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Kalpana Morparia, an iconic banker, set to draw curtains on an illustrious career

Morparia made her name in the banking world during her stint at ICICI Bank. After retiring from ICICI Bank in 2007 as Joint Managing Director, Morparia took charge at JP Morgan in 2008.

May 28, 2020 / 02:56 PM IST

In one of her interviews in 2017, when the interviewer asked veteran banker Kalpana Morparia about her work-life balance, Morparia's response was blunt.

"What is this question for me? Life is work and vice-versa," she told the interviewer.

The answer sums up Morparia's approach to work, according to her former colleagues.

After around 12 years in JP Morgan, Morparia is now set to retire early next year. Her successor in JP Morgan has a tough task ahead. The world is fighting yet another crisis in the form of a deadly pandemic that will have catastrophic impact on world economy, presenting a crisis possibly a bigger one than the 2008 crisis.

According to reports, Morparia's position will be split into two with Leo Puri, ex-chief executive at UTI Mutual Fund, taking over as chairman of South and Southeast Asia and Madhav Kalyan being elevated into Senior country officer position.

Morparia, 71, is an iconic banker in true sense and one of the few women bankers to rise to the top in the Indian banking industry. Morparia made her name in the banking world during her stint at ICICI Bank. After retiring from ICICI Bank in 2007 as Joint Managing Director, Morparia took charge at JP Morgan in 2008 at a time the world was in the midst of a global financial crisis.

Colleagues who worked with her describe Morparia as a hard working banker, who loved 12-hour working days.

In her three-decade long stay at ICICI Bank, Morparia played an instrumental role in the bank's evolution from a domestic lending institution to a big private bank with a strong retail focus. Her journey from a law graduate to a top executive in ICICI Bank is also a significant chapter in the history of  India's banking sector. In ICICI Bank, Morparia worked with the likes of S Nadkarni, KV Kamath and N Vaghul. Her work profile at the bank saw her handling multiple responsibilities like treasury, legal divisions, insurance and asset management.

"She was a hard-working executive who set an example for juniors. Her ability to deal with crisis situations helped the bank tremendously," said a former colleague. Morparia's stint coincided with the rise of Chanda Kochhar.

Morparia played a crucial role in steering the operations when the bank was going through a tough time, including a run on the bank in Gujarat in 2003 following rumours in local newspapers.

Announcing her retirement, JP Morgan said Morparia has agreed to "stay with the firm until Q1 2021, and help lead the firm's efforts in South and Southeast Asia as we and our clients adapt to the new economic and work environment".

Dinesh Unnikrishnan
Dinesh Unnikrishnan
first published: May 28, 2020 02:45 pm