Carleton University presents honorary degree to Chanda Kochhar, CEO of India’s ICICI Bank



ADVANCES in technology and global interconnectedness are just some of the ways in which the world is changing, says Chanda Kochhar, and businesses need to adjust to stay successful.

Kochhar, managing director and chief executive officer of ICICI Bank Ltd. – India’s largest bank in the private sector – spoke about global changes and how to adapt as part of the 2014 Dhahan Lecture which took place October 8 at Carleton University.

She also received an honorary degree (Doctor of Laws honoris causa) during a ceremony that took place before her lecture.

“I’m really honoured to receive this from Carleton,” said Kochhar. “I believe the achievements this recognition recognizes are not just my achievements – it’s the effort and hard work of thousands of men and women that work in the organization I have had the opportunity to lead.”

Kochhar said the honour is a symbol of the times we are living in today – where east and west are coming together, relations are strengthened between Canada and India, and there’s greater recognition of the contribution Indian Canadians have made to the Canadian economy.

She said these kinds of changes gave her the inspiration to focus her lecture on changes in today’s environment.

“This environment is volatile and every day there is news of some innovation taking place somewhere,” Kochhar said, adding that innovation in one organization may mean a competing business must re-invest in a new business model.

She outlined some of the changes impacting people’s lives and organizations, including global rebalancing.

“The share of developing economies in the world’s GDP is continuously growing,” Kochhar said. “Developing economies had less than 20 per cent share in the world’s GDP, and now they have more than 40 per cent.”

She added that this change did not happen overnight, but it was a process – and this shift has had an impact on how companies conduct business.

Global interconnectedness is another recent phenomenon, she said.

“(Countries of) the world are becoming more and more dependent on each other,” Kochhar said, citing  how the United States economy has affected the rest of the world.

Advances in technology – as well as digitization and social media – have also impacted individuals and the way organizations operate, she said.

“How we live our lives today is very different from how we lived 10 years ago,” she said. “It’s impacting us as individuals, the way we interact with our family, and the way customers interact with us. It’s important to be aware of how these changes are impacting the economy and how we adjust to it.”

In order to cope with these changes and stay competitive, Kochhar said an organization first needs to set goals.

“The process starts by laying out a strategic path,” she said, adding that the next step is executing that goal. “Just having a long-term direction is not enough.”

Communication is also key to coping with these changes, she said.

“You have to engage with employees and tell them why strategy is important. And communicate with your customers, regulator, investors – constantly communicate and tell them what path you’re taking and where the organization is on that path,” she said.

Diversity in the workplace – such as having an equal male and female team – is also important, she said, as well as to keep innovating.

“In today’s day and age, you have to keep reinventing your business models all the time, and realize that any change that takes place in an environment can offer you opportunities you never thought of,” she said, adding that it’s important to look at life in the same way. “The approach to life has to be flexible, because changes will keep taking place. It’s a constant journey of moving along with the environment in this changing world, and adjusting and re-adjusting.”


(Courtesy: Kristy Strauss, Carleton University)