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Power women lead charge...

The anointing of Chanda Kochhar to head ICICI Bank is the crowning glory for the woman who turned out to be the winner in a race of accomplished home-bred talent in the country’s largest private bank.

business Updated: Dec 19, 2008 21:12 IST
HT Correspondent

The anointing of Chanda Kochhar on Friday to head ICICI Bank is the crowning glory for the woman who turned out to be the winner in a race of accomplished home-bred talent in the country’s largest private bank. But it is not just in ICICI that power women are leaving their mark in India’s high finance industry.

Both public and private sector banks, and Indian and foreign banks alike, have spawned woman leaders who moved right to the top over the past decade, making banking probably the first sector in which the gender barrier has been visibly and substantially broken.

Until a new months ago, Kalpana Morparia was in ICICI, but she is now the CEO for India of JP Morgan Chase, the venerable Wall Street firm. Morparia started out in ICICI’s legal department in 1975 and spent nearly two decades there before becoming a general manager on her journey to the bank’s board in 2001.

A year later, she became executive director and became joint managing director in 2006 before retiring and re-joining as Chief Strategy and Communications Officer before JPMC picked her up to make its debut in India.

Naina Lal Kidwai, the India CEO for HSBC, is a Harvard Business School graduate who began her career with ANZ Grindlays before running Morgan Stanely’s Indian operations. A trained chartered accountant, she was named HSBC’s country head for India in 2005, after joining the group in 2002.

A relatively less visible figure is Homai Daruwalla, currently chairman and managing director of state-owned Central Bank of India. A chartered accountant by training, she was previously with Union Bank of India and later became executive director of the Oriental Bank of Commerce.

Meera H. Sanyal is the India head for ABN Amro Bank – now part of the Royal Bank of Scotland group. An MBA from France’s respected INSEAD school, Sanyal started her career with Grindlays, which was acquired by the Standard Chartered Bank.

After starting out in 1984, she moved to Lazard Creditcapital as head of international finance and joined ABN as head of structured finance in 1992 before rising up in its global ranks, moving to Singapore and then moving back to India in 1999 as Chief Operating Officer.

With learning at Harvard Business School’s advanced management programme on the side, Sanyal is also a fellow of UK’s Chartered Institute of Bankers.