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Chanda Kochhar: Shaping the Retail Banking Sector in India

Mar 8, 2017 14:35 IST

When ICICI Bank was declared the Domestic Systemically Important Banks (D-SIBs) along with the SBI, it was wondered that a bank with not much presence even a decade bank could make it to that list along with the banking giant SBI. From then onwards, it was understood that the bank is in the able hands of its worthy MD-CEO Mrs Chanda Kochhar. She has made the bank a household name with the best in the class customer service and necessary technological interventions at all levels. It is for her able leadership that the bank is doing so well now in the Indian market.

Mrs Kochhar: The Journey to the top

Chanda Kochhar was born in 1961 in Rajasthan in a middle class family. Her father was the principal of an engineering college but she lost him only at the age of 13. After that, her family shifted to Mumbai and she completed her graduation and PG there. She also did a course in Accountancy and Cost Management. Though her childhood dream was to become an IAS officer, she joined ICICI in 1984 as a management trainee. After that, there was no looking back as after the establishment of ICICI Bank in 1994, she has been entrusted with a number of roles in the bank.

The Achievements and what made her achieve these

Being a go-to officer for any case, her efforts were acknowledged and she became the first female MD-CEO of the ICICI Bank.

  • ICICI merged into ICICI Bank: ICICI Bank was started in 1994 but then the retail banking sector was already overcrowded and banks used to extend loans at high rates of interest to the industry. ICICI Bank made it possible to take loans at lower interest rates as well as increasing the volume of business under Kochhar’s leadership.
  • Investment and Corporate Banking: ICICI started as a development finance organization but soon after, it emerged as an investment bank as well as corporate financing hub as well under the able leadership of Mrs Kochhar.
  • Taking the challenge head-on: Mrs Kochhar always believes in taking the challenges head on and that is why, she specified four Cs for development of retail banking in India and they are cost, credit, CASA ratio and Capital.
  • Ability to take quick decisions: It is something that a leader is expected to do and Mrs Kochhar does not disappoint on that. She takes crucial decisions very quickly as was proved when she was moved to retail segment from the investment banking which she converted into a revenue generating business and she made the decision within one day despite having very little knowledge regarding retail banking in India.
  • Hungry to learn new things: This is one thing every successful person agrees as a tool to achieve success. Mrs Kochhar is no different as she says that new challenges will always be there and you have to be ready to meet them in order to climb up the ladder.
  • Striking the right family-work balance: This is another challenge for a woman especially since she has to carry out the household duties as well. Mrs Kochhar has made this very easy as she is the proud mother of a daughter who is as proud of her as she is of her daughter.
  • The business acumen: She has the right kind of business acumen to understand the future of the sector she is working in i.e. banking. Going by this, she has made quite a few acquisitions such as acquiring Bank of Rajasthan and merging it with ICICI Bank.
  • Focus on technology: She understood that technology is the future of banking very early and as a result of that, she started introducing technology in all the spheres in her bank. Because of this, the customer service improved and that resulted in this bank eating into the business of other public sector banks as well private banks.
  • Integrity and Determination: These are the two assets she still maintains as is observed by her colleagues. She has a much focused approach towards everything and she does not waste time in anything. Right from walking towards the lift in the morning till leaving the office in the evening, every minute is counted.

Some honors for the deserved candidate

The banking fraternity as well as the international financial fraternity has bestowed a number of honours on her because of her role in shaping the fledgling retail banking sector of the country.

  • She is the president of the International Monetary Conference, an international organization that brings together executives from the largest 30 organizations in the world together.
  • She has been conferred with the Padma Bhushan, one of India’s highest civilian honours by the Government of India in 2011.
  • She has been named as one of the TIME Magazine’s most influential people list in the year 2015
  • She is the Deputy Chairperson of the Indian Banks’ Association(IBA), a body of bankers in India
  • She has been ranked 36th in the Most Powerful Women list in the year 2015 by the Forbes Magazine.
  • She has also been a member of the Prime Minister’s Council on Trade and Industry, a high level board to decide on the trade and industry in the country.

Mrs Kochhar has made inroads in a male dominated bastion only with her grit, determination and the willingness to learn new things and thereby, overcoming new challenges. She has been phenomenal in her journey from a management trainee to the top ranked official in the largest private sector bank in India. She is, indeed, a role model for women as well as men what determination and hard work can do. All those who are aspiring to make it big in life, can take a leaf out of this lady’s book to understand how to make things happen despite being conservative and more importantly, a lady.

All the best!!

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