Approved Employers Spotlight – Olam International

theaccablog —  August 11, 2015 — Leave a comment

Today, we throw the spotlight onto one of our Approved Employers; Olam International.


We in ACCA Singapore have been working closely with Olam International’s President and Global Finance Head –Products; Srinivasan Venkita Padmanabhan on various projects such as the Trident Project, Big Data. This close working relationship grew and in October 2014, Olam International joined officially joined our family of Approved Employers.

Padmanabhan who prefers to be known as Venkat strongly believes that the finance department of an organisation should always play an active role in business decision making. This belief stems from from the humble beginnings of Olam when Venkat joined as the Finance Manager of their India operations back in 1994.

In the early days, the company had no proper office, and where they operated from did not even have filing cabinets. Hence, Venkat and his India CEO then had to start everything from scratch which included designing cabinets for the office. That was business partnering at it’s simplest form.

Being part of the  pioneer team which kick-started the Company’s India operations, helped Venkat shape the role of finance under his leadership.  The accounting and finance people were so closely involved with the business operations from the very start that the finance function has never been relegated to a back-room role. Instead, it has always been a business partner, with a seat at the table for all discussions and the ability to contribute from its own perspective.

While they are not in the hot seat to deliver profits, they do share the responsibility to deliver results. This gives the finance team a good view of which parts of the business are doing well and which are not, and then providing necessary insights on how strategies should be shifted to attain optimum results.

This humble beginning and close involvement of Olam’s finance team with the business operations is one of the reasons why Venkat strongly supports the hiring of ACCA graduates.

He feels that our graduates have a keen awareness of what is happening in the world, and are well supported by the research and development that ACCA carries out. He said,  ‘I have seen over the years that ACCA turns out good professionals with a solid knowledge of accounting and soft skills’.

Soft skills and core values are also of great importance to Olam’s corporate culture, which is also one that Venkat believes can help anyone to succeed in their role. 

Venkat has some valuable tips to share with all finance professionals and those who are aspiring to join this profession :

  • ‘Seek out innovation and new experience, but also have a little patience. You will not reach the top in one day.’
  • ‘You are the most valuable asset that you have. Focus on learning; keep yourself up to date, read, participate, network, speak in forums, move around outside the office.’
  • ‘Maintain your physical, mental and emotional health.’
  • ‘Take the risk. Experience is the most important thing you can ever have as a professional, and the best time to gain it is when you are young and energetic.’
  • ‘Every night before you sleep, reflect on what you have learned and think about how to use it to improve yourself.’

We thank Venkat and Olam for their continued support. It is one very valuable partnership and we applaud the way the finance team in Olam is run. We certainly look forward to working more closely with Olam, and help ACCA members in their finance team develop professionally!

About Olam International 

Being a major supplier and distributor of agricultural commodities, Olam International operates in 65 countries, employing more than 23,000 people worldwide. Originally established in 1989 as Olam Nigeria by the Kewalram Chanrai Group – exporting raw cashew nuts from Nigeria to India – the company quickly developed into an independent agricultural export business, extending across the value chain from upstream to processing. Olam International was incorporated in Singapore in 1995 and listed on the Singapore Exchange in 2005. In 2006, the company developed a growth strategy that focused on both organic and inorganic approaches, rolling out a mergers and acquisitions framework in 2007.

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