Senior Vice President and Head - Affluent Business, Axis Bank
GOAL IN LIFE: Constantly innovate and leave my footprint. I like bigger challenges.
BEST LEADERSHIP LESSON: A true leader is someone who drives his followers.
When Satheesh Krishnamurthy was asked by an interviewer at Citibank why he should be hired, he replied: "Anyone who has hired me has gone on to become a CEO."
Krishnamurthy was not joking. He cited the example of the Nestle executive who had picked him up for summer training and had later become the CEO for West Asia at the Swiss food company. Krishnamurthy, of course, got the Citibank job. And within a month, Deepak Chandani, one of those who had interviewed him at Citibank, left to become the CEO of Yahoo India. Praveen Kutty, who also interviewed him at Citibank, still reminds Krishnamurthy the story whenever they meet. Kutty is now the retail banking head of private-sector lender Development Credit Bank.
Krishnamurthy honed his skills at Citibank. In 2006, he became the southern business head for credit cards. During this tenure, he helped propel the southern region's average spending per card to more than twice the industry average. This outstanding performance made him stand out, and two years later he was selected as one of 10 executives from 100 countries to work in Citigroup's New York headquarters as part of a global talent development programme. A year later, he was made sales and distribution director for credit cards at Citibank, a position he retained for close to three years. The next break in Citi came when he was made Senior Vice President of a team that handled clients with net worth between $5 million and $25 million.
What brought him to Axis Bank? "The huge opportunity in the affluent segment and a bank with much larger footprint to exploit it," he says. Krishnamurthy says the bank has come out with many new products and services for wealthy clients. He is also strengthening the network of relationship managers. "We have a few hundred relationship managers and we would like to double their number. There is a 70 per cent jump in productivity of relationship managers. Revenue is growing 35 per cent for this segment," he says.
Axis's affluent segment manages assets worth around $5 billion, and Krishnamurthy aims to grow them further. "You need divine blessing in every pursuit," he says.