Inspirational Women – Arundhati Bhattacharya

The Inspirational Woman that we are going to talk about today is Ms. Arundhati Bhattacharya, the Chairperson and CEO of Salesforce, India. She oversees the growth strategy of the company and plays an integral role in defining Salesforce’s relationship with the ecosystem of customers, partners and community across India.

Ms. Bhattacharya is a retired Indian banker and former Chairperson of the State Bank of India. She is the first woman to be the Chairperson of State Bank of India . She began her stint at SBI in 1977 as a Probationary Officer and gradually climbed the ladder, but found herself at the crossroads in 2006. A mother by now and posted to Lucknow to take charge of the eastern Uttar Pradesh region, she considered quitting and moving to a bigger city to give her daughter better schooling. “My mentor advised me not to give up before I had exhausted all possibilities. Giving up is easier, one shouldn’t take the easy option out,” she says in hindsight.

She has held several positions during her 36-year career with the bank including working in foreign exchange, treasury, retail operations, human resources and investment banking.

This included positions like the chief executive of the bank’s merchant banking arm- State Bank of India Capital Markets; chief general manager in charge of new projects. She has also served at the bank’s New York office. She has been involved with the launch of several new businesses such as SBI General Insurance, SBI Custodial Services, SBI Pension Funds Pvt. Ltd. and the SBI Macquarie Infrastructure Fund. She succeeded Pratip Chaudhuri, as chairman, who retired 30 Sep. 2013.She introduced a two-year sabbatical leave policy for the bank’s female employees to use either for maternity or elder care. On Women’s day, she announced free vaccination against cervical cancer to all the bank’s female employees.

She started SBI Buddy (a prepaid wallet), kicked off a fund that invests in startups, started fully digitised branches, built alliances with e-commerce heavyweights, etc. Many believe that she was able to see clearly the opportunities as well as threats of a digital-heavy future and reposition the bank accordingly.

Another challenging situation Bhattacharya recalls is her 2005 appointment as chief general manager for new projects, a posting ostensibly aimed to set her up for failure. “Nobody thought I could pull off the project, but it turned out to be a rewarding one and brought me great learning and satisfaction. There are always ways to turn setbacks around,” she believes.

She was due for retirement in October 2016, but was granted an extension till October 2017, allegedly for the controversial merger of the SBI’s five associate banks and Bharatiya Mahila Bank, in the wake of gross non-performing assets (GNPAs) mounting to 73 percent; the present government justifying the move through Banks Board Bureau, who consolidated her extension.[11]

In 2018 she was named Business Leader of the Year at The Asian Awards. Ms. Bhattacharya has joined as additional director, ‘independent director’ of Reliance Industries for five years commencing 17 October 2018.

In 2020 she was hired as the chairperson and chief executive for the India division of Salesforce, the global giant in CRM. She is also currently chairperson of SWIFT India, part of a global payments network.

“The IT sector is very different. I have had to unlearn and learn much. I ask lots of questions at the risk of sounding stupid at times,” she says. She has even picked up the requisite vocabulary. “GFG.” Asked what that means, she says with a grin: “Go for growth.”’

Ms.Bhattacharya rendered her resignation as an independent director of CRISIL (a global analytical company providing ratings, research, and risk and policy advisory services) effective 15 April.

She cited her joining Salesforce India as chairperson and CEO effective 20 April as the reason for the resignation. Bhattacharya would report to Ulrik Nehammer, General Manager APAC.

Currently she is working as Non-Executive Director with Reliance Industries limited.

Image Source: Times of India


Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.

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The copyright of this Article belongs exclusively to Ms. Aishwarya Sandeep. Reproduction of the same, without permission will amount to Copyright Infringement. Appropriate Legal Action under the Indian Laws will be taken.

If you would also like to contribute to my website, then do share your articles or poems at

We also have a Facebook Group Restarter Moms for Mothers or Women who would like to rejoin their careers post a career break or women who are enterpreneurs.

We are also running a series Inspirational Women from January 2021 to March 31,2021, featuring around 1000 stories about Indian Women, who changed the world. #choosetochallenge

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