Arundhati Bhattacharya, who retired as the Chairman of SBI last week says that she cracked the SBI PO exam 36 years ago by giving mental maths training to two young girls. In an interview to CNBC TV18, Arundhati Bhattacharya said, “I used to tutor two young girls who were total duds in Maths. I used to give them half an hour of mental maths a day, which in turn prepared me for the exam.” The first women to have served as the Chairman of India’s largest bank- State Bank of India had joined the company as a probationary officer, more than 35 years ago.
In the same interview, Arundhati Bhattacharya revealed that she chose banking over IAS as the salary offered to a Bank PO exceeded that of an IAS officer by Rs 100-200, back then. “In those days, banking paid Rs 100-200 more from IAS. In IAS you need to know one subject till postgraduate, and that subject cannot be a language. Because, I did English, I had a handicap as long as IAS was concerned,” Arundhati Bhattacharya told the channel.
Further, she explains that banking is one of the few areas which did not need any industry clout. “Nobody in my family was a banker. I became a banker because, at that time there were a very few jobs which you could get without knowing somebody,” she said in the same conversation. “I knew nobody, I was in a hostel, a few of us got together and decided that we would crack this exam. In those days there were no guides or coaching classes,” she says adding, “All that we studied was from the competition master.”
Listed as 25th most powerful women in the world by Forbes magazine in 2016, Arundhati Bhattacharya held several positions during her 36-year long career with State Bank of India including working in foreign exchange, treasury, retail operations, human resources and investment banking.
As the 24th chairman of India’s largest lender Arundhati Bhattacharya expressed that it’s been a matter of “great pride” to lead such an organisation an opportunity which comes very rarely. When asked if she saw herself heading the organisation, she said last week, “At the staff college in Hyderabad, you get to hear how the chairmen were at one point probationary officers. But at that point you do not think of something that is so far away. There was no fast-tracking. I went up the regular way. I was AGM for eight years because the numbers were such that I never got called for promotion.”