Uday Kotak© HelloIndia

HELLO! 100 Most Influential: Uday Kotak

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Ananya Shankar

Why he matters: A revered benefactor, resilient businessman and Asia’s richest banker, Uday Kotak revolutionised India’s financial landscape for the private sector. His meteoric rise is proof that all one needs is a pinch of courage, backed by a plethora of knowledge.

Making his way from Karachi to Mumbai, Uday Kotak’s father joined the rest of his 60-member family living under one roof, with his birth marking the beginning of a new chapter. Their engagement in international trade of cotton and agricultural commodities gave Uday a taste for business early in his life. However, he ultimately started something of his own, with the guidance of his MBA professor, Shivanand Mankekar, a low-profile yet incredibly successful investment expert.

“I started going to the stock market with him every day, to the office of a particular broker, and sat there. That’s where the idea of financial consultancy began to germinate in my mind,” Uday reminisced about his early days in an interview.

Armed with an innate understanding of a company’s value and backing from Anand Mahindra, Uday founded Kotak Mahindra Finance—India’s first non-banking finance firm that later became Kotak Mahindra Bank. In 1995, an equity joint venture with Goldman Sachs opened India’s stock market to foreign direct investment and allowed this banking baron to thrive while their competitors struggled to survive. What began in one of his father’s godowns, at a time when banking was closed to the private sector, is today India’s third-largest private sector bank.

The Financial Fortress

From investment to insurance, today KMB is truly the all-inclusive financial services company that Uday once dreamed of.

“It’s extremely important for banks to be strong. They must protect the interests of both shareholders and depositors,” Uday says, underlining the need for an animal-like resilience towards financial stability.

Leading an institution that people put their hard-earned money in, he also emphasises the importance of trust (the reason banks carry family names!). It’s this relationship with shareholders that allows KMB to enhance value, manage risks and also minimise the impact on the society and environment—making it safe yet sustainable.

This year, the legendary banker stepped down from his role as CEO and Managing Director at Kotak Mahindra Bank, and he now awaits his appointment as a non-executive, non-independent director going forward.

Family & Philanthropy

Uday married businesswoman Pallavi in 1985, and together, they raised their sons, Ivy League graduates, Jay and Dhawal. A class-topper himself, Uday lays paramount importance on education, which is why he established the Kotak Education Foundation, focusing on the education of underprivileged children.

The man, who Forbes ranked as Asia’s richest banker at present, is above all a humble humanitarian, leaving behind an incredible legacy…

To see who else is on the list, grab the copy of HELLO! India’s August 2023 issue right here!