Women have been taking charge in some of the top companies across the globe and the same can be witnessed in India, where women have been representing some of the top banks and financial institutions in the country. They take decisions that affect millions of people in the country along with raising the standards of the country. In our traditional overview of the most influential women in Indian BFSI, we would like to mention a few exceptional professionals whose leadership has enabled n banking and financial institutions to flourish and touch new heights in the country.
Aisha de Sequeira has had a phenomenal 20-year career in Morgan Stanley. She currently oversees the full spectrum of investment banking services including advisory and capital-raising for Indian clients. In the past few years, she has focused on advising global consumer companies including Unilever, The May Department Stores Company (merged with Federated Department Stores in 2005 – now Macy’s), and PepsiCo.
Anjuly Chib Duggal, Secretary Secretary at Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Finance, Government of India
In her present position, she deals with matters relating to banking, financial institutions, insurance, pension reforms, etc., and reports to the Finance Minister of India. Prior to her current role, she was the Secretary at the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, the Government of India. She has also worked as a Special Additional Secretary and Joint Secretary in the Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance.
Anshula Kant, Deputy MD and CFO of the largest lender in India, State Bank of India, has been associated for over 34 years with the bank; she had joined as a Probationary Officer and has been assigned various roles in the organization such as Chief General Manager of Mumbai, Chief Executive Officer, Singapore at SBI, and Deputy MD of Operations for National Banking Group due to her grit and determination. She has also served as the Director of Central Depository Services (India) and the Nominee Director of Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Limited.
Anuradha Rao, MD & CEO of one of the largest mutual funds company in India, State Bank of India Mutual Funds, is overseeing the future network and is working continuously towards offering the best services to investors through a process-driven approach. A Master of Science (M.Sc) and a CAIIB graduate, Ms. Rao joined SBI as a Probation Officer in 1982 and has traversed through various functions & assignments with SBI including VP (Credit) in Chicago, Deputy MD (new business portfolio), and faculty for Credit at SBSC Hyderabad.
Arundhati Bhattacharya Chairperson, State Bank of India (SBI)
Chairperson of the largest public bank of India (capitalization), State Bank of India, Arundhati Bhattacharya is a real role model to the women in her country. Forbes listed her as the 25th ‘Most Powerful Woman in the World’ in 2016 and the 30th ‘Most Powerful Woman in the World’ in 2015. Beginning her career at SBI as a Probationary Officer at the age of 22, Arundhati Bhattacharya has now been working with SBI for around four decades. Her sincere and loyal service to the country’s largest lender made her the youngest and the first female chairperson at the State Bank of India. She has also introduced a two-year sabbatical policy for women in the company, which will help the women employees in SBI enormously.
Ashu Suyash, Managing Director and CEO of CRISIL (an analytical company and provider of ratings, data and research, analytics & solutions), is responsible for CRISIL’s domestic & global businesses and leads. Ms. Ashu has a rich experience of 28 years in the financial service sector and has held positions such as CEO at L&T Investment Management Limited and L&T Capital Markets Limited, and MD & Country Head of Fidelity’s Indian asset management business. Ms. Suyash is also on the advisory board of Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment and PFRDA’s Pension Advisory Committee.
CEO and MD of one of the other Big Four banks of India, ICICI Bank, Chanda Kochhar is one of the pillars of success in the retail business of the bank in India. When she led the retail business for the bank, the bank won the “Best Retail Bank in India” in 2001 and also for three consecutive years from 2003. Under her leadership, ICICI Bank also won many other awards for their initiatives in retail banking. Forbes listed Chanda Kochhar as 25th ’Most Powerful Woman in Asia’ in 2016. She has worked for ICICI Bank for 30 years and has proved herself as a strong leader not only in India but also the world.
Kaku Nakhate, India head of Bank of America Merrill Lynch has a very powerful personality. Under her leadership, Bank of America Merrill Lynch became one of the key players in the corporate finance industry in India. It is known that the bank’s balance sheets tripled within two years as Kaku Nakhate lead the team. An MBA graduate from Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies in Mumbai, Kaku Nakhate has also served as the Vice Chairperson of Indian Operations at JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Kalpana Morparia CEO, JP Morgan
CEO of the Indian division of America’s largest bank by total assets, JP Morgan, Kalpana Morparia has around four decades of experience in the banking sector. Before JP Morgan, she has worked with ICICI Bank for more than 30 years and has contributed a lot to ICICI’s early success including its listing on the New York Stock Exchange in 1999. She was also a part of the merger of ICICI Limited with ICICI Bank that led to the formation of one of the largest bank in India. Kalpana began as a lawyer in ICICI Bank and her outstanding performance in her professional life has enabled her to reach where she is today. Kalpana Morparia is one amongst the Board of Directors for several other institutions like Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, Bennett & Coleman, and Tata Consultancy’s CMC Limited.
Madhabi Puri Buch, a Whole-Time Member at Securities and Exchange Board of India, is handling the Market Regulation Department, the Market Intermediaries Regulation and Supervision Department, the Integrated Surveillance Department, the Department of Economic & Policy Analysis, the Office of Investor Assistance & Education, the National Institute of Securities Markets, and the Information Technology Department. Prior to joining SEBI, Ms. Buch served as a consultant to the New Development Bank in Shanghai and as the Head of the Singapore office of the private equity firm, Greater Pacific Capital. An alumnus of Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, Ms. Buch has also served as MD & CEO at ICICI Securities Limited and as the Executive Director on ICICI Bank’s board.
Meena Hemchandra, Executive Director at Reserve Bank of India, is in charge of the Department of Non-banking Supervision and the Department of Co-operative Banking Supervision. A chartered financial analyst from ICFAI India, Ms. Meena Hemchandra has been associated with various organizations; she has worked in the Department of External Investment & Operations, Bharatiya Reserve Bank Note Mudran, and Reserve Bank's College of Agriculture Banking in Pune as a Principal. She is also currently working as the Executive Director at Export Credit Guarantee Corporation of India Ltd.
She has worked in various departments including actuarial, investment, finance, accounts, policy servicing, claims, and HR in IRDAI. Ms. Gupte, who is a graduate in Statistics and Fellow of the Actuarial Society of India (FASI), has been associated with various organizations such as Kotak Mahindra Life Insurance Company, Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance Company, Reliance Life Insurance Company Limited, and Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC).
MD of one of the largest financial institution by market capitalization within India, HDFC (Housing Development Finance Corporation Limited), Renu Sud Karnad has been associated with the bank since the starting of her career in 1978. After spending two decades in various positions, Mrs. Karnad was inducted on to the Board as an Executive Director in 2000 and was further elevated to the post of Managing Director in 2010. She is also the Chairperson of Credila Financial Services Private Limited and HDFC Property Ventures Limited, and holds the Director position in various organizations.
Renu Satti, Chief Executive Officer of Paytm Payments Bank, is a diligent and hardworking person who has the capability of taking new challenges and delivering upon it. Renu joined One97 Communications 11 years ago as an HR and has grown in the organization. In her previous role at Paytm, she was handling the movies and events business, which went from zero to over 200,000 movie tickets sales a day in less than a year.
RM Vishaka Managing Director & CEO, IndiaFirst Life Insurance
RM Vishaka is a seasoned BFSI professional with 28 years of experience. A chartered accountant by training, Ms. Vishaka started her career in New India Assurance and then worked in various positions at the company and then moved across a range of private insurance companies including Canara HSBC Oriental Life Insurance Company, IDBI Federal Life Insurance Company, Birla Sun Life Insurance Company, and Universal Sompo General Insurance Company.
President of Consumer Banking, Kotak Mahindra Bank
President of Consumer Banking of India’s fourth largest bank (market capitalization), Kotak Mahindra Bank, Shanti Ekambaram is another magnificent personality in the Indian banking industry. While she served as the President of Corporate & Investment Banking, Shanti doubled the profit for the unit in 2012-13 in spite of the unstable conditions in equity and debt markets. Shanti Ekambaram was named one amongst the ‘Most Powerful Women in Indian Business’ in 2016, by Business Today. Shanti’s colleagues have praised her for her great leadership and firm decision-making skills.
Shikha Sharma CEO & Managing Director, Axis Bank
CEO and Managing Director of India’s largest bank (assets) in the private sector, Axis Bank, Shikha Sharma has performed phenomenally in her professional life. She has more than three decades of experience in the financial industry and has worked for big institutions including ICICI bank and JP Morgan & Co. Under Shikha’s leadership, Axis Bank’s net profit in 2015-16 rose 18.3% to Rs. 7,358 crore, the operating profit by 24% to Rs. 3,582 crore, while the net interest income grew 19% to Rs. 14,224 crore.
Usha Ananthasubramanian CEO & Managing Director, Allahabad Bank
CEO and MD of Allahabad Bank, Usha Ananthasubramanian has been honored by the Ministry of Finance, Government of India for her leadership in the establishment of the all-women bank (Bhartiya Mahila Bank) in India. In her over-three-decade career in banking, she has worked with prominent Indian financial institutions like LIC, Bank of Baroda, Punjab National Bank, and Bhartiya Mahila Bank. Under her leadership, Punjab National Bank received the ‘Most Socially Responsible Bank Award’ in 2011 by Businessworld-PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). On behalf of Bhartiya Mahila Bank, Usha Ananthasubramanian also received the ‘Asian Banker Achievement Award’ in 2015 (technology implementation category of ‘Best Outsourcing Project.’)
MD of the biggest life insurance company of India, Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), Usha Sangwan is the first woman to reach this position in the company which has over 250 million customers and more than 1.1 million agents. She has also been awarded the ‘Women Leadership Award’ in the BFSI sector by the Institute of Public Enterprise and ‘Brand Slam Leadership Award’ by CMO Asia for her excellent contribution to the organization. Previously, she was responsible for turning around LIC’s housing finance arm by taking it to the international market and segregating the marketing & underwriting division, which enabled LIC housing finance to tap the global market easily.
CEO at Société Générale Global Solutions Centre, Veronique Sani is a dynamic leader with a successful track record in transformation projects and operational excellence. Prior to moving to India, Veronique was based in New York and led the integration of Newedge Brokerage Operations. She has held many management positions in Equity Derivatives and OTC Derivatives Operations in Société Générale. Her ambition and passion for excellence for herself and for her teams have helped her develop a clear vision for SG GSC.
Zarin Daruwala, CEO of Standard Chartered Bank India is the first woman to hold this position in 150 years of the bank’s history. Zarin has a rich 25 years of experience in the industry with ICICI Bank and has led teams in teams in corporate banking, project finance, structured finance, financial institutions, government and public sector banking, as well as building out ICICI’s rural and agri-finance offerings.