Six Indians, including State Bank of India chairman Arundhati Bhattacharyya and Biocon founder Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, figure in the Forbes’s 2015 list of Asia’s 50 Power Businesswomen showcasing a year of accomplishments by the region’s female entrepreneurs and executives.
Punctuated by the Midas touch of China’s Alibaba, the list also includes two rapidly growing economies.
To make the list, candidates have to be active in the upper echelons of the business world in Asia, wield significant power and have access to robust financial resources, according to Forbes.
Apart from Bhattacharya and Shaw, other Indians in the list are: Akhila Srinivasan, managing director of Shriram Life Insurance/Shriram Capital; Chanda Kochhar, managing director and CEO of ICICI Bank; Shika Sharma, managing director and CEO of Axis Bank; and Usha Sangwan, managing director of Life Insurance Corporation of India.
According to Forbes, Bhattacharya, 58, referred to as the first lady of Indian banking, chairs State Bank of India, “a behemoth with 225 million customers and assets of $300 billion”.
“Bhattacharya offers employees at SBI the option of a 2-year sabbatical to take care of children and parents.”
As for Shaw, 61, it said “India’s biotech queen built Biocon from a garage startup into India’s largest publicly traded biopharma firm, with $480 million in sales, mostly in low-cost drugs for diseases such as diabetes and cancer”.
It also mentioned that Shaw sits on the board of IT giant Infosys and chairs the board of governors of the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore.
On Srinivasan, Forbes said she “catapulted Shriram Life Insurance into one of the top five private players in its industry in India in terms of profitability”.
“It went on a hiring spree last year, increasing the number of employees to 9,000 from 5,500. Total premiums collected have surged almost 17-fold in seven years to $695 million,” it stated.
Describing Kochhar, 53, as India’s second-most-powerful banker (after Arundhati Bhattacharya), Forbes said she has been boss of ICICI, the country’s biggest lender in the private sector, with assets of $100 billion, for six years.
“She has overseen a retail expansion into the rural heartland; more than 10 percent of ICICI’s 3,850 branches are in previously unbanked areas. Kochhar is now aiming at capturing younger customers with Pockets, a mobile and online service,” the magazine noted.
As for Axis Bank head Shikha Sharma, 56, it said she has been credited with giving the bank a retail focus, digitising transactions and expanding the network.
“Under her command the bank’s total deposits have grown to $46 billion as of December 31. Net profit crossed the $1 billion-mark for the first time in the year ended last March,” her profile read.
Usha Sangwan, Forbes said, made history two years ago when she became the first woman to occupy the post of managing director of LIC.
“She joined LIC in 1981 as a direct-recruit officer and worked her way up,” it said about the 56-year-old achiever.
In this year’s list, China’s Alibaba made history by becoming the first company to have to have two of its decision-makers making the grade: Maggie Wu, the online giant’s chief financial officer, and Lucy Peng, Alibaba’s co-founder.
For the first time, women from emerging economies Mongolia and Myanmar made it to the list.
While Garamjav Tseden is the founder and chairman of Mongolian mining company Monpolymet, Myanmar’s Win Win Tint “took the family grocery store and created a retail giant that spans supermarkets, convenience stores, pharmacies, book stores and more”.
The list also includes women achievers from Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia and Australia.