Chanda Kochhar is an iconic business woman of India and the wider world. She has been recognized on the global stage again and again for her role shaping the retail banking industry in India. If it weren’t for the leadership she has shown over the years, electronic banking in India would not be where it is today.
Her life began in Jodhpur, Rajasthan where she was born. She then moved to Mumbai to attend Jai Hind College, where she earned her Bachelor’s degree. She continued her education with a Master’s degree at Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies.
Her career began in 1984 at Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India (ICICI), the largest private financial institution in India. There, she started off as a management trainee. She worked her way up the company until in the 1990s she became one of the key figures in establishing the bank. By 1998 she was the general manager and working with ICICI’s top 200 clients. In 2001 she became executive direction, to be followed up in 2006 where she became the deputy managing director, and then in 2007 where she became the chief financial officer, also known as a CFO.
Modern electronic retail banking, like ATMs and personal loans, were brought to India through ICICI while Chanda Kochhar led the bank. Without her efforts, banking in India would be different today. It is this kind of corporate leadership and bold decision making that has earned her so much recognition.
Under Chanda Kochhar’s leadership, both the bank and herself received many awards. ICICI was named the “Best Retail Bank in India” in 2001, 2003, 2004 and 2005 while she was in charge.
She was the first Indian woman to be awarded the Woodrow Wilson Award for Global Citizenship. In the past, this award has been given to people such as Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice. The Woodrow Wilson award is for executives who go beyond the financial aspects of their job and look at ways they can make the world better through their work. Chanda Kochhar was recognized after she began a community outreach program at her bank called ICICI Digital Village. This program worked with 11,000 villagers in 17 states in India to provide job training and financial tools so they could become entrepreneurs.
During her time as a leading voice at ICICI, where she eventually became the managing director and CEO, Chanda Kochhar worked to be a leading example of empowerment and used that power to shape banking throughout the country and change the way things were done at her bank. She not only led the way for banking in India, she led the way for CEOs who come behind her.