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Success mantras from Kotak Mahindra's president

July 18, 2014 15:21 IST

Success mantras from Kotak Mahindra's president

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Prasanna D Zore

Shanti Ekambaram, president of consumer banking at Kotak Mahindra Bank, talks about her success mantras, career and money management lessons she learnt, work-life balance for working moms and what India's youth should aspire for.

Ekambaram, a commerce graduate from Mumbai’s Sydenham College and Chartered Accountant, was the recipient of Award for outstanding contribution in the field of Banking and Financial Services 2013-2014, an award instituted by the Indian Merchants’ Chamber’s ladies wing to acknowledge and recognise outstanding work done by women.

Her advice to youth: Your biggest competitor is yourself. Work every day to beat what you have done the previous day and you will be successful.

How do you look at the 'Award for outstanding contribution in the field of Banking and Financial Services 2013-2014'?

It is recognition of hard work, passion and teamwork, which I believe are the cornerstones of success.

It is also recognition of the fact that excellence can be achieved if one sets one’s mind to it.

It would not have been possible without the support of my organisation which gave me the opportunity, as well as the outstanding team that I have worked with who inspire and push you to greater heights.

People who inspired you and how…

My greatest inspiration are the colleagues who I have worked with -- both peers and teams.

A shared vision and passion is a great recipe for success.

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Image: Shanti Ekambaram, President of Consumer banking, Kotak Mahindra Bank


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'Life is a journey. Don't get too troubled by work-life balance'

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Tips to manage work-life balance for working women:

  • At the very beginning, decide what you want to be. Outline what you want in life, that is, define 'balance'. This can be different for different women.
  • Once you decide, whether it is balance or career, be happy with it.
  • If you believe you really want to be successful at your career you must learn to live with compromises. Thus compromise is evident but be satisfied and happy with what you have defined.
  • No one is a superwoman. This leads to unhappiness because they want to do one thing and they have something else in mind.
  • Most unhappiness or failures happen when you create a framework but are not mentally tuned to it.
  • Enjoy: Life is a journey. Don’t get too troubled by work-life balance. Learn to live with the situation.

Money management lessons life taught you

  • It is not how much you earn but what you do with it that creates wealth
  • Believe in 'allocation theory' between various asset classes
  • If something is too good to be true, it is probably too good to be true
  • No risk, no return

Challenges you faced and how did you overcome them…

I have been relatively lucky because I had support from my family, a great organisation, and a good team.

I think one of my biggest challenges was wanting to prove myself. You need to have more expectations out of yourself.

Relatively speaking I had more opportunities than more obstacles.

Many people have been asking me if I have faced any glass ceilings. I have not faced it because you have to grab the opportunities that come your way. I think the ceilings exist and I think many times they are created by women themselves. They don’t have the confidence to push themselves forward and take things in their own hands.

I find that if you are confident and grab opportunities that come your way, glass ceilings will cease to exist.

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Image: This illustration is used only for representational purpose
Photographs: Jayanta Shaw JS/TW/ Reuters
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'Today's youth is restless and want to achieve more in less time. They are also much smarter'

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Tell us about your success mantras:

  • Focus: Focus on what you are doing.
  • Excellence: I always say, I am my biggest competitor. If I wake up every day and try to better what I did yesterday, I will be good.
  • Passion and hard work: You have to love what you are doing. Then only you can create; otherwise you are just doing a job.
  • Humility: Be humble. Whatever you achieve will not hold you in good stead but after achieving what you have achieved, how you treat the smallest person in your organisation will determine how successful you are.
  • Respect people: Believe in yourself and the ‘power of teams’
  • Hiring: Hire people who are better than you are. Be willing to work with them and learn from them.
  • Keep learning: Never stop learning. Learn from your mistakes. It is not possible that you will always succeed; you will have failures in life as well. But how you come out of that failure, how you learn from these failures and move on will determine your success.

Career lessons you learnt that could inspire India's youth

Today's youth is restless and want to achieve more in less time. They are also much smarter. However, a few 'timeless lessons' for them:

  • First 5 to 10 years in one's career must be spent in learning and strengthening the foundation.
  • If this is not solid, it will be difficult to strategise effectively as one takes on a higher role.
  • Money will follow; do not chase money alone.
  • Focus on excellence in whatever you do.
  • Your biggest competitor is yourself. Work every day to beat what you have done the previous day and you will be successful.
  • Always be humble.

Other important lessons:

  • Don’t be afraid of failures.
  • Don’t go overboard when you are successful.
  • Team. Team. Team. It’s all about people.
  • Trends change faster and hence you constantly need to think ahead of times.

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Photographs: Utam Ghosh/Rediff.com
Tags: India

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'Work itself can be de-stressing at times'

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Qualities that make an excellent manager:

  • Ability to listen
  • Effective communication
  • Recognising the 'weakest link' and working on the same
  • Taking people along
  • Admitting mistakes and not hesitating to learn from them or taking mid-course corrections
  • Humility
  • Passion

How do you de-stress?

I listen to music and going on a long drive really helps me to de-stress.

I am very disciplined about my food. Food itself can lead to lot of stress when you work late nights and eat outside stuff.

I do a lot of reading and meet different kind of people. That is your friend circle should be completely different from your work circle.

Frankly, work itself can be de-stressing at times. When you are faced with a with a real problem, instead of running away from it, just go deep into it and focus on a new perspective to solve it. That itself is very energising.

I use to do farming at one stage, go trekking, lot of outdoor activity.


Image: From left: Ougoing President of IMC's Ladies' Wing Leena Vaidya, former SEBI and LIC Chairman G N Bajpai, Shanti Ekambaram at the awards ceremony in Mumbai
Photographs: Courtesy: Indian Merchants' Chamber
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