Meet CS Rajiv Bajaj who never restricted himself to typical CS duties taking up finance, HR and IT roles

  • Hi! I am Rajiv Bajaj, a qualified Company Secretary (CS) in possession of a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) from Punjab University, India.
  • Way back in the 80's my friend’s brother inspired me to pursue the CS course through his astounding professionalism and success.
  • Through my dedication and enthusiasm to learn, I took up several roles and ended up bagging the role of CFO at Panasonic AVC Networks India Co. Ltd.
  • In 2020 in my mid-50s and after 22 years in the corporate world, I thought it was time for me to start on my own and founded Bajaj & Bajaj Corporate Chambers. 

Kick-starting my career as a CS

When I was young (in the mid-80s), I had a close friend whose brother was a successful CS. His conduct and professionalism made me develop an interest in his profession. 

Around 1985, when it was my turn to decide on a career path I took it upon myself to start my worthwhile CS journey with The Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI).

Always curious and hungry to learn, when my CS course was going side by side, I applied for a role as a Finance Executive in a Chandigarh-based group of listed companies.

The recruiter believed in me and offered me the job to showcase my skills. Here, I got the opportunity to manage banking affairs as well as the group’s expansion plans.

Fast forward, I qualified as a CS in 1992.

I had several job offers on hand, as CS professionals were in great demand during the boom of the stock market (this was around Harshad Mehta’s time, before the stock market scam). This broadened our scope of work due to the complexities that arose.

I eventually joined a group of companies as an Assistant Company Secretary - dealing with the whole gamut of affairs, including administration.

I remember I had a 62-year-old senior administrator who reported to my 27-year-old self. Despite the age gap, we always had a very harmonious work culture. In fact, we learnt a lot from each other.

It was a congenial corporate environment and I enjoyed a good work-life balance. This allowed me to perform my duties effectively while pursuing my law degree on the side.

Bold moves with the right attitude paved the path to success in my career

From the beginning of my career, I was always managing things on my own and without looking at others to help me out. 

My motto: “Let’s keep learning” boosted my confidence and enabled me to excel in my work. 

All of this helped me grow and in a short span of time, I was offered a bigger role in Delhi. It was a great opportunity, so I did not hesitate to rise to the occasion.

Through resource management, I raised funding for the company and all was going well until the Harshad Mehta saga crippled the merchant banking sector.

As a result, the company closed its merchant banking operations and I took a plunge by establishing a CS Practice between 1996 and ’97.

Within 7-8 months of practice, I received an offer from Panasonic, a multinational electronics company headquartered in Osaka, Japan.

My practice was doing well, but the comfort of a job as well as being associated with a multinational company attracted me. Therefore, I gracefully moved on and joined Panasonic on the 1st of April in 1998.

Initially, I worked as a Company Secretary and within three months, my Japanese boss asked me if I could handle the finance part of it.

And I said why not? That is how I started my career in finance.

I never restricted myself only to CS roles as I wanted to be a professional in my own right.

Rising to the CFO position 

I was working for a joint venture between an Indian chairperson and Japanese managing directors, so it was an exciting challenge, which I handled effectively for all parties.

I inspired change, reduced their interest rate, and entered into foreign exchange booking. All these changes were beneficial to the company.

The unforeseen happened when the customs and excise tax authorities surveyed the company. With my knowledge of the law, I handled the matter well such that the Japanese boss expanded my role to include taxation-related matters. 

Additionally, I took care of IT and HR until I was designated as the CFO as per the requirements of the Corporate Governance Norms.

Even though I was not a CA, I handled the CFO position quite well. In my team, I had CAs with whom I worked effectively to grow the company.

I always tell people that we need relevant skills to perform our duties on the ground and we should always be focused and open to challenges.

Never think that there are things you cannot do. If you are confident in yourself, you can handle anything and everything.

Entrepreneurial leap in my 50s

In 2019 Panasonic, was undergoing a restructuring process.

By now I had spent 22 years in the company and I asked myself the big question: “What next?”

Taking an entrepreneurial leap was always on my mind.

I thought that was the right time for me to move out and do something on my own when I still had the energy to invest in my business and future.

After deep deliberations, I started my venture called Bajaj & Bajaj Corporate Chambers in January of 2020.

Unfortunately, the pandemic took over the world, but we embraced this challenge by conducting several online seminars through my community called “Start-up Change Leaders”, where we support new entrepreneurs.

With over three decades of varied experience, we provide our services to micro, small and medium enterprises, the start-up ecosystem as well as a few listed companies.

We also mentor young entrepreneurs.

Dealing with challenges

Challenges are definitely bound to come, so no journey can be without challenges.

For me, I had some team members who often tried to pull me down. The lesson I learnt from these individuals is to always maintain my professionalism. If I start behaving the same way, then there will be no difference between us.

My biggest asset is being able to keep calm in the worst of situations. That is what makes a difference.

I also learnt that one should have good functional knowledge but to succeed in your career you must have 80% leadership skills. 

I always tell young minds, you should work as if you are an entrepreneur running your own company, even if you are in a job.

Once you have that ownership feeling you are definitely going to be successful.

Even in the midst of professional challenges, we should continue to do our best and act ethically with integrity as well as professionalism.

Out of 100% of people giving feedback, 1% may be negative. Do not be derailed. Instead, focus on the positive 99% and maintain your confidence.

To all company secretaries...

CS is a vast field.

A CS degree doesn’t mean that you are a CS and you will only do certification work or ROC filing all your life.

Any degree is a passport that gives you a certificate of a professional. You should try to maximize your potential.

You are a rare commodity, feel like that, work like that and be very proud of the degree that you possess.

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