Inspirational Woman – Naina Lal Kidwai

The inspirational woman that we are going to talk about today is a very common name that we heard during our childhood. Whenever, I saw any award show for women, I had heard this name several times. Naina Lal Kidwai, former Group General Manager and Country Head of HSBC India. When I was a kid I was in awe of her, because there were very few women we knew who held powerful positions during the 90s. Ms. Kidwai is an inspiration to many 90’s kids like me.

Ms.Kidwai holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Lady Shri Ram College for Women University of Delhi (1977 batch) and was the First Indian Woman to graduate with an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1982.She was also the first woman to guide the functioning of a foreign bank in India. She is also a qualified chartered accountant. Ms. Kidwai, was also a former President of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).

Ms. Kidwai started her career in 1982 and until 1994 was at ANZ Grindleys Bank Plc. where her assignments included Head of the Investment Bank, Head of Global NRI Services and Head of the Western India, Retail Bank.

From 1994 to 2002, she was Vice Chairman and Head of Investment Banking at Morgan Stanley India before moving to HSBC, where she was Chairperson of the HSBC Group of Companies in India and on the Board of HSBC Asia Pacific, until her retirement in December 2015. She was President of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI). She also served for 12 years until 2018 as Non-Executive Director of Nestlé S.A., Vevey, Switzerland.

Today, Naina Lal Kidwai is not only the Chairman of HSBC Asset Management and HSBC InvestDirect for the Indian market, but she is also a non-executive director on the board of Nestle, Chairwoman at City of London’s Advisory Council for India, and Global Advisor at Harvard Business School.  In addition, she is on the Governing Board of the National Council of Applied Economic Research, Audit Advisory Board and Auditor General of India, and on the National Executive Committee of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. 

She also received the ASSOCHAM (Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India) Ladies League’s Delhi Women of the Decade Achievers Award for Excellence in Banking.

Ms. Kidwai is also a Member of the Board of Directors and a Member of the Health, Safety & Sustainability Committee of Holcim (formerly LafargeHolcim). She was elected to the Board of Directors of LafargeHolcim in 2019. 

She has made regular appearances on listings by Fortune and others of international women in business and is the recipient of awards and honors in India including the Padma Shri for her contribution to Trade and Industry, from the Government of India.

She has authored three books including the bestsellers “30 Women in Power: Their Voices, Their Stories” and “Survive Or Sink: An Action Agenda for Sanitation, Water, Pollution, and Green Finance.”

Her other mandates include that she is a Non-Executive Director on the Boards of the following Indian companies: Max Financial Services Ltd, CIPLA Ltd, Larsen & Toubro Ltd, Nayara Energy Ltd (including of its subsidiary Vadinar Oil Terminal Ltd), and Gland Pharma Ltd. She is also Chairperson of the India Advisory Board Advent International Private Equity, Mumbai, India.

When she was asked in an Interview, how would she like to be remembered? “As a person who cares; for the environment, for the family, for my employees and the people who worked with me,” she says. “Just someone who was there for what was important at the time. Going forward, my agenda around women’s empowerment remains important because I engage in a lot of things to do with the women in the corporate world.”

Her interest in Water and the environment and empowerment of women  are reflected in her board positions of not-for-profit institutions like Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation, The Energy Resources Institute, International Advisory Council of the Inquiry of United Nations Environment Program (UNEP),  Commissioner for the Global Commission on Economy & Climate, Chair of FICCI’s Water Mission and FICCI’s Inclusive Governance Council and Chair of the India Sanitation Coalition.
She is one of India’s representatives on the BRICs Business Council and India Malaysia CEO Forum, and is on the Governing Boards of the National Council of Applied Economic Research and ICRIER and also a member of Rajasthan Chief Minister’s Advisory Council. She has been a member of the Government of India’s Industry Task Force, the Prime Minister’s Trade and Industry Council, the National Manufacturing Council, the National Trade Council, and on the Working Group on Banking, Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission and the National Institute of Bank Management


Image Source: Business World

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