Sangeeta Gulati joined education services provider Educomp Solutions in 2000 as a stopgap. "I was bored at Jindal SAW, where I was working," she recalls. "Educomp then was a small company, with a top line of Rs 3.67 crore. I just wanted a break to figure out my next challenge." But she soon found herself in the thick of things. She learnt that the financial controller she had come in to replace had found it difficult to get banks to open a line of credit for it, as it had no assets.
45, Chief Financial Officer
My best practice: Strike a balance between social and financial objectives
What gets my goat: Indiscipline, delays and unprofessional behaviour
How I unwind: Painting, watching movies
Global CFO/CEO I admire: Mohandas Pai (as CFO of Infosys), because it is a challenge to create a sound financial structure at the startup stage, on which the company builds subsequent growth. Steve Jobs for his innovation.
She went to the State Bank of Patiala, with whom she had dealt earlier. There was much hemming and hawing. "I said, 'I'm your guarantee. You have worked with me'," she says. She secured a facility for Rs 1.25 crore without collateral. This enabled Educomp to get its first government order, for the Mahiti Sindhu Project in Karnataka, which provides computer education in schools.
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Eleven years on, she is still at Educomp, and directs an entire floor of legal, financial and tax professionals. "Initially, very few understood our business model, as there were no precedents or comparable companies, and the education industry didn't exist as such. Educomp was the first in the fray, and we built the education business model from scratch,'' she says.
Last year, she set another benchmark when she convinced a bank to back what is being called the 'securitisation-led sale model' of funding, by which receivables are securitised on a third-party balance sheet. This model has had its share of critics, but Gulati brushes them aside. "You can scrutinise our books - we are very transparent,'' she says.