Women bankers should come with the right attitude: Usha Ananthasubramanian
| Indian Observer Post - 28 Jan 2018

Women bankers should come with the right attitude:

Usha Ananthasubramanian

  • Usha Ananthasubramanian is now the First Woman Chairman of the IBA


Onkareshwar Pandey

New Delhi, Jan 28, 2018

"Women’s strength in fostering relationships and emotional sensitivity greatly help in developing customer relationships.  Banking is a business of taking risks and women have been seen as more practical and moderate risk takers.  Women have the attribute to place themselves in the shoes of the customers and understand where the shoe pinches and remedy it.  Normally men try to dominate, whereas women orchestrate." - The woman who said this in an Interview with The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) 5 years ago, is now Chairman of Indian Banks' Association (IBA), a representative body of management of banking in India. Formed on 26 September 1946 as an association of Indian banks and financial institutions based in Mumbai, the IBA currently represents 237 banking companies operating in India.

She is none other than Ms Usha Ananthasubramanian, who was kind of put on trial by fire, when she  took over as the MD & CEO of Allahabad Bank, the country’s second-largest public sector bank, three years ago in August 2015.

Ms Usha Ananthasubramanian has become the First Woman Chairman of the Indian Banks' Association, the 71-year old industry body for banks. IBA announced that its managing committee on Thursday elected Ananthasubramanian as the chairman till August. She will be superannuating on August 31, 2018. 

Before this, she was deputy chairman and Jatinder Bir Singh, chairman and managing director of Punjab & Sind Bank, was the chairman of the industry body till his retirement on December 31, 2017. 

Ms. Ananthasubramanian had served as Managing Director and CEO of Punjab National Bank from August 2015 till 2017. During the period from July 2011 to November 2013, she was the Executive Director of the Bank (PNB). Prior to joining the PNB, Ms.

First CMD of India’s First -Women’s Bank

Ms Ananthasubramanian was the first Chairman & Managing Director of Bharatiya Mahila Bank, India’s first -women’s bank. She was actively involved in preparing the business model and groundwork of the bank since the beginning. She was part of the Committee formed for examination of the blue print and other related tasks for setting up of the first women focused Bank in India and headed the core management team constituted by the Ministry of Finance, Government of India, for coordinating the process of establishment of Bhartiya Mahila Bank.

She holds a Master’s Degree in Statistics from the University of Madras and a Master’s Degree in Ancient Indian Culture from University of Mumbai. She started her banking career in February 1982 as a Specialist Officer and rose to the post of General Manager in Bank of Baroda. In a career spanning over 33 years, she has worked in various positions and acquired vast versatile banking experience.

Ms Ananthasubramanian who comes from Chennai, holds two master’s degrees, one in statistics from University of Madras in Chennai, the other in ancient Indian Culture from University of Mumbai. 

Her mother was a homemaker. Her father, who was a teacher, told her when she was young that the best gift that he could give her was good education.  While statistics helped get her her first job as a specialist – an actuarial assistant – in the country’s largest insurer Life Insurance Corp.,  she says knowing about ancient Indian culture gave her an insight into risk management. 

She started her banking career in state-run Bank of Baroda in 1982 as a specialist officer in planning. She helped the bank move into the insurance business. She moved to Punjab National Bank in July 2011 to take up her current role as executive director. 

According to Ananthasubramanian, "Women bankers should come with the right attitude and need to prioritize commitment, decide what needs to be sacrificed, and should be open to opportunities. In the Indian context, women bankers want to be career women, good homemakers and also fulfill their interests at the same time. This results in split-commitment challenge that women face as they climb the ladder. On the other side, there are women who have sharp business sense, but do not get opportunities.

Sharing one of the best experiences in her career, Ms. Ananthasubramanian said, "I was working as branch head of Cuffe Parade branch of Bank of Baroda in Mumbai and that is a place for the affluent segment of the society.  One fine day, a man in his late twenties walked into my cabin.  He was a fisherman who had just finished his day’s fishing and had sold his catch and made his way to the branch with his pants wet, stinking with fish smell.  For a moment, I was puzzled and thought what made him walk into my branch when there are two other bank branches on the ground floor. When I began my conversation with him, I understood that he wanted a small sum as a loan.  It made me realize, working in the public sector space gave me an opportunity to serve the real two faces of India, the poor as well as the affluent."

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