Bio: Bina Gupta, Director – Finance, Actis Technologies, heads the Finance & Accounting function at Actis since its inception in 1971 and has a wealth of experience over the last 52 years. She’s been recently awarded with a “Lifetime Achievement Award” by Creston for her work in bringing new standards of professionalism and fiscal management to India’s homegrown AV industry.
We spoke to her recently for some fascinating insights:
- We’d like you to take us for a brief walk down memory lane. Could you tell us about your early years as a student/childhood and your first brush with professional life?
- I studied in a school where the medium of instruction was in Hindi, but mastered the English language on my own once college began.Wanted to do masters in Sanskrit as a child. I was fond of writing in the early days and wanted to actually become a writer, but destiny drew me towards numbers all thanks to my loving father. My mother made sure I learnt knitting, crochet, embroidery etc, which I enjoyed, and I also learnt to play the Sitar.
- Started my career by interning/ doing articleship at Bhatt & Parikh, Mumbai where I was the only lady intern in the firm. My first independent assignment was with (An engineering firm, based out of Mumbai), who were amused and surprised at the sight of a lady auditor, which is something that still makes me smile.
- Soon enough my father, who was a pioneer in his field (India’s first corrugated box manufacturer), asked me to join his business as a full time accountant.
- Here began a fun-filled journey with numbers and figures. Little did I know at that time that this would lay a foundation for my career and future success. I’m very grateful to the late Mr. R.C Patel, the CA at my father’s firm, who taught me the ropes of this profession.
- It is often said that success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day-in, and day-out. What is one consistent, constant commitment at work you have stayed with?
- I have given my work top priority in my life. I have worked consistently since the age of 17 years (Since 1963) and never looked back. I have worked long hours, weekends, holidays or whatever time my work demanded of me.
- My sense of commitment to work has been very high, and all this was not possible without the support of my mother who looked after my children and without the support of my husband who partnered in sharing the household responsibilities.
- Was there never a moment that you wanted to retire and retreat to a life of less rigour? What has kept you going?
- I am deeply passionate about my work, and have been one of those lucky few for whom the career and vocation are the same. My stars have stayed aligned to allow me to work rigorously, with the right people and help in my life at the right time. Which is why I have never considered giving up my work. A lot of this is because I continue to have the wonderful support of my husband, family and team.
- No, I don’t wish for less rigour or retirement as of now. Infact, I almost cannot imagine it.
- What does this award mean to you? Was it difficult to constantly stay relevant and stay adaptive to changes every few years at work?
- This award is gratifying and humbling at the same time. It is an award for me and my team. I am nothing without their support. My son Abhimanyu has been a visionary and quick to adapt new technologies in the workspace – which has helped us evolve and adapt to new technologies in accounting to improve our understanding and management of the business.As far as the statutory laws and changes are concerned our consultants helped and educated us from time to time.
- You have handled a team where you mentored several new joinees at a time Actis was in a nascent stage. Would you call yourself a tough taskmaster or more of a gentle guide?
- My mantra at work has always been “the show must go on”…I ensure that every team member learns that any absence need not take a toll on the work. Often there are more functions than their required job, so as the team size increases there will always be fresh new talent, which has to be inculcated in the Actis culture.
- This takes patience, empathy and team effort to train the new joinee. I used to be a tough task master, but now I have a gentler style of guidance.
- How much can you attribute to the family members in providing you the support you needed to fulfil both domestic and professional duties? What would you say remained your key driver in handling both areas with such flair?
- Without the unwavering support of my parents, husband, family and team it would have been difficult to manage both professional duties and a growing family. Also, as I mentioned before, I will be perpetually thankful to the late Mr. R.C Patel, who was the CA at my father’s firm, and helped me imbibe many professional nuances.
- Besides, passion for numbers has always been my key motivator.
- What is one piece of advice from you for others of your gender aspiring for professional success?
- Despite all the challenges that women face, there is always a way to find a work-life balance. It will always be each to his own, but one must not give up till you find that equilibrium.
- Don’t make children the only thing in your life, because work will be there with you, even when they are not and will keep you mentally agile. This is not an “either/or equation”, in my opinion.
- What are your areas of interest outside work? It’s tough to imagine what you do when you are not crunching numbers. So what does Bina Gupta do when making the transition from Actis workforce to the Gupta household?
- I try to keep myself fit by doing yoga, walking and massages. I enjoy visiting my children in the US of A. I like to play solitaire, make puzzles and eat out.
A final word
In her successful professional journey, she has been instrumental in driving the evolution of Actis from a small company involved in the manufacture and sales of products for the film industry into India’s leading provider of Audio/Visual integration, Environment Control and Meeting Solutions.