Shikha Sharma, a prominent figure in the Indian banking sector, has left an indelible mark on the industry with her visionary leadership and unwavering commitment to excellence.
Let's delve into the life and career of this remarkable economist and banker who steered Axis Bank to new heights during her tenure.
Born on 19th November 1958, Shikha Sharma's journey to becoming a stalwart in banking began with a strong educational foundation.
Despite her initial interest in physics, she chose economics for her undergraduate studies due to limited options and later excelled in mathematics, a subject close to her heart.
Shikha pursued a BA (Honours) in Economics from Lady Shri Ram College for Women (LSR) in Delhi and earned her MBA from the prestigious Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIM-A).
She further expanded her horizons with a post-graduate diploma in Software Technology from the National Centre for Software Technology in Mumbai.
Shikha Sharma's personal life reflects her dedication to pursuing excellence. She is married to Sanjaya Sharma, her batch-mate at IIM-A, who is the former CEO of Tata Interactive Systems.
The couple shares their life journey with two children, Tilak and Tvisha. Interestingly, Shikha comes from a family of accomplished professionals, with her two younger brothers being cardiologists.
With more than three decades of experience in the financial sector, Shikha Sharma's career is a testament to her strategic acumen and leadership. She embarked on her professional journey with ICICI Bank in 1980.
During her remarkable 29-year tenure with the ICICI group, she played a pivotal role in setting up ICICI Securities, a joint venture with J.P. Morgan, and established various group businesses, including investment banking and retail finance.
Shikha's career zenith at ICICI was marked by her role as the Managing Director & CEO of ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Company.
Under her leadership, the company became the number one private-sector life insurance company in India, reflecting her ability to drive exceptional growth and success.
Shikha Sharma's appointment as MD & CEO of Axis Bank in 2009 marked a significant turning point for the institution. Under her guidance, the bank's stock gained over 90%, and it acquired Enam Securities within a year and a half of her appointment.
Axis Bank's performance during her tenure was exemplary, with a compounded annual net profit growth rate of over 20% in the three years ending in 2014-15.
The bank's net non-performing asset ratio under Shikha's leadership was just 1.34% as of March 2015, significantly lower than the industry average. Axis Bank's various financial indicators, including net profit, operating profit, and net interest income, consistently reflected impressive growth.
The bank's international expansion efforts, such as opening a Representative Office in Dhaka, further exemplified its global ambitions under Shikha's leadership.
These achievements garnered significant recognition for Shikha Sharma and Axis Bank.
The bank was named "Bank of the Year in India" for 2014 by The Banker magazine and received the "Certificate of Recognition for Excellence in Corporate Governance" from the Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) in 2015.
Axis Bank consistently ranked as the "Most Trusted Private Sector Bank" and was recognised as the "No 1 company to work for in the BFSI sector" in a Business Today survey in 2013.
Harvard Business Review even published a case study on "Managing Change at Axis Bank" in 2013, highlighting the bank's remarkable transformation under her stewardship.
Shikha Sharma's retirement in 2018 marked the end of an era at Axis Bank, and her legacy continues to inspire the banking and finance industry in India.
Her achievements serve as a testament to the potential of visionary leaders to transform institutions and drive remarkable growth.
Throughout her illustrious career, Shikha Sharma's unwavering commitment to excellence, corporate governance, and innovation made her one of the most influential figures in the Indian banking sector.
Her journey from a young economist to a distinguished banker exemplifies the power of determination, education, and dedication in shaping successful careers and institutions.
Shikha Sharma's story remains an enduring source of inspiration for future generations of leaders in India and beyond.