My life theme: Creating opportunities, enabling possibilities

[ Author: Sanjiv Bhuyan ]

Dream Big

Some dreams are big and some dreams are real. When the big dreams become real, life becomes worth living and sharing. I grew up in Guwahati, Assam in a typical middle class family that focused on the best education that my father could afford. I did my schooling at Don Bosco and my 12th from the premier Cotton College in Guwahati. After my Engineering from JEC, Jorhat, I was under pressure to start working in the local tea or oil industry. My father, who was working in Guwahati Refinery, was retiring and both my younger brothers were studying. I was eager for something different and that is when I challenged my first status quo, to do an MBA at Guwahati University and join the big world of Finance.

I joined the new Global Trust Bank (GTB), launched in the aftermath of India’s economic reforms, I was innovating and learning and growing every day. There were many firsts I achieved- my journey and my organization’s path were on similar tracks, both upstarts, both hungry for success.

I was awarded the Fast Track promotion and within a short span of 4 years, I made it to the Mumbai Corporate banking team from Kolkata. It was stiff competition and a tough playing field. I rose through the ranks to become an Asst. Vice President.
However the buildup had been happening for a while, the clash of interests between the system and the private enterprise, the interpretations of business practices that seemed justified by the promoters in the bank were violations of norms.

Sadly, GTB failed after a much publicized scandal and all of us were acutely aware of the taint.

I was devastated. It was like the end of the road to a journey I had so carefully traveled. I felt defeated. As if I had let myself, my family, my people back home, down in a way they never expected me to. My wings seemed clipped and I felt caged.

I knew that only I could heal my wounds and walk again. I could not let my hopes sink. I rose and tried.

The Call of Success

That’s when I identified my next opportunity: HDFC Bank, where an inspirational leader was taking the bank to new heights. After almost eight years in the bank today, the thrill is the same as it was the first day.

The people at the helm believed in my potential and gave me the chance that I had always wanted. I was offered a position of Dy. Vice President in Corporate Banking, Mumbai.

The targets set for me were stiff. The expectations were high. It was again a tough battle. I had to start from scratch from identifying new business to growing the portfolio. At stake were my job, and more importantly, my dreams.

I would like to list down some of my beliefs which helped me achieve what I had aimed for.

• To never take No for an answer even if the No was from me.
• To spend time and identify potential, where others thought none existed.
• To think differently and be innovative.
• To build bonds, not just relationships.
• To work for Individual Responsibility and Collective Celebration.

In just three years, I had built an impressive portfolio and grew the business three fold. So much so that I was awarded the most outstanding contributor nationally. I got promoted as Vice President and Unit Head, leading my own team of relationship managers.

When the opportunity came to move to a regional role, I moved to Corporate Credit in a challenging role as approver for Credit for two regions in the country, approving credit proposals for large domestic companies and MNCs.

Every day at HDFC Bank was initially to prove – to myself, to my peers, to my bosses, to my clients – that a finance professional from the far flung state of Assam and then from a failed bank could work and excel among the best. The bank reciprocated, recognized my achievements, helped hone my leadership skills by nominating me for a Management Development Programme at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, something reserved for the chosen few identified future leaders in the Bank.

Last year, the Bank promoted me as a Senior Vice President, which is a senior management role and today, I am poised for growth. Currently I head Credit for Emerging Corporate, being responsible for assets of close to Rs. 18,000 crores generating net revenues of more than Rs. 750 crores. I play a major role in ensuring that the bank has a healthy growth every year and maintain an immaculate credit quality, making HDFC bank the most respected bank in the Industry.

When I had overcome my professional crisis, and was settling down, my personal family life went through a major upheaval from which it took me a lot of courage and self-belief to come out. I never let it impact my professional career and stuck on with my relentless pursuit of my goals which helped me survive and be at peace with my inner self. Today I live the Great Indian Dream with Papori – who gave me the courage to go on, in the Maximum City of Mumbai.

But I can’t help but feel that I am so lucky to be here- lucky to have graduated at the cusp of India’s reforms, to be presented with opportunities denied to a massive mass of Indians, specifically the ones from Assam and the entire North East.

I believe this luck and privilege carries with it the responsibility of changing the lives of disadvantaged, to the best of my ability.

Despite its vaunted progress in the global economy, the country as a whole remains excruciatingly poor. One of ways to eradicate poverty is to create more jobs through entrepreneurship.

Of Roots and Wings

I always believed in expressing and asserting myself when I have the conviction and the confidence to drive things. I have a very strong aspiration and desire to be extremely successful in my banking career. If I can play a role in my bank as a senior credit functionary to promote entrepreneurship which would create more jobs in the economy, then I would have played my part successfully.

But what I cherish the most is being successful in encouraging my mother to work for an NGO back home in Guwahati which supports education for the less fortunate. I have myself been running in the Mumbai Marathon for the Bank and raised money for children’s welfare, which is very close to my heart.

In the end, it is all about creating opportunities and then enabling possibilities that these opportunities unleash. I want my daughter, Zoya to grow up in a desirable India, where every child will have access to decent education, health care and shelter

Personally, my battle continues. I want to make a difference. Not just as a role model but as a positive change agent. I want to marry my profession with my personal goals. My wings allow me to fly in my career, but my roots call for support.

There are two lasting bequests we can give our children – One is roots, the other is wings….


Sanjiv Bhuyan
Senior Vice President – Wholesale Credit
Lower Parel

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