Perspectives from ISB

With Women’s Day approaching, the Indian School of Business hosted a fireside chat titled “Breaking the Ceiling, Banking on Progress”. This event was a nod towards recognising the hurdles women face in the corporate world, highlighting the interplay between government and business in advancing gender equality in the corporate realm. The event’s spotlight was on A. Manimekhalai, the Managing Director and CEO of Union Bank of India, whose journey to the pinnacle of corporate leadership serves as a beacon of inspiration for many.

A Journey Defined by Merit

Moderated by Professor Anjal Prakash, the conversation delved into Manimekhalai’s experiences as she ascended the corporate ladder. She shared an empowering message, attributing her success not to gender but to hard work and the ability to deliver results. This perspective challenges the narrative around gender-specific barriers, emphasising that corporate world progress is achievable through performance and determination.

The Glass Ceiling within

Manimekhalai also addressed the metaphorical glass ceiling, suggesting it’s an internal barrier rather than an external one. Her advice to aspiring professionals is to break through self-imposed limitations, which promotes self-empowerment and encourages women to confidently pursue their ambitions.

Strategic Collaboration with Fintech Startups

A key moment of the discussion arose from a student’s inquiry about Union Bank’s response to the fintech revolution. Manimekhalai highlighted a strategy of collaboration over competition, acknowledging the scalability challenges startups face, and the potential for mutual growth by addressing consumer needs together. This approach signifies a shift towards more adaptive and cooperative business models in the banking sector.

A Strategy for Success

An impressive 61% increase in net profits in FY23 was attributed to a focused approach to optimising revenue and managing costs. Manimekhalai’s strategy underscores the importance of financial discipline and highlights her leadership in navigating the bank towards significant growth.

The fireside chat with Manimekhalai offered invaluable insights into overcoming gender barriers, hard work’s importance, and strategic collaboration’s power. As we move closer to gender equality, her story inspires aspiring leaders to break their own ceilings and pave the way for progress.

Organised by the offices of External Relations and Alumni Engagement, ‘Meet with a LeadHer’ is a series of interactive lunch/coffee meets where a woman leader shares perspectives on their journey and achievements with the ISB community.

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