The board of directors of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved the appointment of Lakshmi Venkatachalam from India as vice-president (private sector and co-financing operations) for a three-year term. With her, ADB will have five vice-presidents.
Under its long-term Strategy 2020 framework, ADB plans to scale up private sector operations and co-financing partnerships.
Venkatachalam has 32 years of experience in senior management, including being the principal secretary to the government of Karnataka, overseeing the departments of commerce and industry; urban development; planning, programme implementation; and economics and statistics.
Born on September 25, 1953, she joined government service in July 1978 and served in various departments. She holds an MA in Economics and a Masters in Business Administration from Boston University.
She took over as chairperson of the Coffee Board in 2000 and served till 2005. She is credited with taking Indian coffee to the global platform. During her tenure, she organised the first India International Coffee Festival in 2002, which is now held every two years. She brought the domestic and international coffee community together and showcased India’s strength on the world platform.
Welcoming her appointment at ADB, Karnataka Planters’ Association President K M Nanaiah said: “She was a superlative administrator of Coffee Board and streamlined its administration. With her focused approach to the problems of small and medium coffee growers as well as corporates, she took a lot of initiatives to raise the standards of Indian coffee and build its brand image globally.”
She represented India at the International Coffee Organisation, London, and chaired its council in 2001-2002. Her other major achievements at the Coffee Board include organising Flavour of India Fine Cup Award competition, which identifies the best coffee variety.
Employees of the Coffee Board hailed her as a dynamic administrator. “She created a wonderful work atmosphere for employees from top to bottom. She was approachable for each and everyone. We are very happy for her posting,” they said.
In addition to her current position as director general of shipping and ex-officio additional secretary to Government of India, her recent posts also include commissioner, Bangalore Development Authority, and managing director of the State Cooperative Marketing Federation, Karnataka, as also director in the Ministry of Steel, Government of India.
Her batchmates at the Indian Administrative Service admire her for friendly personality and consider as capable for any challenging task.
Kaushik Mukherjee, chairman and managing director of Karnataka State Finance Corporation, said, “Lakshmi is a no-nonsense officer. She has a lot of experience in dealing with challenging jobs. Her experience in many smaller parts of Karnataka will definitely help her in handling any critical task. She fully deserves the posting at ADB and she can do wonders in her new job.”
K M Shivakumar, secretary, Department of Home, Karnataka, said, “She is an extremely nice human being. She is capable for the post at ADB. I am quite sure she will do well in that job.”
Venkatachalam’s other batchmates at IAS include Aravind Jadhav, CMD, Air India; K N Srivastav, additional secretary and finance advisor, Ministry of External Affairs; K Jothiramalingam, principal secretary, Department of Tourism, Karnataka; and V Madhu, principal secretary, infrastructure, Karnataka.