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  Age on Sunday   03 Aug 2019  Banking on success

Banking on success

THE ASIAN AGE. | FALAKNAAZ SYED
Published : Aug 4, 2019, 12:01 am IST
Updated : Aug 4, 2019, 12:14 am IST

Anshula Kant has also been instrumental in cleaning the balance sheet of SBI which had a high proportion of bad loans as the economy slowed down.

Anshula Kant
 Anshula Kant

After holding high offices for over three decades in the State Bank of India, 59-year-old Anshula Kant has been appointed as MD and the first ever woman CFO of the World Bank.

Women empowerment seems to be the theme of today’s banking world, and India stands out, thanks to the representation of women in the chief positions of the country’s top lenders.

But 59-year-old Anshula Kant has taken things to another level altogether after she was named Managing Director and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the World Bank, making her the first woman CFO of the international body. Currently Managing Director (Stressed Assets, Risk and Compliance) at India’s largest lender, State Bank of India (SBI), Kant needs no introduction.

At SBI, Kant’s decisions affect India’s big and small companies and thereby, the economy apart from impacting the bank’s capital position and profitability. But going forward, her new role at the World Bank will put her at the forefront of several thorny challenges facing countries around the world. The World Bank, as a multilateral organisation, clearly has the international scale and influence and the political complexity that comes with having 189 member countries.

And clearly, Kant’s rich experience in banking makes her the best candidate for the post at the World Bank. Among other key management duties, her work will include oversight of financial reporting, risk management, and working closely with the World Bank CEO on mobilisation of International Development Association (IDA) of WB and other financial resources reporting to the President.

“I am very pleased to appoint Anshula Kant as World Bank Group Managing Director and CFO. Anshula brings more than 35 years of expertise in finance, banking and innovative use of technology through her work as CFO of The State Bank of India,” said David Malpass, World Bank President, adding, “She’s excelled at a diverse array of leadership challenges including risk, treasury, funding, regulatory compliance and operations. I look forward to welcoming her to our management team as we work to increase our effectiveness in supporting good development outcomes.”

“The date of joining World Bank is not final,” Kant says, but sources believe she would join in a month’s time after SBI posts its first quarter earnings in the first week of August.

Three decades with SBI
With a career spanning 36 years in SBI, Kant has donned many hats. She joined SBI in 1983 as a probationary officer and gradually inched her way to becoming the bank’s MD and Member of the bank’s Board on September 7, 2018.

As MD, Kant handled stressed assets, risk and compliance, leading the creation of investment opportunities while empowering risk management throughout the bank. Prior to this role, she was designated as the Deputy Managing Director (DMD) in May 2015 and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) in June 2015, managing $38 billion of revenues and total assets of $500 billion, greatly improving the capital base while focusing on the long-term sustainability of SBI within her mandate.

It was her fine skills that helped stitch the merger of SBI with five associate banks (State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, State Bank of Hyderabad, State Bank of Mysore, State Bank of Patiala and State Bank of Travancore) and the Bharatiya Mahila Bank, catapulting the country’s largest lender to be among the top 50 banks in the world with a balance sheet of Rs 35-lakh-crore.

She has also held several other key assignments in SBI, including Chief General Manager (CGM) of Mumbai Circle (Maharashtra & Goa) and CEO at SBI Singapore where she was responsible for launching the retail operations, making SBI the first Indian bank to do so in that geographical location.

Kant has also been instrumental in cleaning the balance sheet of SBI which had a high proportion of bad loans as the economy slowed down. Compared to a high proportion of impaired assets some years ago, SBI’s balance sheet is much cleaner now as it seems in control of the ‘demon’ of soured loans.

“A very dedicated and hard working individual. A quick learner and a great team leader,” says Arundhati Bhattacharya, former Chairman at SBI about Kant.

Dinesh Khara, MD (associates and subsidiaries) at SBI says, “Anshula is very articulate and has a keen eye for details.”

V.G. Kannan, Chief Executive Officer at Indian Banks Association and former Managing Director at SBI, adds, “I know Anshula as a very professional, focused and articulate person who is very dedicated to the organisation (SBI).”

Education and family life
Kant, who hails from Roorkee, wanted to get to bigger towns and aspired to have a career in academics. Her first love was economics when the subject was not much of a rage in the country. She graduated in Economics Honours from Lady Shri Ram College for Women and then pursued a post-graduation in Economics from the Delhi School of Economics. She is also a Certified Associate of the Indian Institute of Bankers. While these degrees could have landed her any job she wanted, Kant is happy that she chose to work with the country’s biggest bank.

The Roorkee girl then went on to marry Sanjay Kant, a chartered accountant from Varanasi on January 18, 1984, Uttar Pradesh and moved to the pilgrim town.

Unlike many working women who worry about leaving their children with maids and servants, Kant was blessed with in-laws who would care for her children as she focused on her job. “I was a free bird at work. My in-laws supported me so much that I never had to worry about my two children. They literally grew up with them,” Kant once said in an interview.

But as fate would have had it, everything appeared to come crashing down for Kant when she was handed a transfer to Lucknow. However, her family support system and the SBI’s residential colonies made it possible for her to pursue her career as well as look after her children.

But more than that, what gave her the impetus was the fact that working for a state-owned undertaking was not as bad as people made it out to be. Kant has a son, Siddharth, and a daughter, Nupur, who are settled in New York and Singapore respectively.

Apart from her back-breaking bank work, Kant takes time out to listen to Hindustani classical music, catch a good movie or attend a Hindustani music concert if she can.

It certainly hasn’t been easy for Kant all these years since she has spent a lot of time away from her family. But looking at the brighter side, maybe her job at the World Bank would make up for lost time as she would now be closer to her son in the US.

Tags: anshula kant, world bank