She loves Carnatic music. She plays the veena in her spare time. Her friends and colleagues know her as a perfectionist. Meet Chitra Ramkrishna, 49, the new managing director and CEO of NSE, the world’s largest stock exchange in terms of trade volumes — and a quiet, self-effacing force in India’s economic reforms.
Sporting traditional sarees and casual looks that stand in contrast to some of the storied women of high finance, Ramkrishna, who shuns the limelight, was part of the five-member core team chosen by the government to set up the National Stock Exchange (NSE) in 1994.
She has steadily grown as the tech-savvy challenger to the century-old Bombay Stock Exchange took the market’s centre-stage.
“Her desire for perfection in everything she does has led to the creation of world class institution (NSE),” said Nageswar Rao, MD and CEO, IDBI Federal Life Insurance, who worked with the new NSE chief when she was working at the IDBI. “With deep understanding of financials, she can bring clarity to any complex financial matter,” he added.
However, for someone called a perfectionist she does not attract the tag of an autocrat. “At work, she accepts nothing less than the best,” said a senior official at a stock market research company who has worked with her in the past. “
“But she gives freedom of work to team members, and allows people to grow. She believes that nobody’s role should be undermined in the organisation,” her former colleague said.
Ramkrishna holds a degree from the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, UK, and is also a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India. She was part of a team that drafted the legislative framework for the capital market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) in 1987. She was also on the committee on financial sector reforms headed by Raghuram Rajan, the current chief economic advisor, in 2008.
True to her media-shy image, Ramkrishna declined to be interviewed for this report. “She will interact with the media later,” the NSE spokesperson curtly told HT. The only interview she gave in recent times was with Ravi Narain, who has given his position to her and moved up as non-executive vice-chairman.