HDFC Bank: Sashidhar Jagdishan to succeed Aditya Puri as CEO

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August 5, 2020 6:30 AM

Jagdishan was recently anointed the bank’s ‘change agent’ in what was seen as a thinly-concealed nod from Aditya Puri to his preferred successor.

The HDFC Bank stock rose 3.8% on Tuesday to close at Rs 1040.20, with investors relieved a successor to Puri has finally been found. The HDFC Bank stock rose 3.8% on Tuesday to close at Rs 1040.20, with investors relieved a successor to Puri has finally been found.

Sashidhar Jagdishan is set to head HDFC Bank after Aditya Puri, managing director and CEO, steps down in late October. Jagdishan, 55, is currently Group Head and Change Agent at the country’s biggest private sector lender and his appointment has been approved by Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

The HDFC Bank stock rose 3.8% on Tuesday to close at Rs 1040.20, with investors relieved a successor to Puri has finally been found. Given the lender is among India’s most valuable companies, it is understandable investors have been hoping for a seamless transition as it would be critical for the bank’s continued growth. Kaizad Bharucha, head of HDFC’s wholesale banking division, and Sunil Garg, of Citibank, were among the other candidates in the reckoning.

Jagdishan was recently anointed the bank’s ‘change agent’ in what was seen as a thinly-concealed nod from Aditya Puri to his preferred successor.

He joined HDFC Bank, one of post-liberalisation India’s newest institutions in 1996, as a manager in the finance function.

He rose to become business head- finance in 1999 and was appointed chief financial officer in 2008. He has led the finance function through turbulent times and the experience will stand him in good stead.

Jagdishan now heads a host of functions — finance, human resources, legal and secretarial, administration, infrastructure, corporate communications and corporate social responsibility. Called Sashi by most at the bank he had not always planned such a trajectory for his career. In typical Indian fashion, he once dreamt of being a world-class cricketer, in the league of a Sunil Gavaskar. Like a large number of Indians, again, he eventually went to college and graduated with a degree in physics. By then, he had reoriented himself for a career in academics. Soon, though, a senior professional he was in awe of convinced him that there was little to gain from going in that direction. Rather, a career in finance had a lot more to offer.

On a muggy Bombay afternoon, having spent the morning in the Fort area figuring out where he could do a CA, he walked into Fergusons near the State Bank of India (SBI) building. He walked up to the senior partner there and told him he wanted to do a CA. “I also told him that I knew nothing about the subject and that if he asked me any questions, I would walk away,” Jagdishan had told FE in 2019.

Sure enough, Fergusons asked him to join them the next day and that marked the turning point in Jagdishan’s life. Along the way, Jagdishan has become a regular at HDFC Bank’s analyst and investor calls — critical terrain for executives at one of the world’s most-valued banks. During the last such call, Puri said, “…the main successors in respect of where the RBI finger points are — have been with me. They understand the business. They were part of the transformation. They were part of the training. The people love them, so there is no issue on who is the successor.” Soon after, he entrusted the analysts’ questions to “my brilliant agent Mr. Jagdishan.”

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