Featured Profiles

The Modern CFO Mindset: CA Hariprasad Nair on Collaboration, Innovation, and Growth

CA Hariprasad Nair is the Chief Financial Officer at Bateel International, a global gourmet brand with presence in over 30 countries. Nair brings over 26 years of extensive experience in accounting, costing, treasury, and financial management across mid-size to large corporations.

An alumnus of the prestigious Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, and a Fellow Chartered Accountant from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, Nair’s career trajectory has been marked by pivotal milestones and a steadfast commitment to excellence.

In this exclusive interview, Nair discusses his professional journey and shares his insights on navigating the complexities of global finance, the principles that guide his decision-making, and the role of technology in the finance industry. With a wealth of knowledge and leadership philosophy rooted in continuous learning and collaboration, Nair’s perspectives offer a compelling glimpse into the mindset of a modern CFO driving organizational growth and financial strategy.


  • Did any specific childhood experiences significantly influence your career path and leadership style?

I don’t remember any single formative event that greatly influenced my career path during my childhood. Instead, my journey was greatly influenced by the leadership styles I encountered during my formative years while undergoing the CA course and during my early corporate life.

During my CA coaching and early career, I found mentors among my seniors at the CA firm where I did my articleship and their clients. Their guidance and leadership styles became my initial compass. However, the client interactions truly ignited my passion for corporate leadership.

As auditors, we often met with company management, addressing their concerns and queries. Here, I witnessed the true essence of corporate leadership – from Chairpersons, Managing directors,  General managers, and Finance managers. How they interacted during meetings, the clarity of their vision, and their ability to navigate complex financial landscapes left an indelible mark on me.

This exposure shifted my career aspirations. I realized that my true calling lay not in consulting but in becoming integral to an organization’s growth story. My ambition crystallized: to climb the corporate ladder and make impactful contributions from the top.

In my early 20s, while pursuing my CA, I set my first milestone: to become a Finance Director in a multinational company. Years of dedication and learning culminated in achieving this goal, but success only fueled my ambition further. The next target was clear—to become a Chief Financial Officer (CFO).

Today, after a 17-year journey with the same organization, I’ve held the CFO position for six years. It’s been a rewarding climb, marked by challenges, learnings, and the satisfaction of steering financial strategies that drive growth.

Yet, the journey doesn’t end here. The question that now energizes me is, “What’s next?” 


  • Can you share your career trajectory and tell us if there was a defining moment or experience that led you to focus on the Finance industry?

It all began when I developed a strong interest in mathematics during my middle school days.  I wasn’t a stellar student overall, but numbers had a peculiar charm. My father, a former Reserve Bank of India official, nurtured this affinity. His tales of economists and chartered accountants conducting meetings and interacting with senior bank managers planted a seed in my 14-year-old mind. These stories gave me my first glimpse into finance and the impact one could make, even at a young age.

My interest deepened during my early graduation years. A pivotal moment came when I was chosen by my college to volunteer at the 72nd Indian Economic Association Annual Conference event, which was held in my hometown at that time. I had the opportunity to interact with Amartya Sen, Indian economist and philosopher , and many other senior economists of India.The knowledge I acquired from listening to ministers, well-known economists, and high officials speak on GDP growth, employment growth, macro-economic policy, productivity growth in the manufacturing sector, and many strategic topics laid foundation in me for my career advancement.

But the defining moment came during the final year of my graduation. I noticed a proliferation of CA firms in my town. My curiosity was piqued, and I started visiting these firms and asking the CAs about their work. Their explanations were revelatory. They spoke about the services they provide to their clients, such as auditing, tax consultancy, book keeping and accounting, financial planning, compliance reporting, business valuation, fraud investigation etc. Here, I discovered Chartered Accountancy wasn’t just about balancing books; it was about understanding the financial heartbeat of organizations and beyond. 

The CA curriculum resonated with me. It combined my love for mathematics and economics with accounting, auditing,  costing, corporate finance, taxation, and company law. It offered more than just numbers; it provided a lens to analyze and express these numbers in ways that guided organizational decisions. This realization was my turning point. I committed the next four to five years to master Chartered Accountancy.


  • You have an impressive breadth of global experience across various industries and roles. Could you describe some pivotal milestones and achievements in your career journey?

I would rather say that I am a Middle East product as I have now spent 18 years in this region.

I made my debut in the world of international finance when an Australian pharmaceutical company hired me as Financial controller in 2001 to set up accounting and financial controls for their marketing and distribution business, promoting and selling pharmaceutical and dermatology products throughout several Southeast Asian countries. I demonstrated my administrative and commercial prowess, and was additionally tasked with overseeing the regulatory affairs and day-to-day operations of their Philippines business during my final two years with this company, where I honed my skills in client and people relations, business development, and supply chain management. 

Drawn by Dubai’s rapid development and prospects for finance professionals, in 2006, I decided to move to the UAE. I was soon employed by Saudi Arabia’s retail giant Al Hokair Group as Finance manager for their UAE affiliate- Retail Group Gulf LLC( RGG), reporting to the Head of Finance in UAE. The primary objective of the company was to expedite the growth of the franchised multinational brands’ retail network for apparels and household goods in the United Arab Emirates.

At RGG, I learned as much in a year as I would have in five years, covering retail accounting, loss prevention, ERP implementations, debt management, trade finance, UAE laws and relationship management. 

In 2007, I started my second job in the UAE when I was hired as the Finance manager by Bateel International, where I am still employed today. At Bateel, I resonated with the CEO’s goal of tripling the company’s revenue and profitability in five years, and positioning Bateel as a premium regional brand aiming for international growth later . The company’s vertically integrated supply chain from organic date farming to luxury retailing, premium marketing platforms , innovative product development and strategic growth plans offered  me a comprehensive learning curve

Starting from the basics—setting up the chart of accounts, choosing the right ERP, establishing the IT, procurement, and HR departments, implementing financial controls and MIS, regulatory affairs management and raising growth funds  —I grew with Bateel. Today, we have 2000 employees working in our company and our network stretches to 30+ countries. My role evolved from Finance Manager to CFO, mirroring the company’s growth. 

Other milestones include

  • developing robust MIS and financial reporting systems.
  • establishing a professional regional and  corporate finance team to strategize  financial policies and controls across markets
  • assisting the CEO in the selection and recruitment  of a highly talented leadership team for support functions 
  • successful in attracting growth capital for business expansion
  • debt raising for short-term and long-term needs
  • schedule and organize board meetings
  • working closely with global law firms, investment bankers, regional and multi national banks and large consulting firms.

Each and every day in Bateel is a fresh insight. My skills were further developed through close collaboration with the shareholders, the board, the CEO,  the leadership team, the business heads  and division managers.


  • What core principles or philosophies guide your financial management and decision-making approach?

As Bateel’s Chief Financial Officer, I approach each day with a perspective that might seem unconventional: Each day is a new beginning for me. What value can I bring to the company, the shareholders, the investors, the board, the lenders, the employees, the suppliers, the customers, is my first thought of the day

In the global financial landscape, even a C-suite executive must continually demonstrate value. This mindset drives me to consistently validate my contributions to our shareholders, board, and employees. 

The role of a modern CFO extends far beyond solitary decision-making. It’s akin to getting the right team members and leading them to success. I maintain an open-door policy, ensuring accessibility to all levels of the organization. I encourage my financial team to engage in workshops and industry analyses to ensure they are constantly learning and upskilling in this dynamic field. Being the finance head, I am the strategic advisor to the CEO and the Board on the company’s financial status and performance. I do not rush into decisions even if I have pressure from business until I analyze the risks and rewards of any investments & spending

Our financial management is similarly collaborative. Bi-weekly, we scrutinize cash flows, projecting 12 months for operational agility and 24 months for strategic foresight. This planning is crucial as we balance supplier relations, lender obligations, timely employee remunerations, and capital expenditure commitments 

Every investment request is computed and assessed in relation to our cash flow forecast and budget. It’s a daily exercise in strategic equilibrium, aligning immediate requirements with long-term objectives.


  • You have been at the forefront of finance across diverse industries. In your view, how will technological disruptions affect the finance industry?

As CFO, I’ve been at the forefront of this transformation with a unique responsibility: overseeing IT.

It’s unconventional for IT to report to finance, but our CEO recognized that my insights as a ‘smart user’ were invaluable.

As soon as my CEO gave me the go-ahead to handle the IT department, I took the calculated first step of hiring the most skilled individual to lead our IT division. His directive was quite clear: turn IT into our company’s engine. This position is now an independent position managing e-commerce and IT.

In an industry that directly faces customers, we needed fresh perspectives for CRM solutions and customer loyalty programs. We want to outpace technical progress in all areas of the business.

Currently, the finance divisions goal is to digitize all of our document and process flows. We want to automate everything from cash management, collection accounting, payment process to salary management and everything which needs manual data input.  This not only reduces delays in transaction recording and processing but also improves efficiency by freeing human potential for higher-value tasks.

We are also investing heavily in automating our production process with AI technology. . This not only reduce overheads but will revolutionize the traditional manual process of doing things. It’s a bold agenda that promises to catapult Bateel into a new era of efficiency and growth with technology. We are trying to run faster than technological advancements.


  • What advice or insights would you highlight for budding leaders starting in their finance journey as critical for their growth and development as leaders?

Becoming a leader requires both experience and knowledge. Finance professionals, especially expatriates, often believe their basic qualifications are enough. However, to stay competitive, you must continue learning and gain additional qualifications. The market favors young talents and those who continuously improve their skills and knowledge. Learning is crucial. The finance industry is constantly evolving, so it is important for budding leaders to embrace a growth mindset and be open to learning new skills and adapting to changes in the industry. Continuous learning through reading, networking, and seeking mentorship can be valuable. 

Stay updated on advancements in your industry and beyond. If you’re unaware of what’s happening around you, you risk falling behind. Focus on building strong communication and interpersonal skills: Effective communication is key to leadership.

Focus on developing leadership and management skills: As aspiring leaders, it’s important to invest in developing leadership and management skills. This includes learning about effective team management, decision-making, strategic planning, and leading through change.


  • How do you believe your family’s support has contributed to your professional achievements and leadership as a CFO? Have there been times when their support gave you the resilience or motivation needed to overcome challenges?

The unwavering support and encouragement from my family have played a pivotal role in my professional achievements as a CFO. My parents’ upbringing of me, the support and encouragement from my wife and children, and their belief in my abilities and their constant encouragement have instilled in me the confidence to pursue challenging opportunities and take on leadership roles with determination.

There have been numerous instances where my family’s support has been an essential source of motivation and resilience, enabling me to overcome significant challenges. Whether it was navigating through complex business matters or dealing with high-pressure situations, knowing that my family stood by me provided the inner strength needed to persevere and lead with resilience.

My family’s understanding and support have been instrumental in maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Their support and understanding during trying times, particularly during COVID-19 when I had to work late hours and for extended periods of time due to business requirements, enabled me to concentrate on my work obligations without sacrificing my personal obligations, which improved my effectiveness as a CFO. My family is my motivation.