An interaction with Jaspal Bindra (Asia CEO – Standard Chartered)

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An interaction with Jaspal Bindra (Asia CEO – Standard Chartered)

Graduating from XLRI in 1984, Jaspal Bindra has climbed to the top of the corporate ladder to become the CEO for Asia of Standard Chartered Bank. Here’s what he has to say about his experience in XLRI as a student, a doyen of the business world and now as a member of the Board of Governors.


How do you think that things in XLRI have changed since you passed in 1984?

It has been such a long time that it is inevitable for things to have changed. The physical infrastructure is astonishingly different. In terms of placements there has been a distinct improvement. We were such a small number compared to now. With large numbers it becomes quite a challenge to network with all the classmates. Another improvement has been that the faculty has grown tremendously maintaining the proportion of student to faculty as 10:1 which is critical to keep the pace and excellence. But the best thing so far has been that the new campus has opened us to the river and mountain which was not accessible to us earlier. Also, academically, there has been the addition of plenty of new courses like Global MBA, the satellite programme and the one year programme is also much larger. This expansion has allowed the Jesuit value system of reaching out and making good, able citizens of more people possible.


How has your perspective changed with regard to strategic decisions/ administrative issues after being a part of the Board of Governors of XLRI?

As an alumnus one felt involved and good to give back to the institute. I would meet XLers not only in the company but from around the world and build a network. We came back for our 25th year reunion five years ago and it was fun and full of nostalgia. Besides that there was really no reason to come to Jamshedur. But now, being a part of the Board, I am more involved and delighted to be a part of the decision making process in the affairs of my own institute. I think an alumnus will have the interests of the college much better at heart. This is because we feel for our Alma Mater and for us it is a matter of pride, a sense of responsibility that goes beyond the confines of duty.


Any memories from your time at XLRI that you would like to share with us?

There are several cherished memories back from those days. We had rituals back then which you don’t have any more. There was a massive pond near the Bodhi tree. So dunking in the pond was a major one. Then we had bodhi parties, parties before and after the semester breaks. Then there was the anxiety of placements where the entire batch came together as one. Me and my friends also went to watch movies in the local theatres. We also had many people who had worked so for them it was a release. For some of us who were on the linear education path, we stayed at home mostly, so there was a freedom which was new. Some made more of it than others in terms of networking, making friends etc.


You are one of the few Asians/ Indians on the Standard Chartered board. How does that feel?

There are very few companies that are giving such an opportunity these days. Standard Chartered is one of the few which welcomes diversity. It is an honour to be on the board. It certainly gives one a much closer look at the global scenario.


 How do you think your lineage, educational background and roots have helped you achieve all that you have?

It’s a value system that comes with it and it clearly helps. One of the good things about XL is that it has got a strong value system. I was born in Meerut,that is where I come from. I grew up largely in West Bengal in very small districts. I did my schooling in Darjeeling, CA in Kolkata followed by my MBA here. My experience taught me that everybody is lucky, some make more of it than others. I used to have a boss who was very successful and I asked him how he did it. He told me that it was easy, you just have to jump in at the right time. I think that it is essential to have high energy and be enthusiastic and curious about things. I think these are values that have helped me a lot. We need to constantly keep on doing new things and keep some time for reflection which is what my lineage and education taught me.


Any message for the current graduating batch?

I would like to convey two messages. Firstly, a career is a long road and in order to be really successful at it you need to take a good break every 10 years. We should not get hung up upon every single decision. All of us want a good rating, promotion every week and month. We need to focus on prioritizing otherwise we can get burned out. We should retain the patience to learn. We should focus on building credibility to earn people’s trust. Secondly, people tend to make their job the sole purpose of their living. This is wrong for several reasons. We should try to cultivate interests apart from just work. Once you start working you tend to avoid your extra-curricular pursuits. You should continue to be a good musician or read or do what you like. Your whole success or failure should not be determined by whether you made CEO or not. Do some social work or find a hobby that is sustainable and gives you a sense of satisfaction as well. And keep winning XL-IIMC always.

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