Elaborate on the ratings given
I have rated Piyush ‘exceeds expectations’ in Energy and Drive since I have found Piyush taking initiatives and willing to be part of and learn from different projects. Piyush has always applied logic to break complex problems down into manageable parts, hence, I have rated him ‘exceeds expectations’ in Intellectual Curiosity.
Piyush had displayed glimpse of leadership skills while working on different fund-raising projects. Such skills are very rare amongst associates of his level and work experience. Hence, I have rated Piyush ‘exceeds expectations’ in leadership skills.
I have rated Piyush ‘exceeds expectations’ in Ability to work as a team. While Piyush was earlier willing to work in isolation, he subsequently showed a lot of improvement and worked in sync with both internal and external teams to manage different fund raising projects.
Since the fund-raising field requires one to discuss and communicate with a number of stakeholders such as bankers, rating agencies, lawyers, etc. and Piyush has been very effective in doing so, I’ve rated his English language ability as ‘exceeds expectations’.
For how long you have known the candidate and in what capacity
I have known Piyush Khullar for more than 4 years now out of which Piyush reported to me for 2.5 years till April 2021. I am responsible for overall fund raising and treasury operations for JSW Energy and its subsidiaries and associates. Piyush reported to me and worked on various fund raising projects. We have had daily interaction over the course of the 2.5 years till April 2021 on various aspects such as fund raising, preparing financial projections and discussion with bankers, lawyers etc. Piyush was a Junior Manager JSW Energy Ltd.
What are their strengths
Some of the projects which Piyush worked on were making future cash flow projections for a period of 6 months for JSW Energy and its subsidiaries and raising short term funds by way of loans from banks, commercial papers. These were complex projects which required discussion with various teams including plant teams within JSW and outside stakeholders such as bankers, rating agencies and mutual funds. The most significant professional strength of Piyush is his ability to apply logic to break complex problems down into manageable parts or sub-problems and willingness to proactively seek high-impact projects. This attitude of Piyush was not just appreciated by me but also by the top management of JSW Energy Ltd. I would rate Piyush as ‘Outstanding’ and one of the best associates I have worked with across my 20+ years of professional career.
Piyush was the point of communication for JSW Energy Ltd and its subsidiaries and associates for a number of domestic and global bankers, rating agencies and internal stakeholders. One of the high impact projects in which Piyush worked on was raising $ 707 million Green Bond, which was listed on Singapore Stock Exchange, for a hydro energy power producing company at a competitive rate during the Covid-19 period when the fund raising environment was not very conducive and investors were less willing to fund new projects. It was the first time in the JSW Energy’s and its associates history that we were raising an offshore bond. As part of the project, we worked with investment banks such as Deutsche Bank, Citibank, Barclays and others and with domestic and global law firms such as Linklaters and Mill Bank and noted credit rating agencies such as Fitch Ratings, Moody’s. During the project, Piyush was the point of communication for all such outside stakeholders. His ability to meet deadlines, help various stakeholders understand financial forecasts and resolve complex queries on time was also appreciated by the bankers. He single-handedly in discussion with investment bankers completed the Offering Memorandum, the most important document for investors which is published online on the stock exchange. Additionally, Piyush also worked on negotiation other security and fund-raising documents such as Investor Presentations.
During the tenure of Piyush’s experience at JSW Energy, Piyush led another fund raise by way of issuing a Non-Convertible Debenture of ~ $ 40 million, on which he was working single-handedly. From negotiating and finalizing documents to preparing the Offering Memorandum to ensuring the funds are properly utilized for the required purposes, Piyush was the single point of communication for bankers, lawyers and for the management internally regarding the fund raise. This fund raise also helped me recognize glimpse of leadership skills in Piyush, which was rare for an associate at Piyush’s level and experience.
What are their areas of improvement
Fund raising profile is such that the various aspects involved in this profile such as preparation of financial projections, discussion with bankers, building and managing the Company’s relationship with them requires one to communicate and discuss with a number of different teams and persons involved on a frequent basis. However, early on, when Piyush joined the team, Piyush was more willing to work in isolation and in an individual capacity. As part of the one of the first few transactions, I understood from him that he had built the financial projections by discussing with teams locally but without any discussion with teams operating from our plant locations, i.e. teams who are actually working on-ground and are aware of on ground situation. This led to certain assumptions being missed out by Piyush in the financial model which could have made the forecast accuracy more refined and practical.
When I pointed this to Piyush and explained to him the potential financial ramifications and possibility of taking incorrect decisions, he made a commitment to ensure that this aspect is taken care while working on future projects. Piyush’s reaction to my feedback was positive and accepting. I noticed that he started making a conscious effort of discussing different aspects with the respective teams, going to banks for meeting different bankers, which is turn helped us develop and improve our relationships with different banks.
Our subsequent projects such as raising funds by way of an offshore Green Bond and raising funds by way of Non-Convertible Debentures, on which Piyush worked single-handedly, helped me recognise that Piyush has now become comfortable with working with lawyers, credit rating agencies, bankers and most importantly, with other team members. Piyush also helped build our relationships with different bankers. I am confident that as Piyush gets involved in multiple study group discussions, case submissions, project reports etc. at Oxford, he will further improve on this area.
How you think the candidate would benefit from the programme
Having known Piyush for more than 4 years out of which I was his direct supervisor for 2.5 years, I believe Piyush is on the right path and by pursuing International MBA degree from Said Business School, it will help get an all-round perspective of fields other than finance such as sales, marketing, human resource, operations and help him become an all-round professional. As part of the MBA program at Oxford, Piyush will get an opportunity to learn from distinguished professors is various aspects such as International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) in Accounting, Analytics, Business Finance, Strategy which in addition to his Chartered Accountancy degree will add significant value to his knowledge and help me move up the ladder in the finance field at a faster rate.
Since Piyush’s long term goal is to work in the finance field, completing his MBA from Oxford University will help Piyush get an opportunity to work at financial capitals of the world such as London, Tokyo, Frankfurt etc. Such experience in addition to his experience at working in Mumbai will help Piyush immensely. Additionally, as part of my discussions with various professionals, I understand that a lot of the renewable energy innovations are expected in the European Union, which expects to become carbon neutral by 2050. Working as part of innovative projects which can potentially change the world around us will be an opportunity like no other and such companies would prefer to hire their employees from reputed universities such as Oxford, providing Piyush an opportunity to work on areas which can have impact on the world around us. Further, since Piyush has already worked at some renewable energy projects such as Hydro Power, Solar during his work experience at JSW Energy Ltd., he will also be able to add his knowledge to the team.
Additionally, I understand that Oxford’s Global Alumni Network includes 24,000 plus members in 150 plus countries and more than 300,000 alumni. Access to and interaction with such a large network and interaction with candidates from diverse background and geographies who are part of his cohort will help him get additional exposure like no other.
My best wishes for all his efforts!