Born and raised in Karnal in Haryana, Charu Sachdeva Mathur’s life was ensconced within the town in a family that encouraged academics and competition.
“As a leader if you don’t believe in the immense possibilities that the future may hold for an organization, you can’t create a vision and share a purpose with your team,” she says.
Speaking with YourStory in the latest episode of Season 2 of the ‘HER Leadership’ interview seriesCharu talks about the importance of being optimistic and futuristic.
Powered by AWS, the conversation was driven by Chandra Balani, Head Global Enterprise India & Lead – ID&E initiatives, India, AISPL. The ‘HER Leadership’ interview series captures stories of struggles and success of the country’s most successful and prominent enterprise business leaders, and hopes to become a platform that inspires more women to join the workforce and move up the leadership ladder.
Charu has always been a part of the debate and declamation teams in her schooling years. “My father pushed me to think big in life, and to go for much more than I could imagine,” she remembers fondly. She also attempted the IIT examination, and even though she couldn’t crack it, her desire to learn more only grew further.
A self-confessed tech enthusiast with keen interest in electronic design automation, Charu started her career as a semiconductor engineer. “During my early years, I worked extensively in Taiwan. There was a language barrier, and a pressure to prove your design automation software to various clients. It was a tough period,” Charu remembers, highlighting how those challenging stints contributed significantly to her growth as an engineer.
It was her husband, Rohan Mathur, who encouraged her to get into the management side of things after which she pursued an MBA from IIM Ahmedabad. She worked for the Boston Consulting Group prior to joining IndusInd Bank.
Achievements and hardships
Currently as Head – Digital Banking at IndusInd Bank, Charu is responsible for building new business models and setting up new digital first and digital only business lines from scratch for Retail Individual and SME client segments; while also driving several new projects and initiatives for the bank in its role as Head-Business Strategy.
With many successes to her credit, the one that’s very special for Charu is setting up the bank’s wealth management arm, Pioneer. As foreign banks vacated this space in the country, the high net worth individuals were left in the lurch by private banks not being able to serve them efficiently.
Seizing this opportunity for a midsize bank to cater to the unique needs of affluent clients, Charu created an entirely new brand philosophy for IndusInd Bank. “If you have to change the DNA of a businessthere are at least 15 to 20 different functions which have to rally up, so you have to align stakeholders and take them along with you to get them to be a part of the larger vision,” she shares.
Integrity is at the core of Charu’s leadership style. Always leading from the front, she believes that a leader should always stand by the team, regardless of the outcome of any project. She also believes in dealing with challenges upfront and in an agile manner. Having the courage and conviction to try new and risky things is another important skill that Charu practices in her leadership methodology.
Being a woman at the top of her game, Charu feels that aspects fostering gender disparity should be solved together, as a community. “We need to have a little more flexibility in our policies, flexible working hours, people taking short-term breaks, even stuff like not really scorning at a longer paternity leave as a concept,” she explains.
A firm believer in serving the needs of the customer, Charu feels the onus is on banks to provide products and services that can solve the day to day management of finances.
Even after a considerable digitization initiative taken by the banks, the process is still not friction-free. There is a need to build products that are human-centered, which are built with great empathy for consumers, and can help solve the latent needs of the consumer. “It’s not about the best user interface you can design, the technology really needs to work at all times, it has to be highly available, highly scalable, and also a highly secure environment for consumers, where they feel that their data is protected and nothing will be breached,” says Charu.
Risk analytics and retail asset analytics is another area which looks to have a promising future. Under Charu’s leadership, IndusInd Bank is looking to cast a wider net and offer financial products to customers intelligently within the risk prudence framework of the organization.
Another important goal that she is working towards is getting talent on technology. In the process of creating an entire ‘Centre of Excellence’, IndusInd Bank is trying to attract good quality talent and create an open culture. “[At IndusInd, we are building a culture] Where failures are not scorned at and some failures are even welcome, because trying is more important than really being successful every time,” sums up Charu.
A true optimist at heart, Charu Sachdeva Mathur is hopeful for a better future not just for the banking sector, but also for its customers.