Anshula Kant: A Women Empowerer
In a socially conservative country like India, it is not easy for women to pursue their passion and reach the apex. The culturally rich country gracefully burdens its women with numerous constraints in the name of discipline, which is applicable only for the girls. But, there are few women who break the stereotype either with their will power or with the help of a supportive family. Today, let us meet one such strong spirited woman who perfectly fits into the later category, followed her heart's desire and went on to be the first woman to lead the World Bank as its CFO & MD, Anshula Kant.
Anshula was born on 7 September 1960 in Roorkee. Her father gave her a choice to become an engineer, as her hometown was the best place to pursue engineering. The Roorkee born chose to pursue her passion over her father's advice and took up Economics. Anshula completed her UG & PG in Lady Shri Ram College, New Delhi, and Delhi School of Economics, respectively. After which, she initiated her career with SBI as a probationary officer in 1983. Past seven years, she became a Certified Associate of the Indian Institute of Banker. Anshula's dedication towards her work elevated her through several ranks, where she had served as the Chief General Manager of the bank in Maharashtra and Goa and then became the CEO of SBI, Singapore, and later went on to become the Managing Director of SBI. She was the reason behind the launch of retail operations, which brought SBI the status of the first Indian bank to do so in that region.
In a career spanning over three and a half decades, she possesses a rich experience in retails banking, cross-border trade, corporate credit, and banking in development markets. She has also handled stressed assets, risk, and compliance functions of the bank directly. As the CFO of SBI, Anshula has managed $38 billion of revenues and a total asset of $500 billion. Under her administration, the bank's capital has tremendously improved, and also she has mainly concentrated on the bank's enduring sustainability. Additionally, the State Bank of India has witnessed an elevation in its asset quality as the gross non-performing assets had come down to 7.53 percent of gross advances by the end of March 2019, which was 10.91 percent in March 2018. Moreover, her work during the demonetization phase was commendable when people bombarded the banks for change and new notes issues.
Anshula broke several myths in this men-dominated world. In her initial days at work, she was told that apart from part1 and part2 banking exam there was part3, which was to please the bosses and managing the unions to handle the transfers and promotions issues. However, she considers this as a myth. Also, many Indian women give up on their career after their marriage and pregnancy because of their new added responsibilities. But Anshula, was determined to continue her career, with the support of her husband and in-laws. Married to a Varanasi-based Chattered Accountant, at one point of time, she had decided to put down her papers when she was transferred to Lucknow. But, with her family's encouragement and SBI residential colony support, she continued her blooming journey. Considering all the issues she faced as a woman, Anshula decided to make it easy for other women to grow in their careers.
In 2017, when Anshula was serving as CFO & Deputy Managing Director, SBI had about 46,000 women employees, which was 22 percent of the bank's labor force. Generally, the work environment has been customized to fit men's preferences, from the chairs to the room temperature. Anshula brought in several changes in the employee policies such as leave eligibility, and other constraints to support women to continue their career. In January 2014, SBI had granted two years of sabbatical leave from work for women employees to meet their personal needs, such as children's education, taking care of elders, and other responsibilities that are usually fulfilled by women in the house.
Also, under her tenure, in May 2017, SBI also permitted 'work from home' option to its employees, and this would be extended for more than a year for women employees. But, this work from home option is available for all the work, except for jobs such as customer-handling that could be taken care of from the banks alone. Furthermore, to avoid the husband's job posting affecting woman's career, the bank also came up with the scheme to provide transfer to married women employees to their preferred location.
Apart from a successful career, Anshula is also blessed with a beautiful family and two children, her son, Siddharth, who is settled in New York and daughter Nupur is based in Switzerland. Despite the satisfying life, one thing that disappoints Anshula the most is after a long day's work returning to an empty home with no one to talk to.
Having exceptionally managing the country's largest government bank, and making strong economy decisions and implementing several employees benefit policies, Anshula is all set to rewrite the history in her new role at the World Bank.