5 Most Influential Indian Women leading Country's Top Financial Institutions

By: WE Staff

Indian women have been smashing down obstacles and setting the pace in a variety of industries, with the financial sector being one among them. For the longest time, the financial business was thought to be exclusively for men. But over the past few years, women’s representation in the financial industry across the globe has altered greatly.

India is no different. Today, the nation is home to several consummate women professionals who are influencing India's financial sector and motivating others to follow in their footsteps. These women have trounced employment discrimination against them by working hard, being talented, and being smart.

From heading some of the most prestigious Indian banks to leading top financial institutions in the country, women leaders have done it all. They have made significant contributions to the expansion of the Indian financial industry like other accomplished women in every field and have established themselves as role models for both men and women.

We bring to you some of the most accomplished Indian women in the field of finance.

Arundhati Bhattacharya

Arundhati Bhattacharya, the first female chairman of the SBI, is a former banker. She was the first woman to hold the position of chair of SBI, the biggest bank in the country. Under her leadership SBI expanded its network to roughly 17,000 branches and now serves over 330 million customers universally. 
Despite being drawn to journalism, Arundhati decided to sit for the SBI probationary officer exam in 1977 at the age of 22; she eventually qualified. The only female banker on the list of global giants, Arundhati became the first woman ever to oversee a Fortune 500 corporation in India. A female role model to many, she has encouraged many female entrepreneurs to take action.

Ranjana Kumar

Ranjana Kumar is considered to be the first woman to become the head of a public sector bank in India. She served as the Chairperson and managing director of the Indian Bank when she received this honor. Ranjana leveraged numerous career opportunities and worked for some prestigious institutions such as NABARD as the Chairperson and former Vigilance Commissioner in Central Vigilance Commission. She did exemplary service during her posting as the head of the Indian Bank. During the year when she was appointed, the bank was undergoing hard times with heavy losses; Ranjana managed to make a turnaround of the bank during her service.

She belongs to a family of freedom fighters. Her father was an air force officer who had a transferrable job. After completing her schooling, Ranjana started her career as a probationary officer in a bank in her 20s.

Shanti Ekambaram

Shanti Ekambaram started her vocation with the Bank of Nova Scotia. Later, she became an employee of Kotak Mahindra Group and has been in charge of directing the advancement of the bank's punter operations, predominantly on the digital front in Kotak Mahindra Group. She was accountable for advancing data analytics and utilizing it across numerous client groups.

In April 2014, Shanti was promoted to Head of the Consumers Banking Division at Kotak Mahindra Bank after spending 23 years in investing and corporate banking, the last 11 of them as the division's head. She has also been coaching and preparing women for important positions in the bank.

Shanti has been titled by Business Today as the "Most Powerful Women in Indian Business" for continuous five years, from 2013 to 2017. She has received 2013 recipient of the "CA Women Business Leader" award and the Ladies' Wing of Indian Merchants' Chamber honoured as "Woman of the Year" in Banking and Financial Services for 2013–14.

Shikha Sharma

Shikha Sharma presently serves as the Managing Director and CEO of Axis Bank which was started in 1994. Additionally, she holds the positions of Chairperson for Axis Asset Management Company Limited, Axis Bank UK Limited, Axis Capital Limited, and Axis Private Equity Limited.

Her three decade long career started immediately after she received her diploma from IIM, Ahmadabad. Shikha began working with India's leading financial services provider, Industrial Credit, and Investment Corporation of India (ICICI), in 1980.

She has received awards like Transformational Business Leader of the Year at AIMA’s Managing India Awards in 2012, Woman Leader of the year’ at Bloomberg UTV Financial Leadership Awards in 2012, Businessworld’s Banker of the Year Award in 2012, Forbes List of Asia’s 50 Power Business Women – 2012, Indian Express Most Powerful Indians – 2012, and what not!

Shyamala Gopinath

Shyamala Gopinath the chairperson of HDFC Bank, which is considered India's largest lender by market value, was born on 20th June 1949. She is the former Reserve Bank of India deputy governor and held this prestigious position for seven years. She was also actively present in the balance of payment crisis management in India in the year 1991, which resulted in the country's initial economic liberalization. Before becoming the chairperson, Shyamala also provided support to the second Narasimhan committee's work on banking sector reform.

Shyamala was also appointed as the Chairperson of the CVC Advisory Board and Executive Director of Clearing Corporation of India Limited before she retired from the Reserve Bank of India. She was regarded as the most soft-spoken person as a Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India.

These prolific women are hailing a country of strong women out to claim their own space in the sun by reinforcing the notion that ability and hard work are the keys to success and that gender has no bearing on either.