Women in finance: 5 women who made a mark in the world of finance and investments

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The world of finance is highly dynamic. Over the centuries gone by, finance has constantly and consistently kept pace with society. Any changes in the things people needed or the beliefs people held has almost instantly been reflected in how the world of finance reacts. When physical money became cumbersome and remote purchases became the need of the hour, digital finance stepped in to fill that gap. When frauds started to occur frequently, the world of finance responded with stricter encryption methods.

Given this, it’s no surprise then that as gender roles evolved, the financial sector welcomed more women investors and entrepreneurs. Women in finance, once a rare species, have now increased in number. Today, there are many women - across generations - whom we can all look up to for their stellar contributions to this ever-changing field.

If you’re looking for some inspiration today, you’ll undoubtedly find it uplifting to learn more about the contributions of women in finance. So, take a look at 5 such women who made a mark and transformed finance and investments for the better.

Chitra Ramkrishna

 

Source: Forbesindia

Chartered accountant Chitra Ramkrishna is perhaps the first in the long line of women who have made an indelible mark in the modern world of finance as we know it today. She was a part of the handpicked team tasked with the job of setting up the National Stock Exchange from scratch!

Ramkrishna was also involved in drafting the legislative framework of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) in the late 1980s. Take a look at some of her key achievements.

  • She was instrumental in setting up a pan-India VSAT network and in building the legislative framework for India's first depositor. 
  • She facilitated screen-based trading in the NSE. This has helped provide trading access to retail investors all over the country. 
  • Under her leadership, the NSE launched many products like futures and options, and exchange traded funds.

Archana Bhargava

 

Source: Hindustan Times

Archana Bhargava is another name that has made a mark in the country’s banking and finance industry. Her journey began at Punjab National Bank. Over three decades later, Bhargava transitioned to Canara Bank, taking on the post of an Executive Director in 2011.

In 2013, she moved from one strength to another, when she was appointed as the MD and CEO of United Bank of India. People who followed the news around that time will recall that the United Bank of India was struggling with a rising number of non-performing assets.

Taking cognizance of how this was crippling the bank’s further growth, Bhargava dedicated a major part of career to turning the bank’s business around. It’s no wonder then that Archana Bhargava is often referred to as the Indian banking industry’s turnaround woman.

 

Shyamala Gopinath

 

Source: Centralbanking.com

Shyamala Gopinath had a stellar career in the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). She joined the central bank as an officer in 1972, and went on to become the Deputy Governor of the central bank in 2004 -  a position she held till 2011. But it’s not just her notable position in the RBI that puts Gopinath on this list.

Her legacy is much bigger. She was extremely skilled at liquidity management and regulation. These skills came in handy when she handled several crises over the course of her career, including:

  • The Kargil conflict of 1999
  • The India Millennium Bond redemption in 2000
  • The bankruptcy of Lehman brothers in 2008

In addition to the above achievements, Gopinath was also actively involved in handling the balance of payments crisis that the country faced in 1991. She also notably recommended that the returns from small saving schemes be made market-linked.

Arundhati Bhattacharya

 

Source: Business Today

Arundhati Bhattachary is most famously known for her role as the Chairperson of the State Bank of India. Interestingly, she was the youngest woman - and the first - to hold the position of the Chairperson in SBI’s 210-year old history. Her achievements during her time at the State Bank of India are not merely limited to financial successes. She is also famous for having introduced a number of women-centric initiatives in the bank.

Here are just a few of Bhattachary’s many achievements.

  • She has been a part of the launch of SBI General Insurance, SBI Pension Funds Pvt. Ltd., SBI Custodial Services, and the SBI Macquarie Infrastructure Fund.
  • She put together a two-year sabbatical leave policy for the bank's women employees. This could be used for maternity leave or for care of the elderly. 
  • She also introduced a program for free vaccination against cervical cancer to benefit all the female employees at SBI.

Ranjana Kumar

 

Source: India Alternatives

Vigilance Commissioner in Central Vigilance Commission, Chairperson of National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), Chairperson and MD of the Indian Bank - Ranjana Kumar has many titles to her name. And yet, her humble beginnings can be traced back to the position of a probationary officer in the Bank of India.

Notably, Kumar is renowned for turning around Indian Bank’s business, given that the public sector bank was facing huge losses when she joined the bank as MD and Chairperson. She was also the first woman to hold these positions in a public sector bank in India.

Wrapping up

In addition to these leading women in finance, the number of women investors and entrepreneurs in the country are also on the rise. This includes working women and homemakers as well. To find out more about how India’s homemakers have evolved over the years, check out the next chapter.

A quick recap

  • Chartered accountant Chitra Ramkrishna was a part of the handpicked team tasked with the job of setting up the National Stock Exchange from scratch!
  • Archana Bhargava, often referred to as the Indian banking industry’s turnaround woman, dedicated a major part of career to turning the business of United Bank of India around.
  • Shyamala Gopinath had a stellar career in the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). She joined the central bank as an officer in 1972, and went on to become the Deputy Governor of the central bank in 2004 -  a position she held till 2011. 
  • Arundhati Bhattachary is most famously known for her role as the Chairperson of the State Bank of India. 
  • Ranjana Kumar, Vigilance Commissioner in Central Vigilance Commission, Chairperson of National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), Chairperson and MD of the Indian Bank, is renowned for turning around Indian Bank’s business.

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FAQ'S

There are many ways to do this. You could pursue commerce streams of higher education and become a professional in the field, like a chartered accountant or a company secretary. You could obtain a master’s degree in finance or related fields and kickstart a career in the private banking sector. Or, you could join the banking industry as an officer and work your way up from there. These are only some of the many ways to establish a career in the finance and banking sector.
Screen-based trading is a kind of trading in a market or exchange, using the visual display unit of a computer to track market movements as opposed to in-person trading that occurred in floor trading. The NSE was the first exchange to introduce this practice, thanks to the visionary leadership of Chitra Ramkrishna.
When a bank is burdened by NPAs or non-performing assets, it becomes unprofitable. Turning the business around could involve writing off these NPAs or recovering them.
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