Get expert advice on every topic you need as a small business owner, from the ideation stage to your eventual exit. Our articles, quick tips, infographics and how-to guides can offer entrepreneurs the most up-to-date information they need to flourish.

Subscribe to our blog

Meet Escalon’s Lead CFO, Ankush Sharma, a Veteran CFO of PE-backed Companies

Posted by Arya Chatterjee

Expert advisor: Ankush Sharma

June 5, 2024

Transforming Emerging Businesses with Strategic Management and Process Improvement with Ankush Sharma

Welcome to our new series, Meet the Expert at Escalon, where we introduce you to industry leaders shaping your business’s future.

In this edition, we spotlight Ankush Sharma, a seasoned accounting professional with over 18 years of experience at Escalon Services across diverse industries. Ankush has built a reputation as a trusted business partner and a champion of process improvement, having managed a portfolio of privately funded companies, leading teams focused on PE-backed and PE-bound businesses, and implementing critical accounting standards like ASC 606 and ASC 842.

From health and fitness to marketing, advertising, manufacturing, e-commerce, and technology, Ankush’s expertise spans a broad spectrum of industries. We sat with him to understand his approach to process improvements, change, management, and implementing cutting-edge financial systems.

Read on to learn more about this star CFO’s journey, the lessons from his mentors, and how he can help your business.

Team Escalon (TE): Can you tell us about your journey in the accounting and financial services industry and what inspired you to pursue this career?

Ankush Sharma (AS): My journey started with a passion for finance and accounting, influenced by an inspiring mentor post-high school. After high school, I pursued Chartered Accountancy while studying finance and accounting as majors for college. After my brief stint working as an auditor, I realized my instincts were inclined towards data analysis and interpretation. My first mentor helped me develop the necessary skills and taught me invaluable lessons:

  1. The importance of getting things right the first time rather than attempting to correct them later.
  2. The necessity of thoroughness in accounting, analyzing and reviewing your completed tasks.
  3. The critical nature of keeping commitments. It can make or break your reputation.

Later, at a pharmaceutical manufacturing company, another mentor honed my management skills, emphasizing:

  1. Data is valuable, and information is precious. Wrong information can cause havoc and hurt your credibility, so verify the reports.
  2. Delegate and train your team so they are a better version of you.
  3. Being an intelligent worker gets better results than being a hard worker.

With this knowledge, I’ve been with Escalon for over 18 years and have helped over 500 small businesses navigate their financial journeys over the last 24 years.

TE: What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced in managing a portfolio of privately funded companies, and how you overcame them?

AS: Each PE-funded organization presents unique challenges. The toughest was overseeing a client’s simultaneous change management and system migration, akin to changing a moving car’s wheels. With my team’s support, we meticulously documented existing and future processes, ensuring no loose ends during the transition. The key to success was rigorous documentation of “as is” and “to be” processes that assured there were no loose ends in either of the changes (people and systems). Robust documentation, systems, and controls have consistently proven crucial in securing better valuations from investors.

Describe your approach to leading and managing teams, particularly in PE-backed and PE-bound businesses.

AS: A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, so I focus on identifying and addressing skill gaps within my team and fostering continuous learning. I believe that as long as team members are showing a keenness to learn, they can be trained over time. I have around 60 people on my team who can be assigned to three tiers.

  1. US-based CFO, Controller, FP&A, and HR business partners with experience working with PE, PE portfolio companies (Portcos), or audit firms.
  2. India-based Controller with a team of Chartered Accountants with over 4+ years of experience in accounting, reporting, and audits.
  3. India-based subject matter experts in accounting, payroll, and compliance, with individuals with 3+ years of experience in their respective fields.

We ensure transparent overcommunication, industry specialization, and strong client relationships, leading to long-term client retention.

TE: What is most rewarding about working with emerging businesses in diverse industries?

AS: The continuous learning opportunities and the pride of supporting businesses from potential to known brands are priceless. I have worked with PE portfolios of all sizes, with revenue ranging between 6 digits and high 9-digit revenue numbers. The current PE Vertical Portfolio clients include clients in SaaS, skincare, e-commerce, sporting goods, hospital management, and financial consulting. The learning opportunities are endless: working with clients with multiple subsidiaries, project tracking 100+ employees, audits, etc. The average revenue range for our current portfolio is between $70-100M.

TE: With your extensive experience in implementing ASC 606 and ASC 842, can you discuss how these standards impact financial reporting and how businesses can ensure compliance?

AS: Businesses must comply with the accounting standards for ASC 606 on revenue recognition and ASC 842 on lease accounting; we have helped the companies implement the accounting standards by conducting research, preparing process documents, planning, and rolling them out. It requires a lot of due diligence to ensure that all the scenarios are discussed, documented, explained to the clients, and validated by the auditors.

TE: In your experience, what are the most common pitfalls businesses encounter during change management and system application changes, and how can they avoid them?

AS: The risk of the unknown is the biggest downside of change management; hundreds of things can go wrong, whether it is change in people or systems. Proper planning, scenario discussions, standard operating procedures, workflows, and documentation can prevent significant issues. Escalon team’s approach and understanding of the “5 Whys” for problem-solving have helped many clients ease the transitions. Understanding that sometimes businesses do not have time and resources to spare for planning and documentation, my team and I are always ready to roll up our sleeves and get the work done.

TE: How do you leverage data analytics and KPI design to drive your client’s business performance and strategic decision-making?

AS: There are different levels of users for data; while the job of the Escalon team is to ensure that the reports are accurate to the best of our knowledge, the analysts and Controller level resources are more inclined to see the granular details behind the numbers including flux analysis that serves as the basis for the CFO reports who are interested to know the health of the business, ratio analysis, trend and areas of risk. The board members, investors, and the PE firm use the data to track ROI and performance compared to the same business within the industry. We define KPIs with stakeholders and provide data relevant to different user levels.

TE: As a Six Sigma certified professional, how do you apply process improvement methodologies to your work at Escalon Services?

AS: Six Sigma brings efficiency and repeatability. We help clients reduce month-end close processes by 5-10 days, provide detailed flux analysis, point out areas of operational efficiencies to automate or change the process, avoid breaches of covenants, prevent penalties from the city, state, and IRS, and ensure timely ERP implementations. This results in cost savings, fraud prevention, expedited reporting, and robust controls.

TE: Given your broad experience across various industries, how do you tailor your financial services and process improvements to meet the unique needs of each sector? Can you provide an example of this customization in practice?

AS: We adopt a custom solution approach and develop processes based on customers’ voices. Each client is unique, and the cookie-cutter approach does not work for them. The solution design starts with a detailed scoping exercise to set clear expectations. Onboarding involves creating project management dashboards, gathering information, documenting “as is” processes, and getting a sign-off. This very transparent approach has worked well for all the clients. Over the period, the Escalon team continues to propose process improvements to set up strong controls, do repetitive tasks in less time, implement quality checks, recommend KPIs and dashboards (weekly and monthly), and provide departmental flux analysis. Frequent client check-ins ensure transparency and long-term relationships. For example, one of our clients saw a spike in revenue from 200 units a month to 3,000 units in less than 60 days. We scaled up our team from 4 to 15 to ensure that the client continues to focus on meeting their customer ask instead of figuring out how to manage/hire resources. Once the order flow normalized, we incorporated process improvements and downsized the team from 15 to a headcount of 10.

Our team’s understanding and experience in implementing various ERPs, accounting applications, and frequently used accounting applications come as an added advantage to clients, as they don’t have to engage too many vendors to make changes to their tech stack. Our team does implementations and migrations for QuickBooks Desktop, QuickBooks Online, NetSuite,, Expensify, Brex, Ramp, and Procurify in-house.

About Ankush

Ankush Sharma is a seasoned financial professional with over 18 years of experience at Escalon Services. He has a passion for innovation and a proven track record of helping businesses grow. Throughout his career, Ankush has honed his skills in process improvement, change management, and implementing cutting-edge financial systems. His passion for innovation and measurable results makes him an invaluable asset to Escalon Services and its clients. To know more about Ankush’s background, visit our website.

Want to learn more about how Escalon’s expert fractional CFOs and Controllers can help your business? Contact us today.


Arya Chatterjee
Arya Chatterjee

Arya Chatterjee is a freelance writer and consultant from Mumbai. With a background in journalism and over five years of creative writing experience working with legacy media like Architectural Digest and Femina India and brands like The Label Life, and Macy's, she crafts unique and compelling stories that engage the readers. She enjoys writing about health, beauty, fashion, and lifestyle and exploring the symbiotic relationship between thriving businesses and happy employees through her writing. She is always looking to explore new avenues to expand her creative energy.

We provide you with essential business services so you can focus on growth.