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BT Mindrush: Why Rajeev Jain is the ‘champion of champions’

BT Mindrush: Why Rajeev Jain is the ‘champion of champions’

Rajeev Jain, MD, Bajaj Finance, faced his biggest challenge with the Covid-19-induced lockdown forced employees and people to stay at home. How he navigated Bajaj Finance through such tough times is a testament to his leadership skills.

Rajeev Jain, MD, Bajaj Finance Rajeev Jain, MD, Bajaj Finance

Rajeev Jain, MD, Bajaj Finance is the ‘champion of champions’ at this year’s BT Mindrush. Being a Managing Director of the Rs 1.81-lakh crore-company, Jain’s biggest challenge as a CEO probably came when the Covid-19-induced lockdowns forced people and employees to stay at home.

“If you create a crisis, you can’t solve that crisis; but if you didn’t create that crisis, that gives you a far greater moral right to solve that crisis,” told Jain to his senior management teams. The company’s growth journey was in some ways cut short by the raging pandemic waves, but it also showed remarkable resilience.

In the BT-PwC India’s Best CEOs ranking data, Bajaj Finance’s three-year CAGR in total income was calculated at 22.99 per cent, and in profit after tax, 16.73 per cent. This exceptional performance, which includes the first pandemic year, led the four-member jury to confer on Jain the highest honour of ‘Champion of Champions’.

Five months before Covid-19 emerged, board members of the Pune-headquartered Bajaj Finance sat down to give final shape to its five-year strategic plan. The consumer finance company had created a record of sorts by raising capital of $1.2 billion, to fuel its massive growth opportunity. For the past decade and a half, the company’s income, assets under management, and profits have been growing at a staggering compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 30 per cent-plus.

“Given the fast-changing landscape, the natural evolution fundamentally required us to be - come end-to-end digital,” he said. The Covid-19 crisis pushed Jain—and other professional CEOs—harder to think more deeply and broadly about new digital initiatives in the light of behavioural changes amongst consumers. But more on that later.

Jain, who generally starts his day at 7 am, has played a key role in making the company’s zero-interest, consumer durables financing product—now known as ‘Buy now, pay later’—a big hit, so big that it was instantly replicated by competitors, including high street banks. Partly, the experience and wisdom of two stalwarts— the late Rahul Bajaj and ex-Citibanker Nanoo Pamnani—helped the company, but it was Jain’s execution skills, which he honed in multinational firms like GE, American Express and AIG, that drove the product’s strategy. “Once a broader strategy is in place, he rolls up his sleeves to do the job,” says a professional who worked with Jain earlier.

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Published on: Jun 22, 2022, 4:42 PM IST
Posted by: Mohammad Haaris Beg, Jun 22, 2022, 4:37 PM IST