Naina Lal Kidwai
India
Naina Lal Kidwai
  • Former Country Head, HSBC India and Founder, India Sanitation Coalition (Financial Services, Banking, Sanitation)
Born Delhi, India 1957. BA, Economics, Lady Shri Ram College for Women (1977); MBA, Harvard Business School (1982)
“It’s very hard to get corporates and NGOs to work together. It’s surprisingly hard to get two corporates to agree on a common agenda or indeed NGOs to agree on common agendas. But I think years of experience, some patience, certainly having credibility with the corporate world, and some credibility with the not-for-profit world helps in driving some of these collaborations”

Summary

Naina Lal Kidwai is a prominent investment and retail banker in India. In this interview, she discusses the challenges she faced as a woman trying to start a career in chartered accountancy in India right out of college, and then moves on to her experience as the first Indian woman to go to Harvard Business School. Upon graduating from the Harvard Business School in 1982, she began a career in investment banking at British-owned Grindlays Bank in India (acquired by ANZ in 1984), which she joined that same year. Kidwai discusses the liberalization of the Indian economy in the 1990s, the evolution of capital markets in that country, and the emergence of the National Stock Exchange. Kidwai then moves on to discuss her switch from investment banking to retail banking, where she became head of Non-Resident Indian Services. She stayed at Grindlays for 12 years before moving to Morgan Stanley, where she went back to working with capital markets in equity, debt, mergers, and acquisitions. After Morgan Stanley’s, she moved to the Indian affiliate of HSBC to head their investment banking and capital markets business, eventually becoming Country Head and Group General Manager of HSBC India until 2009. In her interview, Kidwai explains how technology such as the internet, mobile phones, and mobile banking were able to help ease the pain of the Modi governments’s demonetization strategy in 2016, which created a lengthy period of cash shortages. Kidwai further touches on India’s microfinance movement and the differences between the corporate world and the not-for-profit world. Towards the end of the interview, Naina Lal Kidwai discusses the India Sanitation Coalition (ISC), an NGO, which she established in 2015. The ISC focuses on water, sanitation, and hygiene with an emphasis on projects such as behavioral change to promote clean habits, starting with educating schoolchildren about safe sanitation and hygiene practices. She explains how the ISC is able to get corporates and the private sector involved in these projects and contribute to the overall task of improving sanitation in India.

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Naina Lal Kidwai is a prominent investment and retail banker in India. In this interview, she discusses the challenges she faced as a woman trying to start a career in chartered accountancy in India right out of college, and then moves on to her experience as the first Indian woman to go to Harvard Business School. Upon graduating from the Harvard Business School in 1982, she began a career in investment banking at British-owned Grindlays Bank in India (acquired by ANZ in 1984), which she joined that same year. Kidwai discusses the liberalization of the Indian economy in the 1990s, the evolution of capital markets in that country, and the emergence of the National Stock Exchange. Kidwai then moves on to discuss her switch from investment banking to retail banking, where she became head of Non-Resident Indian Services. She stayed at Grindlays for 12 years before moving to Morgan Stanley, where she went back to working with capital markets in equity, debt, mergers, and acquisitions. After Morgan Stanley’s, she moved to the Indian affiliate of HSBC to head their investment banking and capital markets business, eventually becoming Country Head and Group General Manager of HSBC India until 2009. In her interview, Kidwai explains how technology such as the internet, mobile phones, and mobile banking were able to help ease the pain of the Modi governments’s demonetization strategy in 2016, which created a lengthy period of cash shortages. Kidwai further touches on India’s microfinance movement and the differences between the corporate world and the not-for-profit world. Towards the end of the interview, Naina Lal Kidwai discusses the India Sanitation Coalition (ISC), an NGO, which she established in 2015. The ISC focuses on water, sanitation, and hygiene with an emphasis on projects such as behavioral change to promote clean habits, starting with educating schoolchildren about safe sanitation and hygiene practices. She explains how the ISC is able to get corporates and the private sector involved in these projects and contribute to the overall task of improving sanitation in India.
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Video Clips by Topic

Gender

Naina Lal Kidwai, former head of HSBC India and founder of the India Sanitation Coalition, reflects on her experience as a woman trying to start a career in chartered accountancy in India in the 1970s, and her experience as the first Indian woman to go to Harvard Business School.

Keywords: India, Gender


Corruption

Naina Lal Kidwai, former head of HSBC India and founder of the India Sanitation Coalition, discusses how to create a successful organization without participating in corruption.

Keywords: India, Corruption


Social Impact

Naina Lal Kidwai, former head of HSBC India and founder of the India Sanitation Coalition, discusses the differences between the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors. 

Keywords: Social Impact, India


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Additional Resources

Additional Resources

Interview Citation Format

Interview with Naina Lal Kidwai, interviewed by Tarun Khanna, New Delhi, India, April 4, 2019, Creating Emerging Markets Oral History Collection, Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School.