I joined SIB amid Covid with a mandate to transform the bank. It had two serious issues – low capital adequacy and low provision coverage ratio. With the onset of Covid and in the absence of not knowing how long the economy would suffer, I was looking at the prospect of serious slippages.

From that situation we have come a long way. I was fortunate to work under the best leadership at ICICI Bank, GE Transport Financial Services and SRF Finance. These experiences honed my leadership skills and helped set high standards on quality and processes. Over the years, here are a few things I hold utmost in my career as a banker.

The key is being consistent over the long run in not only building a high-quality portfolio, which gives consistent profits, but also ensuring that the quality holds up adverse cycles.

Industry cycle, business model, marketing prowess of the counterparty, financial strength with focus on sales, operational profit, profit before tax, leverage ratios such as D/E, TOL/TNW, cash flow analysis, efficient working of capital management, and finally structuring the transaction is very important.

Monitoring the portfolio is equally important while making the decisions on grow, hold or exit.

Human capital is the most important asset for any institution and more so for banks like us. Any transformation project will be successful only with the support of its employees.

All the initiatives in identifying core values, massive reorganization of workforce in both assets and liabilities, transparent performance management processes, introduction of e-learning to upskill career and soft skills, imbibing quality mindset and technology changes, and aligning completely with the objective of the organization to justify ‘One Team, One dream’ are critical.

We owe our success so far to the 9,000-plus employees spread across over 920 branches and offices. We had town halls involving the entire workforce on a monthly basis so that the alignment happens and employees treat each other with respect.

We look upon our regulators not only as a coach to constantly guide us through their policies on responsible banking, but also as facilitators to ensure we serve the society at large and all our stakeholders with a desirable service standard.

As the head of the organization, I believe in engaging in open, transparent and proactive communication with the regulators and with our other stakeholders such as investors and employees.

My family comes first. Therefore, I believe in good work-life balance. I have developed interest in maintaining good health through regular exercise and yoga.

I am also interested in music, sports, travel and reading books. I am a great believer in investing in ‘self’, therefore, I immerse in listening to motivational and spiritual discourses and widely sharing the learnings with my family and friends.

Murali Ramakrishnan is the MD and CEO of South Indian Bank

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