Arundhati Bhattacharya made news when she became the first woman chairperson of the State Bank of India, the largest commercial lender of the country. But that is not what makes her different in an industry which is basically considered a male bastion till now, but her vision for the future of banking does. She does not rest on past laurels but creates the way to win more and more laurels in the future.
Arundhati Bhattacharya: Let’s see the roots
The first ever lady boss of the 208-year old lender is a post graduate in English Literature from the Jadavpur University in Kolkata. As she says, her teachers always wanted her to do something that would utilize her talent and creativity. Hence, banking was never on her radar. But in 1977, when she came to know that her friends are filling up the application form for SBI PO, she also chipped in and made it to the final list. After that, there was no looking back as she became the topmost boss of the most prestigious bank in India.
Taking SBI to new Heights: Charting new Territories
It was not the end of road for Arundhati Bhattacharya once she became the Chairman of SBI as she had made tremendous efforts in her two years as the boss to make SBI one of the best banks in the world and with the new merger proposal of SBI with other associate banks, it will come in the top 50 list of international banks. So, what are the things that make her different?
- The Digital Revolution: One thing that is the best about the present SBI boss is her vision for future. She understood that digital banking is the future and thus, launched a number of digital banking products such as SBIiNTOUCH, SBI Buddy etc.
- Controlling the NPA: SBI is the leader of the consortium that has filed the case against Vijay Mallya for defaulting on the loans. She has already made it clear that if anybody takes a loan from the bank, he or she needs to repay it at any cost.
- Control cost but rationally: She has made it clear that expenses should be reduced but not at the cost of gaining business for the bank. She mentioned that the bank should cut expenses but only the unnecessary ones.
- A Role model for aspiring women: Having featured in top 10 of the Forbes’ Most Powerful Women in the finance sector of the world and in the top 25 in the list of top 100 most powerful women of the world, Arundhati Bhattacharya is a perfect model to look forward to for the current generation of aspiring young women.
- Introduced several schemes for benefit of the women employees: She has introduced several schemes for the benefit of women employees such as two year sabbatical for study, flexi timing, transfers nearest to the place where the family lives etc. She has made it a point that though SBI has more than 10 women at the General Manager level, the banking industry as a whole does not boast of the same.
- Reducing the ‘famous’ red-tapism: This is the most difficult task she must have achieved in the history of the bank. She has made it easier for her managers and DGMs to take decisions based on their best judgments. Work gets moving very easily these days even for the public sector behemoth of the country.
- Having a clear vision: This is what makes her different and unique when compared to other bankers. She can clearly see what banking will be like in the next decade and takes decisions accordingly. The SMART package offered to probationary officers, sharing of profits with employees are some of the ideas that are ahead of its time for public sector but she has already foreseen it.
- Having keen business acumen: This is what she has learnt while her stint at MD-CEO of the SBI Capitals and also on her international assignments. She understood the importance of strategic mergers and acquisitions and it is evident from tie-ups with companies such as Amazon, Flipkart etc.
The present SBI Chairman has a vision and she has the guts to put that in practice. This is what makes her different from others. Being a woman, it is no mean feat to occupy that coveted corner room at SBI Head Office in Mumbai but she has gone way beyond that: towards a better SBI, towards a better banking experience for the generations to come. Truly, she is a role model not only for women but for leaders as a whole.