Once seen as a front-runner for the corner office at ICICI Bank, Nachiket Mor has so far had a journey full of twist and turns.
From being a hardcore commercial banker (he was a member on the ICICI Bank board for seven years), Mor, a PhD in economics from the University of Pennsylvania and a global fellow at Yale University, in early 2008 moved to ICICI Foundation, a non-profit organisation promoting inclusive growth.
Since then, he has devoted most of his time away from the spotlight - in the social sector.
That he thinks differently is evident from his initiative - Kshetriya Gramin Financial Services (KGFS), a microfinance institution that stood out at a time when the sector was facing a crisis of confidence.
KGFS, which has a little more than 100 branches and 200,000 customers, grew at a time the government was struggling to find ways to implement financial inclusion and the limitations of microfinance were becoming apparent.
His experience and academic credentials are something the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) obviously couldn’t ignore for long, especially at a time it was pushing banks for financial inclusion through increased banking penetration.
So, he was inducted on the central bank’s board in May this year - four months before Raghuram Rajan, his batchmate at IIM Ahmedabad, took charge as RBI governor.
And, Rajan moved swiftly to tap this seasoned banker’s experience. Within days of taking charge, he named Mor as the head of a 13-member committee to formulate a detailed vision for financial inclusion across the country.
The committee includes high-profile bankers like Vikram Pandit, former global head of Citibank; and Shikha Sharma, MD & CEO of Axis Bank.
Mor has also been included in the four-member high-level advisory committee headed by former RBI governor Bimal Jalan to vet bank licence applications.
Many believe these to be the precursor to something much bigger. If the buzz in the central bank corridors are anything to go by, a much greater role at RBI could be coming Mor’s way. He is seen as a strong contender to be a deputy governor.
Of the four deputy governors RBI has, two are promoted from within the ranks, while the other two - usually an economist and a former commercial banker - are hired from outside.
The terms of two RBI deputy governors are to end in 2014. Anand Sinha, promoted from within RBI and spearheading the process of new banking licences, retires in January. And, former banker K C Chakrabarty’s term ends in June.
According to the norms, the retirement age of a deputy governor is 62 (but the condition can be relaxed by the government).
To be a deputy governor - for a tenure of five years or till one turns 62, whichever is earlier - a person should be less than 60 years old.
The fact that Mor, 49, meets all eligibility criteria is only stoking the buzz around his chances to be a deputy governor.