Friday, December 19, 2008

Chanda Kochhar

ICICI Bank has been the home of quite a few hi-fi(nance) women for quite sometime, so the choice of Ms. Chanda Kochhar as the next CEO of the ICICI Bank is not surprising at all. Yet, her elevation to the top job in India's largest private bank is certainly worth celebrating as a major milestone for women in business. Here's the Mint story:

Confirming a succession that had been widely anticipated, ICICI Bank Ltd is set to formally anoint Chanda Kochhar as chief executive-designate, putting a driven but low-key woman banker at the helm of India’s largest private bank.

When finally named CEO in May, Kochhar, 47, will be the youngest in the bank’s 54-year history. She will take over from the well-regarded K.V. Kamath who ... will become the non-executive chairman of the bank ...

Women in Indian banking industry still have a long way to go. Here's another excerpt from the same Mint report:

Only two women have risen to the top position in Indian banking, both at state-run banks following their nationalization. Ranjana Kumar took over the reins at the Chennai-based Indian Bank in May 2000.

The second woman chairperson, H.A. Daruwalla, reached the top in 2005 at the Mumbai-based Central Bank of India. Kochhar will become CEO after Daruwalla retires and will then be the lone woman bank CEO in India, at least as of now.

Two of the four deputy governors at the RBI are women—Usha Thorat and Shyamla Gopinath. RBI had to wait 68 years to get its first woman deputy governor in K.J. Udeshi, who was elevated to the post in 2003.

Out of 2.18 lakh bank officers in India, only 5.6% are women. But women’s representation goes up to 21% when it comes to the clerical cadre. Overall, women account for 14% of 7.71 lakh state-run bank employees.

In this background, the record of ICICI Bank is truly outstanding:

ICICI Bank, however, has about 33% women and at the senior level, this rises to 40%. The bank’s board has two women directors: Kochhar and an executive director Madhabi Puri Buch. Also on staff are Shikha Sharma, who heads the group’s life insurance business, and Renuka Ramnath, who heads the venture capital wing.