New York — Six Indian women CEOs and Managing Directors, including State Bank of India head Arundhati Bhattacharya and ICICI CEO Chanda Kochchar, have been named by Forbes magazine in its 50 'Power Businesswomen' from Asia who are "knocking down" walls in the traditional male bastions.
The Asia's 50 Power Businesswomen list showcases a year of accomplishments by the region's female entrepreneurs and executives, punctuated by the midas touch of China's Alibaba and newcomers from two rapidly growing economies where women are starting to find a toehold in business, the magazine said.
Included in the list are women CEOs and founders who are active in the upper echelons of the business world in Asia, wield significant power and have access to robust financial resources.
Apart from Bhattacharya and Kochchar, the Indian executives on the list are Akhila Srinivasan, MD/Non-Executive Director of Shriram Life Insurance/Shriram Capital, Biocon Founder, Chairman and MD Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Axis Bank CEO and MD Shikha Sharma and Life Insurance Corp. of India MD Usha Sangwan 56 (India).
Forbes said in less than a decade Srinivasan has catapulted Shriram Life Insurance into one of the top five private players in its industry in India in terms of profitability.
"Srinivasan has been with the USD 13.3 billion assets under management Shriram Group parent of Shriram Life and India's largest financial conglomerate for 29 years," it said, adding that she is the only woman on the board of Shriram Capital, holding company for Shriram Group.
Forbes said Bhattacharya, 58, is referred to as the "first lady of Indian banking" and as chair of the Indian behemoth with 225 million customers and assets of USD 300 billion, the "SBI lifer" has had her hands full addressing bad loans and shoring up the bank s capital.
Forbes noted that Bhattacharya offers employees at SBI the option of a 2-year sabbatical to take care of children and parents.
Kochhar, 53, is India's second-most-powerful banker after Bhattacharya, Forbes said.
Kochhar has been boss of ICICI, the country's biggest lender in the private sector, with assets of USD 100 billion, for 6 years and is now aiming at capturing younger customers with Pockets, a mobile and online service.
Forbes said that Kochhar's drawing power was recently on display at her daughter's wedding in Mumbai, which was attended by billionaires, bankers and politicians, including Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan.
Shaw, 61, is India's biotech who queen built Biocon from a garage startup into India's largest publicly traded biopharma firm, with USD 480 million in sales, mostly in low-cost drugs for diseases such as diabetes and cancer.
Sharma, 56, is credited with giving Axis bank India's third-largest private-sector bank, with assets of USD 67 billion a retail focus, digitizing transactions and expanding the network.
Forbes said under her command the bank's total deposits have grown to USD 46 billion as of December 31 and net profit crossed the USD 1 billion mark for the first time in the year ended last March.
Sangwan, 56, made history two years ago at state-owned LIC when she was appointed managing director, becoming the first woman to occupy the post.
She is one of 3 managing directors at the 59-year-old behemoth, which remains India's largest insurer.
Sangawan says her biggest career challenge was turning around the housing finance subsidiary, now the country's third-biggest mortgage lender.
The list also includes several top executives from Australia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan and Thailand.
Two of Alibaba s top female decision-makers - Maggie Wu and Lucy Peng - made the grade (a first for any company).
Included for the first time in the list are women from developing nations Mongolia and Myanmar.