Edtech firm Byju’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Ajay Goel is returning to his previous company Vedanta Ltd. The seasoned global finance professional was hired in April to strengthen the company’s financial operations, long-term business strategies, and path to profitability.
Byju’s also announced new leadership changes in its finance function by appointing industry veteran Pradip Kanakia as the senior advisor. Nitin Golani, currently the finance president, assumed additional responsibility as India chief finance officer (CFO).
“I thank the founders and colleagues at Byju’s for helping me assemble the FY22 audit in three months. I appreciate the support received during a short but impactful stint at Byju’s,” said Goel. He will transition after completing the formalities of the FY22 audit.
As CFO, Goel was responsible for overseeing financial strategy and management for Byju’s. He worked closely with the founders and the senior leadership on strategy development, capital planning and financial analysis. With over two decades of experience, Goel has a track record of delivering strong financial and operational results to companies across sectors, including Vedanta, Diageo, GE, Coca-Cola, and Nestle.
Founders Byju Raveendran and Divya Gokulnath are confident about the new team. “Their experience, understanding and insights on business and finance will help us in our ongoing turnaround efforts,” said Raveendran and Gokulnath. “We sincerely appreciate Ajay’s efforts and accomplishments in a short period. We wish him all the best in his future endeavours.”
Byju’s senior advisor, Pradip Kanakia, brings vast experience from a prominent career of over 35 years and has held leadership positions at Price Waterhouse and KPMG. He has led audits for top Indian and multinational companies with expertise in finance strategy, transformation, performance management, accounting, auditing, reporting, controls, compliance, and governance.
“I look forward to working with the Founders, Advisory Council and Nitin in navigating the transformation process at the company,” said Kanakia.
The new India CFO and President of finance, Nitin Golani, was previously the Chief Strategy Officer at Aakash Education. He played a crucial role in Byju’s $1 billion acquisition of Aakash in 2021 and moved into an operating role at Aakash post-acquisition. Golani, a chartered accountant, began his career at Grant Thornton Bharat and has held roles at MetLife and Accenture Strategy. He will work closely with the board, founders and senior leadership on strategy development, capital planning, and financial analysis.
Nitin Golani said he would take up the new role alongside a dedicated team. “I am committed to ensuring that Byju’s growth is robust and sustainable. My endeavour now is to maximise shareholder value by optimising financial performance,” said Golani.
The development about Ajay Goel moving back to Vedanta comes at a time when Byju’s recently announced plans to convene a board meeting in the second week of October 2023 to present its audited financials for FY22.
The meeting was expected to include members of its Advisory Council and select invitees. The financial statements were expected to be shared with key investors and the board to formally adopt the audited accounts.
The company has garnered $5.8 billion in total funding from investors such as Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), Sumeru Ventures, Vitruvian Partners, BlackRock, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Sequoia, Silver Lake, Bond Capital, Tencent, General Atlantic and Tiger Global. A preliminary meeting between Byju’s management and its auditor, BDO has already taken place, and a notice about this has been issued to shareholders.
Byju’s has not yet submitted its FY22 results to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA), lagging behind other edtech unicorns like Unacademy, upGrad, and Vedantu. This delay has caused concern among investors and lenders who have extended a $1.2 billion term loan B to the company.
The firm reported a loss of Rs 4,588 crore in FY21, a considerable increase from the previous year. This follows the resignation of its previous auditor, Deloitte Haskins & Sells, and key investor representatives due to delays in filing financial results.
On July 22, Byju’s auditor, Deloitte Haskins & Sells resigned from its role as the company was delaying filing financial results. Following the auditor’s resignation, the firm’s top three investors — Prosus, Peak XV Partners, and Chang Zuckerberg Initiative — representatives also resigned. After these resignations, Byju’s chief executive officer Byju Raveendran, addressed shareholders and employees on the issue.
Recently, Byju’s appointed BDO as its statutory auditor for the next five years and formed an Advisory Council, including Rajnish Kumar, former State Bank of India chief and current chairman of BharatPe, and Mohandas Pai, former CFO of Infosys.
Amidst financial challenges, Byju’s is undergoing a restructuring exercise led by its recently elevated India business CEO, Arjun Mohan.
The company plans to lay off approximately 4,000 employees, or over 11 per cent of its workforce. Earlier this year, the Bengaluru-based firm laid off about 1,000 employees as part of an “optimisation” strategy, followed by subsequent rounds of layoffs affecting hundreds more.
Oil to metals conglomerate Vedanta Ltd on Tuesday informed BSE Limited that considered, and on the recommendation of the audit and risk management committee and the nomination and remuneration committee, the firm approved the appointment of Ajay Goel as the chief financial officer (CFO) and key managerial personnel (KMP) of the company with effect from October 30, 2023.
“As part of Vedanta’s structured re-hiring program called ‘Gharwapsi’, Mr Ajay Goel joins back the company,” said Vedanta. “Taken note of the resignation of Ms Sonal Shrivastava from the post of chief financial officer (CFO) and key managerial personnel (KMP) of the company with effect from close of business hours on October 24, 2023, due to personal reasons.”