Inspiring Personalities

Chanda Kochhar Breaking Gender Stereotypes (Inspiration)

Chanda Kochhar is a name that has emerged into the corporate world like a rising sun, which now shines brightly as ever. The Managing Director and CEO of ICICI Bank, India’s largest private sector bank is a woman ruling what is stereotyped as a man’s world. A highly qualified lady, Kochhar is also a mother of two and the first woman recipient of Businessperson of the Year Award (2012) by Business India.

Chanda Kochhar Inspiration: Breaking Gender Stereotypes

                  Chanda Kochhar 

Born in Jodhpur and brought up in Jaipur, Chanda inherited the strength to fight tough situations from her mother. At the tender age of 13, she lost her 51 year old father to a sudden heart attack. Her mother, who until then was a humble home-maker, took charge of bringing up three children single-handedly. Chanda recalls how she and her siblings saw her mother step up, to ensure that her children get the best from life. In her letter to her daughter Aarti, the CEO lays emphasis on the importance of adapting to circumstances and not being afraid of the unknown.

Like the beginning for every great thing is small, Chanda too began her career as a Management Trainee at ICICI Bank in 1984. Not only did her career graph ascend thereon, she also became fundamental in having the Bank stand strong at the time of crisis. In fact, her cool and calm composure and the tendency to not let stress overtake are often given credit for the bank’s success.

Chanda Kochhar multidimensional roles at work can be somewhat understood when we glance at her educational qualifications-

  • A and M.B.A degrees from Jai Hind College, Mumbai
  • Masters in Management Studies (Finance) from the Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai
  • Cost Accountant from the Institute of Cost and Works Accountants of India.

Besides these, she also received a Wockhardt Gold Medal for Management Studies and also the J.N Bose Gold Medal for Cost Accountancy. In October 2014, she was conferred with an honorary Doctor of Laws from Carleton University, Canada, in recognition of her pioneering work in the financial sector, effective leadership in a time of economic crisis and support for engaged business practices.

The list of awards that she has won is even longer and astounding. Her ground breaking achievements as a woman in the banking sector, won her many accolades and appreciations. In 2013, she received the third highest civilian award, that is, the Padma Bhushan Award for her contribution to the banking sector. In 2011, she was awarded the ABLF Woman of Power Award at the Asian Business Leadership Forum.

Recognition and Achievements

  • The only Indian to be featured in the Dow Jones list of Most Influential Female Executives in the World of the last decade. She is ranked 12th in the global list (2013)
  • Topped the list of ’50 Most Powerful Women in Business’ by Fortune India (2012)
  • Ranked 36thin the Forbes list of ‘World’s 100 Most Powerful Women’
  • Featured in Forbes list of ‘Asia’s Power Women 2015’
  • Conferred with the ’Banker of the Year Award’ by Financial Express
  • Featured in the list of ’30 Most Powerful Women Leaders’ in Business Today for eight consecutive years from 2002 to 2010

The list of her achievements is huge. You can take a look at the entire list on

Chanda Kochhar credits her family for her success. They never complained of her absence at home and were always supportive of her. However, this wonder woman never let her career obstruct with her responsibilities as a mother. Even when ICICI along with others faced severe economic crisis, Chanda found time to be present at her son’s squash tournament.

‘You never made us realize that you had such a demanding, successful and stressful career. At home, you were just our mother’. These were the words of her daughter when she was made the MD and CEO of ICICI group. Today she is not only a mother, banker, CEO and MD. She is also a member of the Prime Minister’s Council of Trade and Industry and the Deputy Chairperson of the Indian Banks Association.

In her famous letter to her daughter, which was also featured in Sudha Menon’s “Letters from Eminent Parents to their daughters”, Kochhar pens an advice for all of us-

“Take destiny in your own hands, dream of what you want to achieve, and write it in your own way. As you go ahead in life, I want you to climb the path to success one step at a time. Aim for the sky, but move slowly, enjoying every step along the way. It is all those little steps that make the journey complete.”

This lady is an inspiration to all those who feel that it isn’t possible to juggle between multiple roles. From her we also learn that there isn’t anything that one cannot do. Gender, circumstances, criticism; there is really nothing that can come on our way if we have the determination, the will and the skill to reach our dreams. More importantly, Kochhar’s success mantra remains not letting stress take over as it is the main culprit that pulls us down and forces us to procrastinate.

“There is no limit to what a determined mind can achieve, but in achieving your goal, don’t compromise on the values of fair play and honesty. Don’t cut corners or compromise to achieve your dreams. Remember to be sensitive to the feelings of people around you. And remember, if you don’t allow stress to overtake you, it will never become an issue in your life.”

You can read the Chanda Kochhar’s full letter in Sudha Menon’s Book that can be ordered online. PDF and Ebook versions are also available.





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