Osmania University alumnus was 1st top banker in India
Hyderabad: Women are at the helm of affairs in some of the country’s leading public sector and private banks at present.Arundhati Bhattacharya (SBI and associate banks), Chanda Kocchar (ICICI), Shikha Sharma (Axis Bank), Usha Ananthasubramanian (Punjab National Bank) are some of the prominent names in the banking sector.
However, the first woman to reach the top post in the banking sector was a Hyderabadi and an alumnus of Osmania University. Ranjana Kumar was appointed chairperson and managing director of Indian Bank in 2000.
The state-owned institution, headquartered in Chennai, slumped in the 1990s. In 1999, a management advisory group, appointed by Reserve Bank of India noted that Indian Bank’s “accumulated losses exceeded its capital and reserves”. The bank groaned under mountains of bad loans. “The most crucial aspect in turning Indian Bank around”, concluded the advisory group, would be to find the right new boss.
They later picked Ranjana Kumar, who was then working as executive director of the state-owned Canara Bank after a long career at Bank of India. She performed a rescue mission at Indian Bank with her well-planned strategies, and the results were there for everyone to see. From a loss-making entity, Indian Bank became a profitable and successful bank during her three-year tenure.
Ms Ranjana Kumar’s work won her a great reputation in the Indian financial sector and the then government appointed her chairperson of Nabard (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development) in December 2003.
Ms Kumar, now 71, says she owes much of her success to her alma mater, Osmania University. “I did my graduation from Koti Women’s College in 1965. I believe the varsity’s reputation at the national level was the reason that Bank of India offered me the job of probationary officer. I joined in 1966. It was like a campus placement for me,” she recalls.
After putting in 34 years of dedicated service, she reached the zenith in her career. Ms Kumar will be attending the centenary inauguration programme on April 26 and will also be speaking on the role of OU in wo-men’s empowerment and development in an afternoon session to be held at the Tagore Aud-itorium on the same day.
She believes Telangana in general and Osmania University are good places for girls to pursue their higher education. “These days, women, after completing their higher education, are looking to get jobs in diverse fields, moving away from the past trend of jobs like teachers, lecturers or doctors,” she says.
Ms Kumar served as Vigilance Commissioner in the Central Vigilance Commission from 2005 to 2009. She received many awards and accolades during her professional career spread over five decades. She was invited to lecture at the World Bank, Stanford University (California), Wharton School (Philadelphia) as well as IIMs and IITs, among many others, at home.