Deepak Parekh, chairman of Housing Development Finance Corporation (HDFC), is an Indian banking icon, having built an institution that is synonymous with mortgage finance services in India.
Parekh displayed classic judgement and prescience to grow an institution in its formative years, navigating it through several tough phases, and transform it into a formidable financial services institution.
Today, HDFC is present in a raft of services ranging from banking to life insurance to real estate.
Parekh, a recipient of the Padma Bhushan award in 2006, serves on the board of several big companies across diverse sectors.
Policymakers and business leaders often lean on him for advice on strategy and even to settle contentious matters. Before he stepped down as HDFC CEO in 2009, Parekh had worked in the company for 31 years, including 16 as chairman.
In an exclusive interview with Moneycontrol, the doyen of Indian banking reveals for the first time his management style, who has inspired him most in the world of business and his success mantra.
What time do you like to be at your desk?
Starting work doesn’t always have to mean being at one’s desk.My morning schedule in the so-called pre-COVID times could start as early as a 7.30 am with breakfast meeting, followed by reaching office by 9.30 am.
I use to travel a lot, so that would often mean an extra early start to the day. I have always liked to meet people. Often if there were people who wanted and I didn’t have the time to meet during the week, I would call them home on Sundays.
Honestly, I’ve rarely kept track of timings at work.But mostly I prefer an early start to the day.
Where is the best place to prepare for leadership: at a business school or on the job?
I have always believed in the philosophy of learning by doing; so most certainly, it’s on the job.
Describe your management style.
An open-door policy – anyone, irrespective of their hierarchy can meet me. Being approachable is important.
Are tough decisions best taken by one person or collectively?
Outcomes tend to be better when organisations adopt a more inclusive and consultative process, but having said that, ultimately, there has to be one person accountable for taking a final stance. Most times it should be a combination of both.
Do you want to be liked, feared or respected?
Certainly not feared. As far as being liked or respected is concerned, to my mind, both are never given, they have to be earned.
What does your support team look like?
The tables have turned now. In my non-executive role, I am now happy to support anyone or any team that needs my help or advice.