As the Global Head of Taxation for $22b company, Tata Consulting Services (TCS), Renu Narvekar has enviable credentials and a career history to match. Renu speaks candidly with Thomson Reuters about the 2022 trajectory, her client-focussed strategy and being a role model for future female leaders.
Unpredictability and uncertainty have ruled over the last two years as many businesses sidelined their broader strategies in favour of more tactical responses, leading to a drop in global GDP (Gross Domestic Product).
Despite the concerns around the global economy and the pandemic, cautious optimism is creeping back and encouragingly, signs point upward as we continue into 2022. Renu predicts that it will be a year of “not just recovery, but acceleration and innovation.”
The expected growth industries are IT (Information Technology), automotive, infrastructure and fintech, and India is expected to be the fastest-growing economy by 2023.
The future is tech
The IT industry will blaze the growth trail with expanded opportunities in emerging tech and digital transformation. “The pandemic ramped up tech adoption to respond to changing customer needs” highlights Renu. “Industries that were not IT-driven have been forced to shift from the physical to digital mode.”
TCS continues to set industry standards for delivering impactful solutions to clients by leveraging growth initiatives like cloud, AI (Artificial Intelligence), blockchain and other diverse fields. The trend is industry-agnostic but very much tech focused. “These are new ways of doing business, (and will generate) newer tax laws which deal with borderless value creation and big data.”
Technology and the tax function
Globalisation, complex tax rules and the need for transparent systems has made the adoption of technology in tax “a must rather than a good to have” says Renu. “If I click a button, I should be able to get all the information I want.”
”The use of technology will transform the tax function by creating more efficiencies and improving risk management.” Automating tasks helps businesses stay competitive and generates a higher-performing tax department who spend less time on compliance and more time delivering strategic value to the broader organisation.
As the tax landscape becomes increasingly complex, so does the demand for more specialised talent as technical tax skills, though critical, will no longer be sufficient. Tax heads will need to supplement their talent pool with specialist tax technologists, who are primarily trained in information technology and can apply those skills to a variety of tax processes and data needs.
“Putting the customer first, delivering distinctive value and enhancing the customer experience” is at the core of TCS,” says Renu. “Our customer centricity is as much a strategy as it’s a culture.” The business is structured to enable cross-capability collaboration which provides a holistic solution for customers to achieve their business objectives.
TCS is also dedicated to supporting their customers’ social missions impacting the wider world. GE Healthcare partnered with TCS during lockdown to automate the configuration of ventilators, enabling the increased production required to meet the pandemic-fueled demand, which helped ease suffering and saved more lives.
“Our customer centricity is as much a strategy as it’s a culture.”
– Renu Narvekar
It’s a (wo)man’s world
Today, women are still lagging in leadership roles, Renu believes “things are changing for the better. The current generation of women is much more confident,” and they have mentorship programs and powerful examples of women role models in the workplace to look up to.
With $4-6 billion worth of tax revenue under her management at any given time, Renu is a noteworthy role model. Her advice to any aspiring woman professional wanting to forge a career in the finance operations space is to “believe in yourself and your abilities (and) have a positive and proactive mindset.” Determination and enthusiasm help too.