HDFC Bank Managing Director Aditya Puri fondly recollected memories of how he created India's biggest private bank at his last AGM (annual general meeting) held on Saturday.
Puri, who is set to retire in October this year, when he turns 70 reminisced about the days when "a bunch of us so-called kids who had grown up in middle-class backgrounds sharing a coke and wearing Bata shoes" came together to start the bank 25 years ago.
The banker is the longest-serving chief of any commercial bank in India. Under his watch, HDFC Bank catapulted to become the largest private sector bank by assets size, apart from being the most valued too.
Puri further stated that while many other executives were enjoying their cushy jobs in foreign companies at that time, he had a passion to create a world-class Indian bank.
He remembered when he was hiring people "from the broken office in Sandoz House", he told interviewees that if they "want to join the best bank in the world, come and join us".
Puri recalled that when he wanted to start the bank, he did not have enough money, and went on to open the office at Kamala Mills in Mumbai.
Sharing how the office was a complete mess, he enunciated, "we came back in the morning, the computers would not work as the damn rats had eaten up the cables." He recollected that this led to a situation where "initially we used to have our training centres under the trees."
"Thank god we took the decision and we are where we are (today)," he said on the decision to open the bank.
Dismissing rumours about an exodus of senior executives ahead of his exit, Puri clarified that some of them are taking temporary break as a stopgap arrangement to either pursue further studies or for personal reasons.
He further acknowledged that the bank's internal inquiry into its vehicle financing business did conclude personal misconduct by some employees for which appropriate action has been initiated.
Puri has emerged as the highest-paid banker among the top lenders for FY 2019-20, with a 38 per cent jump in his salary and prerequisites to Rs 18.92 crore. He earned an additional Rs 161.56 crore by exercising stock options during the year, HDFC Bank's annual report said.