Deepak Shantilal Parekh is almost as famous a brand as HDFC, the institution that he has helmed for decades. Little surprise, then, that India’s oldest and largest housing finance company won’t let go of him—it recently extended his tenure as Executive Chairman and hopes to convince him to stay on as a Non Executive Chairman the following year. But Parekh’s leadership extends way beyond HDFC. He has steered innumerable high power committees and successfully managed several crises—Satyam being only a recent one. Parekh is known as the man with the Midas touch—his much-publicised restructuring scheme for UTI worked wonders for the once-struggling institution. This is probably why the government decided to call on him to help sort out the Satyam mess.
A chartered accountant, Parekh has been known to have successfully gazed into the crystal ball in the past. In 1978, he surrendered a cushy job in a foreign firm to join his uncle’s fledgling mortgage business HDFC. He told BT recently: “I saw an opportunity and the job was also challenging as there were no housing finance companies then.” Today, the housing major, HDFC, sits on an asset base of close to $20 billion (Rs 1 lakh crore). Parekh allows managers to run their respective divisions independently without any day-to-day interference. He has also been very conscious in building a second line of leadership at the parent HDFC, where he promoted his deputy, 54-year-old Keki Mistry, who has been officiating as Managing Director since 2000 (and Vice-Chairman since 2007).
“His leadership style is very inclusive and empowering. He is accessible to all and also goes out of his way to help people. That’s evident in our Group’s low attrition rate,” says Renu Sud Karnad, Joint Managing Director, HDFC, who has been with the group for the last three decades. The 64-year-old’s biggest contribution is the strong DNA that he has created within the group. He recently told BT: “The youngsters have to tread carefully. They have seen different phases of growth—the high and the low and also the bull and the bear phase. One has to be very prudent when lending and stay away from complex products that they don’t understand.”
Name: Deepak Parekh
Designation: Executive Chairman, HDFC Troubleshooter
2009 Appointed on the Board of the beleaguered Satyam Computer Services to revive the software major
2004 Appointed member of the Investment Commission for facilitating greater FDI inflows
2002 Appointed Chairman of the Expert Committee set up by the Ministry of Power to look into reforms in the power sector
2001 Appointed Chairman of RBI’s Advisory Group on Securities Market Regulation
1999 Chairman of the high-level expert committee for strengthening UTI’s US-64
1998 Member of Narasimhan Committee on banking reforms
1993 Member of Malhotra Committee on insurance reforms