Sandeep Bakhshi, ICICI Bank’s MD and CEO has been spearheading, India’s largest private sector bank, ICICI Bank for the last two years. His able leadership, has guided ICICI Bank to introduce several cultural changes to the HR policies and that has brought a transformative change in its work culture.
How Sandeep Bakhshi led a cultural shift at ICICI Bank that starts from the top
As a leader, Sandeep Bakhshi believes in letting his team grow and take initiative. This philosophy is having a major cultural impact on ICICI Bank, wherein team members are being empowered to take decisions. Throughout his career, Sandeep Bakhshi has followed a customer-first approach, which balances customer interests with value generation for stakeholders and shareholders. He believes that his staff should be independent thinkers, and feel confident in taking decisions to further the organisation’s goals.
Under Sandeep Bakhshi’s leadership, ICICI Bank has seen a shift in its operational environment over the past two years. The Bank prioritises building a work culture that brings out the best in its staff, by creating a synergy between all the brand’s attributes, such as product, distribution, and human capital. The teams are all galvanised by a common goal: ‘fair to customer, fair to bank’.
To this end, the frontline employees have taken the core responsibility of providing the best possible banking experience to the customers. A significant sign of this is that zonal heads have the authority to establish branches in a specific region or geography, and even have the freedom to organise their workforce. ICICI Bank has around 21,000 touch points, which include about 5,300 branches across the country. The Bank also has about 15,000 ATMs.
Boosting co-operation across teams
The Bank is now working towards simplifying its vertical and horizontal hierarchies. Managers are now expected to rely on their connections with large corporates to collect opportunities, which will be passed on to business leads. Teams have an increased sense of responsibility and ownership towards the Bank’s performance.
Additionally, the Bank has replaced titles such as senior general manager (SGM) and deputy general manager (DGM) for its 400-strong leadership team, replacing them with titles that are indicative of the team members’ responsibilities. This streamlined, simplified approach to team structures boosts the spirit of cooperation within the teams.
The Bank is also increasing its culture of experimentation. It is breaking down markets based on PIN codes, where it is conducting micro-experiments, whose results it expects to replicate on a broader scale.
Making employees feel appreciated
A good leader knows that happier employees work better. Under Sandeep Bakhshi’s leadership, the Bank has gone the extra mile to ensure that frontline and customer-facing staff are appreciated for their work and service during the ongoing pandemic. Around 80,000 employees of the Bank have received pay hikes of about 8 per cent. These employees, who form about 80 per cent of ICICI Bank’s total workforce, have been indispensable in ensuring the normal functioning of all branches during these unprecedented times.
At the two-year mark of Sandeep Bakhshi’s tenure as MD and CEO, the Bank has seen inspiring changes at every level. It has gone through transformative cultural and structural reforms that have been swift, decisive and effective. The philosophy of “One Bank, One Team, One Goal” has brought the teams closer by breaking down symbols of hierarchy, and has increased the collaboration within teams across the Bank.
Even during these challenging times, under the guidance of Sandeep Bakhshi, ICICI Bank remains committed to emerging stronger as an institution. It is participating in the nation’s economic development with the sole focus on nurturing a lasting relationship with customers and creating sustainable value for all stakeholders.