Wednesday, February 21, 2007

CEO

Neena Singh, Senior VP, Head Branch Banking (North), HDFC Bank
Right now, on her table, you will find Jack Welsh’s Winning, Amartya Sen’s Identity and Violence; Bimal Jalan’s The Indian Economy and Undercover Economist by Cim Harford. She is reading them all. Well, she is also reading Bachchan’s Madhushala and keeps sprinkling couplets during our conversation. Neena Singh is the only female regional head in the HDFC Bank. A senior vice president, she has been in banking past 28 years. We stole some time out of her busy schedule to give us an insight into banking.
What is the current scenario in the banking sector? The kind of banking that is gaining ground is retail branch banking. Because it is broad-based as a customer gets all kinds of products under one roof, it is being largely preferred.
HDFC Bank is among companies with the lowest attrition rate. How do you manage that?Our objective is to become a world class bank. That can happen only when our efficiency level is very high, we have superior products in our bouquet, we provide excellent services and look after our people. All these things can not happen until and unless we have the right people in the right place. So we ensure that we hire a person for all the right reasons for a certain post, so that we limit the number of reasons for which he may want to quit.
What role does inter communication play in that?We have a very open system. There are many communication channels within our organisation. I am just a mail away for my team. They can share their problems with me in the same way that they would want to share their success. If that happens, everyone communicates freely, then there would be no misunderstandings and no need for anyone to leave an organisation for wrong reasons.
In the times of immense pressures of meeting targets and deadlines do ends matter or the means?Means are very important. I would not like it if you would go to any lengths just to achieve a target because when the process isn’t correct, there are chances of error in the output but when the process is correct or right than there is no scope of an error.
What are the requirements to join this field?An academic degree like an MBA from a good institute is a must. It also depends on the kind of vacancy but the most important condition that one should be fulfilling is respect for values and ethics. We are not selling anything tangible, so you have to win a customer’s trust. So, you have to be trustworthy and honest. Then there are many attributes like aptitude, background etc.
What are your strengths as a leader?You should ask that from my team. I am a team player and I believe that the kind of synergy a team creates is more than any individual. I am also very approachable, my outlook is very positive and I think I am a good leader. Any shortcomings?I am very strict, on myself as well as my team. I believe that one can strive for excellence and it does not come easily. You have to enforce some discipline to achieve it.

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