Axis Bank’s Shikha Sharma keeps everyone guessing on her future

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Shikha Sharma, the managing director and chief executive of Axis Bank, today kept everyone guessing about her future with the third largest private lender amidst the bank hiring a headhunting agency and reports of Tata Group sounding her out.

"The appointment of a search firm is in the interest of best governance, given that I'd have done nine years in 2018 with the bank and it does not preclude anything about whether I will do another term or not," is all what she had to say when asked about her future with the bank.

The 59-year-old Sharma is serving the second term that comes to an end in June 2018. She joined the bank in 2009 with a five-year mandate which was subsequently extended.

According to a recent media report, subsequently denied by the bank, she has been sounded out by Tata Sons chairman N Chandrasekaran to head the diversified conglomerate's financial services vertical.

"All I can say is that I'm deeply excited about the opportunity of what's possible in the financial services space in India," she told reporters.

However, Sharma was quick to add that right now the focus is on building the bank. "We believe that Axis Bank has created some very strong capability in it, we have a strong brand which all customer surveys suggest people who experienced it have liked it. So I think there are lots of exciting things to do in the bank."

Sharma, however, did not spell out her plans when specifically asked about her future with the bank, saying, "I think the bank has given its comment on the reports. I have nothing more to add as far as that is concerned." Sharma, who joined the bank from larger rival ICICI Bank Group, said, "You should wait to hear that announcement from the board at the appropriate time. My job right now is to focus on working with the team and doing the best we can for our customers and other stakeholders."

She joined Axis from ICICI Prudential Life where she was the managing director and chief executive and replaced the first chairman and chief executive of the bank P J Nayak.

Sharma began her career with the erstwhile infra lender ICICI Ltd in 1980 and played a key role in setting up the group's investment banking business.
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