Axis Bank Taps Egon Zehnder to Replace Outgoing Leader

Axis Bank Egon Zehnder Leader

April 27, 2018 – Mumbai, India-based Axis Bank has enlisted executive recruitment firm Egon Zehnder to find its next chief executive officer. Shikha Sharma, who has headed India’s third largest private lender since 2009, had recently asked the bank board to shorten her term to the end of December.

Originally, Ms. Sharma’s term was to have ended in June, but last summer Axis reappointed her into 2021. The Reserve Bank of India, however, was unhappy with Axis Bank’s growing number of non-performing assets, which had multiplied in recent years, and declined to approve the extension. In the end, Shikha Sharma’s request for an extension until the end of the year was approved.

The search is expected to be completed by the time of her departure.

Previous Engagement

Prasad Menon, an independent director who is also chairman of the Axis Bank nomination committee, is heading the bank’s part in the search, according to India news outlet BloombergQuint.

Last summer, before Ms. Sharma’s reappointment, Egon Zehnder was also named to find the next CEO, but the bank explained that it was part of its process and did not necessarily mean there would be a change in management.

Egon Zehnder is no stranger to Axis Bank. The leadership provider, in fact, placed Ms. Sharma into the top role. That search included senior executive candidates from Indian and multinational firms in the finance sector.

A Leading Bank

Axis Bank offers a comprehensive suite of financial products. It has 3,300 branches, over 13,000 ATMs and nine international offices. It employs over 50,000 people and has a market capitalization of $16 billion.

Egon Zehnder’s global wholesale and investment banking practice works closely with international and regional banks and advisory firms to address executive hiring needs and support strategic assessment and development of individual leaders and teams. It has more than 45 consultants worldwide who are serving clients in this sector, advising boards, CEOs and executives on industry-specific leadership strategies, and are career advisors to many top professionals in the industry.

The firm has recently recruited a number of leaders for banks. Last year, Egon Zehnder placed Christos Megalou as CEO of Piraeus Bank. Mr. Megalou more than satisfied the organization’s requirement of having at least 10 years of experience in a senior role abroad. He spent 15 years in investment banking at Credit Suisse Group AG prior to joining Eurobank in 2013.

The National Bank of Greece (NBG) not long ago selected the firm to lead its hunt for a new chairman. The new chair must have a good understanding of the regulatory, legal and economic environment in which the bank operates. That includes the ability to efficiently interact with various stakeholders (HFSF, for example, as well as other shareholders, the European Commission, regulators, other official or private sector institutions) and the media.

Banks Turn to Search Firms

Financial services organizations are facing a new competitive landscape, regulatory challenges and a constant struggle to manage cost and efficiency. This requires strategic leaders with a multidimensional skill-set. Like all financial institutions, banks continue to turn to executive recruitment firms to find new leaders. Here’s a sampling of some important recent searches that are either underway or recently completed, from the Hunt Scanlon Media archives:

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, one of the most high-profile positions in the U.S. Federal Reserve System, has named John C. Williams as its new president and CEO. He replaces William C. Dudley, who is retiring in June. Recruitment firms Spencer Stuart and Bridge Partners led the assignment. 

Korn Ferry recruited Doug Bowers as president and CEO of Banc of California. Most recently, Mr. Bowers was president and CEO of Square 1 Bank from 2011 until its sale to PacWest Bancorp. From 2009 to 2011, he served as a managing director of Lone Star Funds/ Hudson Advisors.

Chrisman & Company placed Carl J. Chaney as CEO of New Orleans-headquartered First NBC Bank. Longtime leader and founder Ashton Ryan Jr. has stepped aside as CEO. Mr. Ryan will continue on as president. Founding partner and principal Timothy Chrisman led the search along with partner Irwin Stalk.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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