INSEAD Participant Interview

Testing and Refreshing Your Knowledge of Corporate Finance

Sudarshan M.K.

Past participant of the Advanced International Corporate Finance programme
CFO
Al Rajhi International for Investment
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

"It’s been over 30 years since I left university and I am 20 years into my career. I felt it was time to test and refresh my knowledge of corporate finance, be exposed to the latest thinking and practice."

Can you please introduce yourself?

I am a senior finance professional with 30+ years of broad, well-rounded, hands-on and international experience in all aspects of corporate and trade finance, project-financing, accounting, auditing and general financial management. I have worked more than 15 years in multi-ethnic, multi-cultural environments.

My business-domain knowledge includes industrial manufacturing, export-trading, HVAC contracting, office-equipment, port container-terminals, insurance and agri-business and I have wide exposure to international legal systems and practices. I am also experienced in early-stage or project-phase startups.

You have a lot of financial experience. Did the programme challenge you?

I wasn’t really challenged at a conceptual or understanding level. The programme felt more like a theoretical refresher for me.

Why did you decide to come on the Advanced International Corporate Finance programme?

There were several reasons:

  1. It’s been over 30 years since I left university and I am 20 years into my career. I felt it was time to test and refresh my knowledge of corporate finance, be exposed to the latest thinking and practice and perhaps gain new knowledge
  2.  I wanted to assess the gap between the state-of-the-art thinking that exists in finance today and my own conceptual and technical skills/understanding. By doing so, I hoped to take stock if I was really up-to-date or hopelessly outdated
  3. I wanted to rub shoulders, and share experiences, with fellow-professionals and peers from different international backgrounds
  4. I wanted to share my own experiences, if relevant, with academicians and practicing professionals

What challenges do you face at work that you felt the programme would address?

My company is heavily invested in high-risk countries of the world, in sectors that are not wholly industrial, with large-scale operations and with complex risks involved. I expected the programme to help me gain a better understanding of these risks and provide me with a set of tools and techniques to handle them.  

Do you think that the programme has given you more confidence?

Yes, especially since I discovered that my knowledge-gap is not all too wide and that it is only on the technical/analytical tools side of things that I need to brush up. What the programme did was give me confidence in my abilities.

What kind of expectations did you have?

My expectations of the programme were that it:

  1.  Would help me discover the current global challenges facing conventional theories of corporate finance in a post-2008 financial crisis world
  2. Would help me to understand how conventional wisdom in corporate finance in various industries has had to adapt in a world beset by debt-crisis, banking-crisis, deflation and poorly functioning economies
  3.  Would offer me insights into current real-life case-studies of how successful corporate finance managers are grappling with present-day business crises
  4. Would offer me, and other participants, an international platform to share our own experiences, and lessons to be learnt, through our respective successes and failures

Do you feel you came away with new ideas and knowledge?

Generally yes, in terms of knowledge, but definitely yes in terms of greater awareness that I gained in specific areas such as shares buy-back, International Risk management, etc…

What were some of your key takeaways?

My main takeaways were: shares buy-back, refinements in the capital asset pricing model, project-finance analysis and dealing with challenges of risk in a global financial context.

What did you think of the teaching?

All the professors were excellent. Given the tight format and scope of the programme, they did their best possible.

What would you say to someone who is thinking of doing the programme?

By all means go for it! AICF might not have been able to teach an old dog like me perform new tricks, but it certainly can make the dog bark louder and more confidently!

Interested in INSEAD's Advanced International Corporate Finance programme? Have a look at our Advanced International Corporate Finance web page or contact Mark Hoggarth, the programme advisor, on +33 (0)1 60 72 40 38 or at mark.hoggarth@insead.edu.

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