The 6 Most Powerful Business Women in India.

The 6 Most Powerful Business Women in India.


The business world now has a growing number of women who’re leading change and inspiring other women and men with their success stories. We profiled six amazing women from different sectors who have inspired a change, broken traditional male bastions and are currently running successful business in sectors such as banking, media, television, fashion to those as diverse as oil and pharmaceuticals.

Here’s a toast to all six of these women for inspiring and bringing about a change in India.

1. Chanda Kochhar:

The first on our list is Managing Director and CEO of India’s largest private sector bank, Chanda Kochchar. She completed her Masters in management studies from the Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies and started her career with ICICI as a Management trainee in the bank in 1984; at a time when most Indian women did not choose to have careers.

Chanda Kochhar then went on to become the first woman to head ICICI Bank taking over from then Chairman of ICICI – Mr. KV Kamath. She beat fellow ICICI colleagues Shikha Sharma and Vishakha Mulye to the top post. In fact, her ascension as head of ICICI Bank came around the same time as the World financial crisis was looming.

A regular on Forbes and other business publication lists of Most Powerful People, she was also honored with the Padma Bhushan by the Indian Government for her services to the banking sector in 2010.

A mother of two – she’s always efficiently juggled a career and her family life and believes that women can only grow in an organization on the basis of merit and hard work and no other way – Inspiring indeed!

2. Shikha Sharma:
Shikha Sharma is currently CEO of Axis Bank, India’s no 3 bank after the State Bank of India and ICICI Bank. In fact she was one of the top contenders to take over Mr. KV Kamath’s role at ICICI Bank, however Chanda Kochhar tipped her to the post.

This simple unassuming lady who was previously the MD and CEO of ICICI Prudential, the general insurance arm of the ICICI Group quit ICICI in 2009 to take over as CEO of Axis Bank which she says is probably the best opportunity

of her career. And she’s changed the fortunes and way this bank functions from that of a government run bank to a foreign run bank thanks to her experience and business sense. While ICICI shaped her career, she’s been instrumental in shaping Axis bank into what it is today

She’s married to Sanjaya Sharma, her classmate from IIM – Ahmedabad and has two children.

3. Nishi Vasudeva:
The oil industry across the globe, has been one of those traditionally male dominated for the most part. Nishi Vasudeva, who’s currently the Marketing Director of HPCL, is all set to break that male bastion by becoming the first woman ever to head a Navratna PSU when she takes over as Chairman and Managing Director of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation or HPCL at the end of February 2014.

It wasn’t that simple getting there either, considering the short list had seven candidates – all interviewed by the Public Enterprise selection board and then vetted by the Oil Ministry and Oil Minister.

4. Kirthiga Reddy:
Facebook has always been in the news and as the premier social networking site has making news lately for it’s $19 billion acquisition of the messaging service WhatsApp. And, Kirthiga Reddy, Director of Online Operations and Head, Facebook India is the face of Facebook India. The first employee of Facebook in India, this MBA from Stanford University is one of the youngest women heading such a large business and she’s been really successful at it too.

The numbers speak for her – Facebook started operations in India in 2010 with 8 million users and as of December 2013 has around 93 million users in India. A giant leap for sure!

She’s done so well in developing this business that India is now a strategic market for Facebook as defined by their CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. While Reddy’s initial assignment was to build the user base in India her new one is in monetizing Facebook for this user base and getting the advertisers to buy and use it.

5. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw:
She’s recently been named the first woman Chairperson of the prestigious Indian Insititute of Management, Bangalore. And pending clearance of the same by the HRD ministry, this will be the first time a woman would be occupying such a post at any IIM in the country. “It’s a great tribute to the IIMs because it’s the first time that a woman will occupy this post. Kiran is also a great entrepreneur,” former Infosys board member Mohandas Pai said.

The Chairman and Managing Director of Biocon, Kiran Majumdar Shaw is is on the Forbes list of the world’s 100 most powerful women and the Financial Times’ top 50 women in business lists.

She started her company Biocon in the year 1978 and is responsible for turning and transforming it from an enzymes manufacturing company to a fully integrated bio-pharmaceutical company. She’s been awarded with the Padma Shri and the Padma Bhushan from the Indian Government for her efforts and was recently named among TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people in the  world.

6. Anita Dongre:
Anita Dongre started off small by supplying her designs to bigger labels and high fashion labels. She’s responsible for changing her flagship business label AND to become a global name with her marketing strategy of targeting the urban woman.

Anita Dongre and her label AND started with a 300 sq ft shop in Crossroads,Mumbai and has now grown to having approximately 85 stores under her labels.She’s currently got 4 labels that she retails under; AND (western wear), Anita Dongre Timeless, Anita Dongre Inter Pret and Global Desi (Indian fusion wear).

One of the biggest reasons for her success is the strategy she’s followed of positioning her products in such a way that you get designer wear at prices that don’t cost the moon. This bridge to luxury space is for the middle / upper middle class customer who’s on his way up but still cannot afford high end luxury and the increasing working women in the Indian market has been perfect for her to do just that.


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