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Chanda Kochhar took up the responsibility as managing director and the Chief executive Officer of the second biggest private bank of India with assets of nearly $80bn; The ICICI Bank Ltd in 2009 May. She took up the reins of CEO as a successor to Vaman Kamath, who handles the position of non executive CEO of the bank currently.

Kocchar has put forth her efforts in the bank for about 24yrs; from the time she joined in ICICI Bank as a management trainee at a very young age of 22yrs, then a development financial institution. She successfully worked a great deal on all the major business parameters of the bank like commercial banking, Infrastructure group, various clients as many as 200, retail business, international and corporate business. This persistent effort and long innings across various divisions of the bank, strategic agility and emotional balance helped her to redefine and manage change effectively at the bank at various stages. What added to her sheer experience was, during her tenure at ICICI bank; the bank itself grew, diversified and evolved into banking giant and provided her a great platform for learning on a continuous basis and excelling in career.

This shows her consistency, openness to learning, ability to achieve any task; however difficult and tough it may be. She proved herself as a leader by heading all the groups successfully since two decades. Her exposure in banking, hard work and sheer experience gained her and edge as compared to other contenders in the Bank and made her journey from trainee to CEO. Having run all the businesses, now Kocchar is responsible for oversee a number of functions which include; finance, risk, audit, compliance, industrial relations, all those kind of things.

Immediate task of Kochhar after taking charge as CEO was to give focus and direction to the bank. She implemented a simple four C’s strategy which included Capital conservation, Cost efficiency, CASA (current accounts and savings accounts) and Credit quality. She spread this message innovatively through direct-to-home television within a closed user group, and this message was caught on quickly, in spite of complexity and size of the organization.

Under the strong leadership of Kochhar with in a short span of a year the bank has increased its capital adequacy, improved its share of current and savings account deficit and prevented slippages in non-performing assets. ICICI Bank, the country's largest private bank, has reported a net profit of Rs 1,452 crore for the quarter ended March 2011-an increase of 44% over the year-ago period. This is the lender's highest growth rate in the last seven years. The bank has also proposed a higher dividend of Rs 14 per share with its annual profits rising 28% to Rs 5,151 crore. The merger deal with the Bank of Rajasthan has taken place under the leadership of Kochhar valued Rs. 3041Cr; which was a win-win situation for all the stakeholders. There was substantial growth in all the aspects capital adequacy grew by 19.57%, advances grew by 18% and the banks loan book grew by Rs 4,000Crore. This was all possible by the level headed and balanced approach of Kochhar according to the challenges posed by the environment and leading by converting every challenge into an opportunity.

Career journey from Trainee to CEO
Chanda Kochhar joined ICICI bank as a trainee and put forth long efforts for 24yrs in different areas of banking nationally and internationally; which was quite rare opportunity one could get. She was a part of core team that worked on blue print for the commercial banking foray in 1993; in 1996 she was selected to head the infrastructure group in the areas of power, telecom and transportation. She also made her contribution for the growth of the bank; by taking charge of top 200 clients of the bank in 1998. Her biggest contribution to the bank was being selected to head retail business in 2000 and subsequently got promoted as Executive Director in 2001; in the same vertical. In April 2006; she was given additional responsibility of Deputy managing director heading both corporate and retail banking business of ICICI Bank. She was chosen to head both international and corporate business of ICICI from October 2006-2007. Later she was appointed as the Joint Managing Director and CFO. She was heading the Corporate Centre, was the Chief Financial Officer. A 16-member board of ICICI Bank put their seal on her appointment as the new Managing Director & CEO of the country's second-largest bank on May 1, 2009.


As a CEO, Kochhar has to take various shifts from the earlier banking trends of ICICI, during the tenure of Kamath. During Kamath’s tenure, the bank’s objective was growth at any cost as ICICI was converting itself from a development financial institution to a proper bank. It needed to grow any which way it could. Kamath succeeded in growing the balance sheet five fold in a decade. This growth gave indigestion.

Right now Chanda Kochhar is focusing on the following aspects; To find the right balance sheet mix: As of now the balance sheet is highly saturated with almost 60% advances invested in retail assets. This has to be leveled by scaling up international and rural portfolios. To bring back investors confidence in the bank: At this point of time when Kochhar started as CEO; the share price was dropped by 60% and the banking index has fallen by 45%. This issue should be addressed at the earliest. To identify right time to raise capital and manage capital adequacy: Kamath has raised a billion dollars as capital; when the equity market was highly fluctuating and uncertain. To look for new business opportunities and consolidate existing ones: Kamath has already introduced life and non- life insurance and scaled up the asset management and private equity business. Now there raised a need to look for new opportunities. To boost employee morale; at the time of job losses in the industry: As decisions were taken about the trimming the retail growth engine, there had been some reports of ICICI Bank laying-off employees.

Future Plans of Kochhar In May 2009, when Chanda Kochhar took charge as CEO of ICICI Bank, the world economic crisis was at its peak. ICICI Bank, had previously experienced rapid growth; but now required rapid change. Kochhar quickly launched a transformation to rebalance the bank’s mix of loans and funding and to cut its operating and credit losses. The measures were designed to resume growth with a fine- tuned business model. Kochhar wants the bank to rank among the top 20 in the world.

The bank prefers corporate and wholesale customer base now as compared to retail customers. It has moderated its aggression seen some years ago to grow the loan book. The consumer-credit business is altogether a new aspect in India as well as ICICI Bank. Kochhar was trying to create something that was not just new for her; but absolutely unknown to the organization and the country as a whole. On a personal level, it wasn't always easy. But as a leader, first of all you need to be adaptable, so you can quickly understand and move forward in new business situations and that you need to treat each challenge as an opportunity.

ICICI Bank Ltd., India’s largest private sector by assets, is getting ready to roll out a variety of financial products for villagers and farmers in rural India, said managing director and chief executive, Chanda Kochhar. From basic bank accounts to subsidy transfers to basic insurance for farm produce, the bank expects to offer these products in the next six months, she said in a recent conversation with India Real Time.ICICI, which is listed in New York, says it is readying this rural push ahead of others.” Over a period of time all banks will have to look at rural business,” said Mrs. Kochhar. “We are looking at a mix of channels to reach out to farmers including basic accounts, transfer of subsidies, some lending.”

Kochhar clarifies that the consolidation phase is over and that the bank is back on growth path. The businesses that the bank grows are home loans, car loans, project finance and trade finance. The bank was selective on unsecured loans and credit cards. Kochhar expects to grow the domestic balance sheet by at least 20%. The international balance sheet may grow at little less than 20% and overall the growth will account to 15% and 20%.

More about Kochhar
Born:17th November; 1961(49 yrs)
Occupation:Managing Director and CEO (April 2009)ICICI Bank
Residence: Mumbai, India
Country of citizenship: India
Almamater: Bachelor of Arts, Jai HindCollege; Mumbai Masters Degree;Jamnalal
 Bajaj institute of Management Studies
Religion: Hindu
Ethnicity: odhpur; Rajasthan
Marital Status: Married
Children: 2; a son and a daughter

Chanda Kochhar was born in November 17, 1961 in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. She spend most of her childhood days in Jaipur; Rajasthan. Later she moved to Mumbai to perceive her Bachelor of Arts degree from Jai Hind College. After her graduation in 1982 she pursued M.B.A and ICWAI. Later she did Maters Degree in Management from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies; Mumbai. A diligent student, Kochhar was busy collecting gold medals in management studies and cost accountancy; which she channelised to get to the top post of India's largest private sector bank; ICICI Bank. Kochhar spent her college years playing badminton and polishing her elocution skills; which later came handy in hard boardroom negotiations.

Chanda Kochhar currently resides in Mumbai, and is married to Deepak Kochhar, a wind energy entrepreneur and her Business schoolmate. She has two children, a son and a daughter. She did not face major problems in her career because her husband was understanding and cooperative. Her in-laws lived in the neighbouring building and helped her whenever she needed them. Her parents came and took charge of the children when she was away for long periods. Kochhar and her husband spend a good deal of time with the children and each other. Kochhar felt that rich and value-based family life, which has to be built by all concerned. Women must learn the value of building relationships within the family and among friends; so that children too can have several people to look up to rather than just their parents. Kochhar makes it a point to stay in touch with her children even when she travels for work. Kochhar’s 21-year-old daughter is in the U.S. but “she makes sure that she speaks to her when she has to wake up or study.”

Kochhar says women had to put more efforts than men, juggling between hectic work schedules and family life. She hardly gets to sleep around six hours a day. She has to often work and travel even on weekends and has to even run her home. She catches up sleep while traveling and answers her mails while on travel. She makes potential use of time. To manage time more efficiently, she attends meetings in New York by booking a morning-evening flight. She often schedule telephonic conferences during car rides and in between meetings. Kochhar is known to keep herself cool, whatever the situation may be; she doesn’t lose her temper, in fact she hates using the word stress at all, she replaces stress by the word excitement. She doesn’t mind working hard. She says that stress is worth it, because each time she evolves out of it out stronger, having learnt something useful.

Kochhar is a social and fun loving person.Kochhar loves to shop saris and jewellery in free time. She watches a lot of Hindi films and she is also a party lover and joins her friends in parties. She loves to eat, especially Thai food; the red curry is a favorite and also the Sindhi delicacies that her mother makes. Kochhar has a sweet tooth and enjoys eating ‘gujia” that she’ll have for Diwali, and he big special jalebis that are made during Holi.She never exercise or diet to keep herself fit. She is not orthodox, but traditional and reads Satya Narayana Pooja book while on travel.

Awards and Recognition

Kochhar is the only woman who has put forth extensive efforts in all business lines of banking; both locally and globally for more than two decades. She deserves awards and recognition for her contributions in ICICI Bank. The awards she bagged in the recent years for her work are as follows:

The awards Kochhar received in the year 2011.
Conferred with the "Padma Bhushan", one of India's highest civilian honour
Received the Global Leadership Award for her contribution to the US - India commercial relationship
Named as one of the two best Indian CEOs in an annual poll conducted by Finance Asia magazine
Named the "Transformational Business Leader of the Year", by All India Management Association
Ranked 17th among Fortune's 25 Most Powerful CEOs in Asia
Ranked 41st in the "50 Power List 2011", by India Today
Named in the list of 25 most powerful professional women of the country, by India Today
The awards Kochhar received in the year 2010
Ranked 11th by Financial Times in the "Top 50 Women in World Business"
Conferred with the "Outstanding Woman Business Leader of the Year" award by CNBC TV18, 2010
Conferred with the "Banker of the Year Award" by Financial Express
Ranked 92nd in the Forbes list of "Most Powerful Women" in the world
Ranked 10th in the Fortune's List of "Most Powerful Women in Business"
Conferred with the "Transformational Business Leader of the Year", by All India Management
 Association (AIMA)
Featured in the list of "30 Most Powerful Women Leaders", in Business Today for 8 consecutive
 years from 2002 to 2010
The awards that Kochhar received in 2009
Awarded with the Indian Business Women Leadership Award at NDTV Profit Business
 Leadership Awards
Ranked in the top 20 of the World's 100 Most Powerful Women list compiled by Forbes
The awards that Kochhar received in 2008
Ranked 25th in Fortune International Power 50 list

Affiliations and Memberships

Apart from being on the Board of ICICI Bank and various group companies, she is a member of the Prime Minister's Council on Trade & Industry, US-India CEO Forum, Executive Board of the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, Member of the Board of Governors of Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), Member of the Managing Committee of the Indian Banks Association and also a member of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research Society.

Kochhar’s view on privileges for women

Chanda Kochhar is an eminent leader and a woman with strong will power and quick and apt decision making capabilities; she is an icon of inspiration for many female executives.Inspite of being a great woman, Kochhar does not believe in special privileges for woman. She feels that woman need reservation on the ground of social justice in some areas and corporate India is not one of them.

A firm believer that the woman force in an organization can grow only through merit, Kochhar leads by example by not expecting any special privileges for being a woman. If women want to be treated as equals at the workplace, they should not be asserting their womanhood, says Ms. Kochhar.Avoid saying things like, “I have to go home at 5 o’ clock because I am a woman.” Or “I will not travel because I am a woman,” says Ms. Kochhar. “Whether you are a man or a woman, you need to put in the hard work,” says Ms. Kochhar. On juggling between a hectic work schedule and family life, Ms. Kochhar says that women need to put in much more effort than men, so they should continue working only if they don’t consider it a burden.

Kochhar’s Tenets for 21st century CEO’s

Kochhar says that the pace of change in 21st century is going to be even faster than it has been in the past. The ability of the CEO is to foresee the change and prepare the organization for the coming environment rather than just coping with the existing environment; and it is very important for the success of an organization.

The next tenet that would be especially relevant for India is that as we keep growing at this fast pace, we have to rely on leadership that will be younger and younger. We are a young country. The pace of growth is actually faster than the rate at which our leadership is aging. As leaders, we will have to learn how to rely on younger and younger people; give them more responsibilities at a younger age; mentor them that much better, guide them that much more, and get them to handle more responsibilities.

The next tenet is; to find right balance between being a visionary and making sure that execution takes place. What happens with most CEO’s is that they go to one extreme. They are so visionary that their ideas sometimes don’t transform into reality, or they get so involved in day-to-day matters that they don’t allow their team to breathe, or they themselves don’t have the time to think next big step.

The next tenet is; as you go up the chain, life is more and more lonely. It’s very important to be in touch with ground reality.Kochhar says the best learning she had got after becoming CEO, is when she spends 30-40min at a branch and see how customers come in and how her youngest employees speak to the customers and deal with them. She thinks it is the best learning. She says it is always important to keep touching base with reality so that whatever you dream of has some connection with reality.

Kochhar’s advices for new bank entrants

The basic knowledge of banking is very important. However, a banking professional must acquire the soft skills needed to deal with customers while keeping in mind the interest of the bank. In other words, an efficient banker must be sensitive to customer needs but must have sound risk assessment skills. In banking, you must be able to assess risks, and take appropriate decisions.

A person should enter their career with a very open mind, because you have to constantly learn. When we leave school, we tend to believe we know it all. But when we start to work, that's really the beginning of school all over again. We need to start work with the idea that we're going to learn every day. I learn, even at my position, every single day. My second piece of advice would be that there is no substitute for hard work. Even as one gets opportunities, one gets challenges, and hard work is essential for success. Third, whenever there's a challenge, I see an opportunity in it: You have to find a way of converting challenges into opportunities. That's the way one learns and moves forward. I evaluate a leader more in terms of how the leader performs in difficult times, rather than how that leader performs in easy times. A person who can take on a challenge and maintain equanimity and turn it into an opportunity; according to me, that's the biggest leader.

The customer of the next 20 years will be a product of social thinking and preference of the youth of today. Thus today's young employee has a distinctive advantage of being able to understand and service the needs of the emerging customers. They will play an important part in shaping ICICI Bank's thinking, business model and processes. Their innate comfort with technological changes will also help them and through them the bank to adapt and deliver appropriate products and services. The youth of today should learn to stick it out in one area at least for a reasonable period of time which will help them build personal skill and capability to make a difference. They should learn to be able to under play individualism and collaborate more with their collegues.Lastly they should develop the ability to focus and concentrate on select areas for sufficient time without losing attention and concentration the way they browse the channels or the net.

Hope viewers caught up spark…