With over 12 years of experience, Scott Robson (29) is CFO, APM Terminals India Pvt Ltd. Robson, of British origin, has completed 10 years with APM Terminals globally and has been with the India unit for the last two years. He is a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants..
What are the key challenges that you have faced and how did you overcome them?
My career with APM Terminals has been characterised by change: different countries, cultures, roles, and seniority, with no year like any other.
Adapting to these different environments is by far the most challenging thing I have faced, but also one of the most rewarding and fun to deal with. I am privileged to have had the opportunity to work with some great peers and mentors within APM Terminals, and observing and listening to them set me up with the knowledge and skills to be able to dive head first into new challenges.
Which important projects have you supervised?
I have been involved in the delivery of many multimillion-dollar projects, but the most important to me personally was the functionalisaton of the finance organisation. APM Terminals Inland Services, South Asia has seven sites in India, each having their own finance team, which was far from optimal with no standardisation, superfluous reporting, and minimal collaboration - these were the key areas identified for improvement. We have now centralised the accounting team in Pune, a place where the available finance talent is phenomenal. Tax, Treasury and Legal functions are at our head office in Mumbai, and business partners responsible for multiple geographic facilities are in the North, South, and West. This functionalisaton reduced our headcount, which was incredibly tough to have to do, but has resulted in a fitter, leaner organisation which is primed to support our growth aspirations.
What are the secrets of completing projects on time?
Benjamin Franklin put it best: ´By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail´.
What is the best part of your role?
Having such a diverse set of responsibilities is fantastic; I am responsible for Finance, Legal, IT, Procurement and Project Implementation and interact daily with commercial, operations, HSSE and HR. This wide scope is something that keeps me intellectually challenged and it means I get to see a lot more of the business than is traditionally covered by the CFO function. This increased scope provides me with a huge opportunity as it enables me to add more value to the organisation than might be traditionally expected.
What challenges do you face in your role?
Having disparate sites and teams creates several challenges, as getting to them can be tricky particularly during the monsoon! I take multiple flights a week and spend many hours in the car. Balancing my time between work, travel and home can be a challenge, but I have learnt to prepare for it and now use my travel time to complete tasks that can be done on the move.
What has been the key turning point in your life?
Accepting the job offer from APM Terminals to move from my home country to the Netherlands was a key turning point. That decision set me on the path that has seen me visiting over 30 countries and living in the Netherlands, Spain, Vietnam, Singapore and now India. I wouldn´t be where I am today if I had not taken that initial ´leap of faith´; a decision which changed my perception of, and ability to deal with, change.
What is the single-most important training that you impart to your team?
That they know best! Motivating the people in my team to trust that they have the experience and expertise to deliver is something I try to instill.
What is the best way for you to unwind?
I don´t like sitting still or lying on a beach; I need to be active! My wife and I take trips around India and Asia, and trek the hill forts around Mumbai.
- Rouhan Sharma