#128: Building Confidence, Trust & Credibility

with Shruti Kapoor

Our Guest Mentor:

Shruti Kapoor is a global finance professional with extensive commercial finance, business partnering and consulting experiences.  She currently works with Sodexo, leading the global transformation project for the order to invoice and cash processes.

Shruti is a Singaporean, currently lives in Paris, France.

Key Quotes From the Episode:

 “Assume nothing and learn to simplify things… throw humour and practical examples to help them understand..” [03:16]

“..meeting is a time to get alignment and solution… to be seen as the person that helps to find the business solutions.” [07:10]

“develop confidence by learning what not to do.. “[4:21]

“Keeping a healthy balance of being brave, and also recognizing 70% is good enough as we need to move.. find the balance is difficult.. do trust your gut… take a breather, walk out of the room if you need to..[10.33]

“Learn how to modulate your voice, learning how to say things with impact.. find the right word at the right time…” [09:15]

“building trust, reach out to the person, pay attention language used, and first impression count..”[12:28]

“Always start with a level of humility and respect..” [14:00]

“Junior person.. offer to take minute. people will instinctively trust you… ask clarifying questions.” [14:35]

“On diversity .. finding commonality.. connect on business principles..be comfortable to be different and do not take it personally..” [18:41]

“People attempting perfection will never be successful.. “[21:37]

“Both accountant and finance needs to step into each other arena and work together, that is business partnering..”[23:23]

“line up business values and personal values to be happy at work ..when is against your values, be brave to go..”[26:15]

(Other resources and how to connect with Shruti below).

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Key Points From the Episode:

  • Techniques in dealing with stakeholders, do not assume and keep things simple, use humour practical examples that relate to them.
  • Develop confidence by learning what not to do, exposures from the Big 4 accounting firms, and transferable skills from being an inflight DJ.
  • Trust is built through being authentic and reaching out to your stakeholders and first impression count.
  • Ways to show your presence if you are the junior person in the room, take minutes and ask clarifying questions.
  • Collaboration is required between accountancy and the finance professional to achieve effective business partnering.

Time Stamped Show Notes

[02:00] – Shruti shared best moment of her career as time working with stakeholders at challenging geographies with diverse culture and language profile.  Positive feedback of her finance and accounting deliverables at those places made her the happiest.

[02:55] – Shruti shared tips on how to connect with stakeholders from a diverse background, from not making assumption to the art of simplicity, tailoring and asking the right questions to your stakeholders.  Use humour and practical information/ examples, and bring it down to a level that is real for the stakeholders, that is when she gets the attention and reciprocity from her stakeholders.

[04:05] – Shruti develops her confidence by learning what not to do, with her 8 to 9 years of experiences at the Big 4 Accounting Firms, her learning accelerated.  She knows the 80% behavioural attributes that she does not want, and the 20% that she wants to emulate. An example cited was when there was a type A personality in the room, her confidence somehow got shaken.

[07:55] – Shruti was the Singapore airline Hindi channel DJ hostess while she was at University. Though she was petrified initially, training of her voice as a DJ over the years proved to extremely valuable.  Now she is always confidence on a conference call, she is proficient in projecting her voice& she certainly delivers her message eloquently with an impact.

[12:10] – Shruti discussed how to develop trust with stakeholders in the midst of driving an organizational change.  She reached out to people directly via phone and email.  She emphasized on choosing words and tones carefully, and that first interactions largely determines how trust is built.

[13:01] Position power, Shruti encourages everyone to use that wisely. Know your audience, respecting seniority in the room. No matter how senior a person is, always start with a good level of humility and respect, that always help in building the relationship and trust.

[14:33] For the junior finance professional in the room, how do you show your presence? Shruti offered two simple but powerful advice:

  1. Offer to take minutes, people in the room will instinctively trust you as that is the word that they are reading at the end of the meeting.
  2. If you don’t say anything in the meeting, people assume you are not listening. For you to demonstrate that you are present in the meeting, use clarifying question and rephrase the statement made by others.

[18:01] Shruti shared her experiences as a minority, i.e. Asian woman working in Europe/ Paris.  She finds Europe as a continent that is fairly diverse, and people are receptive to different perspectives and view.  Having grown up in Singapore as a minority race- Indian, she is used to be the odd one out.  First is to find the commonality, and then connect on universal business principles and concept.  There is also possibility to venture into something more personal, one of it being topic of food, which is universal.  Differences she bring to a team, if is in a physical meeting, she is a visual representation of diversity.  She has learnt to be comfortable and not take it personally.

[20:30] Learning to accept 70% is good enough, and perfecting tasks or roles is not going to make anyone happier or leading to a better outcome.

[21:33] Shruti prefers to read fiction. A book she recommended – A River Sutra.  On the point of perfection, the book again reminded us that people seeking perfection in life and is never going to be successful.

[22:35] Shruti viewed the accountancy umbrella versus that of finance as two separate fields.  For those in an accountancy role, one has to build an accurate and sustainable data source/ database. For those in finance it is important to respect that data source, and link those into flexible reporting and facilitate business decision making.  There is still quite some frustration between accountant and finance professional, both parties need to step into each other’s arena, and really work together, as that is what business partnering is about.

[23:50]  For everyone in the finance job family,  controller, FP&A, commercial finance, CFO, be clear of what’s non-negotiable for the profession, those are the values, ethics of the accountancy that one cannot compromise on.  Those non-negotiables are then agreed upon by all parties, and leaving sufficient flexibility in terms of reporting and analysis.

[25:03] – Parting thought from Shruti: Learn to accept and not fight the outcome of business decision.  Find a company that you associate with in terms of values and cultures, do not fight. If you really cannot accept how things are done, have the courage to walk away.  One really has to line up business values and personal values to feel motivated and happy at work.


Connect with today’s guest:

LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shruti-kapoor/

Edited by Wei Chien Yoong

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