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Our Inspiring Woman this week is Arundhati Bhattacharya who recently made the headlines for becoming the State Bank of India’s first female Chairperson. Currently CFO and Managing Director at SBI, she has been with SBI for over 35 years, in an illustrious career across multiple roles and subsidiaries.
Women heading banks is not a new trend in India, especially with well-known female CEOs in the private sector such Chanda Kochhar of ICICI and Shikha Sharma of Axis Bank. However, SBI is India’s largest bank and in the bank’s over 200 years of existence, this is the first time a woman will be leading it. That is certainly a first worth celebrating.
She was also previously the bank’s first female Managing Director, so this is a woman with a history of firsts! Her achievements at SBI have included the setting up of subsidiaries such as General Insurance and the Macquarie Infrastructure fund.
She has been upfront in talking about the challenges that women face in moving up the ladder. In one interview to the media, she says, “Often, people wonder if she can give the time required at work, given also her responsibilities at home. So a woman has to prove her worth over and over again each time she’s given a new responsibility, especially when she is at junior to mid-level position.”
Even as more women reach the top in the financial sector, we need more women – and men – being upfront about the challenges women face, and how they can navigate these, as well as get the institution to remove obstacles in their path up.
Arundhati Bhattacharya is an inspiration for proving again that women can do it, and here’s hoping that more women at the top will reach out to those of us younger and making the same journey.
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