Business Today

Hard-working Prodigal

Rajiv Bhuva        Print Edition: May 15, 2011

Of the 23 months that Madhu Kannan has spent in India after coming back to head the Bombay Stock Exchange, or BSE, April 2011 has been the most memorable for him. The cricket fanatic managed to catch the World Cup final in Mumbai. "I was seriously missing cricket during my 15 years in New York," says the youngest managing director and chief executive officer of the BSE.

From March 2008 to May 2009, he was managing director of the corporate strategy group of Bank of America-Merrill Lynch in New York. Earlier, at NYSE Euronext, he handled various senior roles, including international listings, global strategy and business development. "Taking charge at the BSE was not easy," says Kannan. He refers to the BSE as a "start-up" and says it has to be transformed into a global corporation. "Managing transition through a fast changing external environment is fascinating," he says. Kannan and his A-team have started innovating on products and pricing.

He has cut the membership fee for the exchange from Rs 1 crore to Rs 10 lakh, launched a mutual fund trading platform and introduced trading on mobile phones. He has also got the BSE to pick up a 15 per cent stake in United Stock Exchange, a player in currency derivatives. Kannan's work leaves him no time for hobbies, and most of his reading happens on flights. The BSE's legacy amazes him, but he points out that though history is to be cherished, one should not be a prisoner of the past. The transformation will take some time. "Culture does not change overnight," says Kannan.

Madhu Kannan
37, CEO, Bombay Stock Exchange
Been there: Named Young Global Leader in 2007 by the World Economic Forum, was Senior Vice President at NYSE Euronext
Done that: From May 2009, the BSE has been on a technology drive
Anecdote: When the BSE launched its mutual funds platform, a senior broker told him he had brought back the glory of the bourse
Fitness: Job leaves him no time


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