Sriram Kalyanaraman

Digital transformation of the financial world is astounding and ever changing and hence took up an exciting opportunity in that space with one of the intellectual and thought leaders in that space ie KGISL GSS . Senior Executive with 35years of leadership experience in financial services with a breadth of experience across various ecosystems: Multinational banks, Non-Banking financial companies (NBFCs), Credit bureau and a regulatory role with the Government of India and played a key role in Digitizing the PMAY CLSS process for which the National Housing Bank(NHB) won the Digital India award. Was with KBZ Bank Myanmar as General Manager for their Lending and Digitization of mortgages and prior to that as Managing Director & CEO of the NHB, the first private sector person to Head NHB. Has hands on experience in Retail and SME with Deutsche Bank and Standard Chartered Bank.My key strengths are managing multiple stakeholders at a board level, building industry-wide and government relationships, building and managing profitable businesses.

Our Exclusive Interview:

What was your journey like to get where you are?

Started my career as a Management trainee in NBFC known for his tough work culture and high ethics which sort of imbibed the value systems in you. Hard work and commitment has brought me to where I am .However, I have had a good fortune to work with some of the finest companies and bosses who taught us to get into details and understand every issue thoroughly . It is important that , we understand thoroughly what we ask our team members to execute.

How important is the organization’s culture to you? How do you ensure that you maintain a healthy culture in your organization?

Org culture is the most important aspect in a job . Organisation should be fair and empathetic towards its employees. As someone once said its employees first and customers next as the employees are the one who bring in or service the customers. Infact the current Technology organization which I work , has empathy has its theme thus driving the goal of empathy towards not only employees but also to our customers.

What is your current and ideal work/life balance? What measures do you take to control the work/life balance of your employees?

Except in crisis pls ensure employees leave at the end of their time and also give them the flexibility of working from home if they want to. Calling employees on work-related calls is definitely a no and as far as the possible time your emails land up in their mailbox on the next working day. But from a personal point of view, I am a bit of a workaholic where work comes above anything.

What’s your biggest people problem you’re trying to solve right now?

Attrition in tech and also how to take and implement empathy in Digitalized word of finance where every thing has become impersonal. If a customer ever gets into a loop and I call it as a “hell loop “ it is well nigh impossible for him to break that out and resolve it issue. Organizations which are empathetic will find solutions to this and With the advances in AI and ML these are possible.

Describe a time you had to make a tough decision (e.g., budget cuts, organizational restructuring, market withdrawal, etc.). What did you do, and what was the result?

Way back in the 90s we had to sell a business and we had about 50 employees with us who were starting at a job loss. We worked together as a team to give us a time and placed almost all of them within the organization over a period.

On another occasion when we were growing the business to a peak level ( after months of planning and our run rates were close the peak target ) we were forced to scale down the business due to a major Asset liability mismatch issue. Managing the sentiments of the team when he had fired them up all the past months was a very difficult task.

We had to break the issue in parts and explained to the sales team in groups to convince them of our decision and way forward and it worked.

What was your most unexpected lesson in leading for growth of the company?

That how much ever you plan it isn’t enough. I had a situation in a newly incorporated bank , suddenly customers asking us saying they hadn’t received the interest certificate. And every one says it has been done. We had to dig deep to find out someone hasn’t just mailed that and the printed ones were sitting in a corner. It is just that in the days of snail mail no one has given instructions to the mailing department to mail that out . Just goes to show check every aspect of the issue.

If you were able to go back in time 10 years from now. What would you tell yourself about leadership that you didn’t know then?

Actually leadership through the ages is same. Be clear straight word communicate and be empathetic. Throughout the world these are the traits of good leaders.

Which leader in the Corporate world do you admire and why?

There are few but again the common traits are empathy communication and wont ask his team to do something he or she wont do. Vision with values is a leadership trait and if you look at that

I would put late Mr Rahul Bajaj and Late JRD tata in that category. They are not only visionaries in their own right, spoke up even to the powers that be whenever needed and created the foundation of the Industrialized India.