After resigning from Citibank, I wasn’t just looking for my next job. I was looking for a place where I could build my career. I had read all about GE and was fascinated with the kind of organisation that Jack Welch had built. I heard that GE Capital was coming to India. I could see myself at GE for the next 30 years doing different things. Mahesh, my ex-boss at Citi, was one of the first few senior hires there. So I called him and told him I wanted to move to GE. He asked me if I really wanted to move out of Citi, and I said yes. He said, “Great, you are hired as the sales and marketing head!” Before I got on board, I, however, had to meet Pramod and Deepak Satwalekar since it was a joint venture with HDFC at that time. I met with Pramod first and halfway through the interview, he asked me what if he offered me a job as the head of risk of the consumer businesses instead of a role in sales and marketing. I told him I would take it. He got a little pissed off and asked how I could agree to take up a role in risk when I had come to interview for a sales and marketing position. I told him that I was looking for a career, not a job. So the entry point didn’t really matter. I also told him that I actually understd why he was offering me a position in risk — because there weren’t too many people who understood risk with a sales and marketing empathy and mindset. Pramod later told me that was what clinched the job for me.
By 1998, I was CEO of the GE Capital Consumer businesses in India, I was evaluating a move to one of the global offices in GE — Hong Kong or Chicago — and all positions in risk. Pramod called me out for lunch. He said, “I have an idea, why don’t you run GECIS?” It was run by Raman Roy at that time. He told me to build a team and scale up the business. It would grow from the 200 people back then to 3,000 people over the next five years and I would be dealing with the CEO, CFO, CIO and COO of all of GE’s businesses and that could be my global experience. I took the offer, how can one not, but refused to move personally to Delhi. Pramod said that’s my problem and for me to figure out, and I could live wherever I wanted to. Within three years, we were 7,000 people and in five years time, we moved up to 12,