Ragesh Rajendran: Making The Best Use Of Acquired Skills To Accomplish Organizational Growth Objectives

Ragesh Rajendran: Making The Best Use Of Acquired Skills To Accomplish Organizational Growth Objectives

Ragesh Rajendran , CFO & Consultant

Ragesh Rajendran

CFO & Consultant

The global architectural services market was valued at $344.9 billion in 2021 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.4 percent from 2022 to 2030. The demand for services can be attributed to the increasing construction activities across the globe. Rapid urbanization in developing countries is increasing residential and commercial construction activities. Moreover, governments are focused on introducing affordable home projects across various countries. This rise in construction activities is expected to support the demand for architectural services such as construction and project management services and urban planning and boost the market growth. Ragesh Rajendran, with over 32 years of finance and accounting experience, is leading the Finance operations at Ukay Builders Sdn. Bhd., a turnkey contractor, undertakes a wide range of projects in two main categories: building construction and infrastructure. Established in 2005, the company offers a total solution in construction, from design and build project and management to advisory and consultancy.

Ragesh Rajendran, CFO/Consultant, Ukay Builders Sdn Bhd, is a Senior management professional who has managed finance, accounts, and audits across diverse organizations encompassing strategic financial planning, cost and profitability management, treasury operations, and credit and collections, amongst others.Ragesh Rajendran engages in a one-on-one interaction with the CEO Insights Magazine.

Tell us about your professional background and experiences. Which factors motivated you to take up the leadership role of Ukay Builders Sdn Bhd?

I have over 32 years of accounting and finance experience covering areas like financial reporting, budgeting, tax compliance and planning, managing audits, credit control, payroll, financial planning and analysis, risk management, investor relations, setting up a shared service centre, automating finance processes and managing finance teams.I was offered the CFO/Consultant role at Ukay Builders as they wanted to embark on an initial public offering (IPO) exercise. I helped appoint all the consultants, including the principal advisor and prepare the draft Bursa Consultation paper, but the exercise was abandoned after three months as advised by the principal advisor. Ukay Builders may still proceed with the IPO in 2 ­ 3 years when they have accumulated a sizeable order book.

How would you define Ukay Builders Sdn Bhd as an organization and its position in the market? What is the unique proposition that the company offers to its clients?

Ukay Builders specializes in construction services for both residential properties and commercial properties, as well as infrastructure projects. Currently, Ukay Builders is involved in two projects in Hutan Melintang, Perak, Malaysia, where they are building an army camp and army living quarters. They have also acquired the former International School of Kuala Lumpur's campus in Ampang and plan to convert it into a neighbourhood mall under their 70 percent owned subsidiary Asset 1 Land Sdn Bhd. They have completed the construction of 1500 units of apartments in Putrajaya (completed in 2018) and some infrastructure projects in Pengerang, Johor (completed in April 2022). The company holds the position of one of the many G7 contractors in the market but specializes more in government contracts.Ukay Builders' unique proposition is that they can do value engineering for the buildings that they construct by identifying and proposing alternative design and cost options so that the client will get the best value. With a professional team comprising mainly project managers, quantity surveyors, engineers and accountants, we are a knowledge-based professional team focusing on the technical expertise of construction services.

You have been in the finance industry for almost three decades now. In your opinion, how has the mindset of people about investments evolved through time?

The investment mindset has not changed much over the years, as entrepreneurs will always invest in growth; without investment, there will be no growth. Some entrepreneurs will be more cautious, while the more progressive ones will choose digital transformation agendas. However, suppose a person leading a company is not an entrepreneur or does not have an entrepreneurial mindset (especially in GLCs and other non-owner-managed organizations). In that case, they will either be too cautious about investing or make the wrong investment decision.

What milestones bestowed you with the utmost satisfaction as an individual and an industry leader in your professional journey?

My milestones include making changes and improving processes, including automation, which led to improved efficiency and reduced cost. The other was setting up the shared service centre, which resulted in streamlined processes made more efficient while reducing the finance staff cost by more than 20% at Star Media Group Berhad. In Ukay Builders, the role is a bit different as it mainly involves consultancy and helping the company obtain project financing including arranging all the relevant documents like the project brief, statutory documents and cash flow projections to be submitted to the banks, and liaising with the bankers. Successfully obtaining bank financing has bestowed the utmost satisfaction on me. I am also currently consulting for an IT company, Metora, a data science practice that specializes in automation at the office of finance in areas of budgeting, forecasting, demand and supply chain planning using enterprise performance management (EPM) platforms embedded with artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Sometimes finance transformation follows a company-wide transformation, but as a finance leader you can always take the lead

Based on your strong professional experience, what advice would you give to the upcoming leaders in the finance industry?

Finance leaders should not be afraid to make changes and pursue finance transformation agendas. Sometimes finance transformation follows a company-wide transformation, but as a Finance leader you can always take the lead.

Ragesh Rajendran,CFO & Consultant,Ukay Builders SDN BHD

Ragesh is a professional with a high mentoring ability with excellent communication and team management skills. Ragesh Rajendran has a proven ability in process improvements and initiating and implementing automation of finance functions. His other skills include financial modelling, efficiently managing account reconciliations, overdue and customer debts, arranging project financing, tax planning and advisory and managing company audits.

Awards & Recognition: CFO & Group CFO at Star Media Group Berhad from July 2010 to February 2020

Hobbies: Reading & Watching Movies

Favourite Cuisine: Mutton Curry

Favorite Book: Freedom at Midnight by Larry Collins & Dominique Lapierre

Favorite Travel Destination: New Zealand

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