Arundhati Bhattacharya, who recently retired as the chairman of State Bank of India, the country’s largest bank, believes the problem of bad loans banks have been facing would be solved shortly. “I regret not seeing the end of the NPA (non-performing asset) story,” she says.
In an interview published in the Times of India on Monday, Bhattacharya, who served at the helm of SBI
for four years, spoke on a range of issues – from NPAs to her winning mantra and her experiences as the first woman head of SBI.
Here are the highlights of her interview:
The most eventful year
Bhattacharya said the last year of her job as the SBI
chief was the most eventful, thanks to several events that came in quick succession – demonetisation, merger (with associate banks) and GST. “We had to make rules as we went along and had to lay out the roadway as we progressed,” she said.
The winning mantra
Bhattacharya said she believed a person should be action-oriented rather than merely thought-oriented. That helps one cope with stress. For her, putting the right person in the right place is half the battle won. She said: “Stress is imagining the worst, but if you are acting on what needs to be done, imagination takes the back seat.”
How to say no
Bhattacharya believes that the manner in which we respond to an irrational logic should be constructive solution rather than destructive approach. “That’s the best way to help people understand your case.”
Attributes that make a leader
The former chief said the foremost quality required to be a leader is good communication. “You also need to tell your requirement to as many people as possible so that you can build up opinion,” she said. Bhattacharya added, as a public-sector bank CEO, “you need to be very tactful. You need to get the best out of a situation with very limited resources”.
The most satisfying part of the job
For Bhattacharya, getting the chairman’s job was the most fulfilling part of her journey. She said being the chairman helped her interact with many people across different strata of the social ladder.
The only regret
Bhattacharya said her only regret was that she could not see the end of the NPA story. She believes the bad loan problem would be solved shortly.
She said she was yet to take a call on her future plans but one thing that she always wanted was to pursue a PhD.