The Boss

Uday Kotak

The Kotak Mahindra Bank MD is a promoter who merrily embraced maximum 'other promoters'

Photographs by Soumik Kar

Education: MBA from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies 

Career: In 1985, set up Kotak Capital Management Finance which eventually transformed into Kotak Mahindra Finance, which then would become the first NBFC to convert into a bank. It is today the country’s fourth largest private sector bank and has a market cap of $20 billion.

First June, 1988. It was Shekhar Iyer’s first day of work at Kotak Capital Management Finance in Navsari building on Mumbai’s DN Road. As Shekhar came in at 9.30 am, his immediate boss Shivaji Dam took him to a room that had a long table and showed him his seat. The room was cramped with files. Udaybhai who was the big boss called him over and patiently explained the firm’s business and his role. Shekhar’s prime responsibility was to get bills stamped, deposit high-value cheques and maintain a filing record of all bills.

A few days passed and Shekhar mustered enough courage to go to the big boss to say: “Udaybhai, I have a lot of file work to do and I need an independent table.” To which Udaybhai said: “The table we have right now is quite long. We will cut it and you can have one portion for yourself.” Thereafter, every time someone new joined, the table was cut and a portion given. A few days later, Shekhar said: “Udaybhai, there is no light around my seat. Can we put a tube light closer to my seat?” Udaybhai responded: “Okay, let me see.” After a few days, Shekhar pointed out: “Udaybhai, we have too many files lying around here. I need a shelf so that everything is kept safely.” Udaybhai repeats: “Okay, let me think.” Nothing happens for days, so Shekhar approaches Udaybhai’s wife Pallavi, who works in the same office. Pallavi asks Udaybhai: “sukaam naa paade? (Why are you refusing?)” Udaybhai finally says, “Okay.”

While Shekhar settled down at work, his woes were not over. He was looking to get married but with not much luck. In those days without Facebook and Tinder or online matrimony, south Indian marriages were pre-dominantly ‘arranged’ and the girl’s parents would

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