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From Trainees to CEOs: The Journey of India's Top Executives India's top C-level executives have learnt from doing the smallest of jobs and even from rejection

By Sanchita Dash

You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.


When they walk into events or conferences today, people get up and make space for them. But there was a time, when these people would walk into rooms quietly and with much difficulty find a chair to sit on. This is the story of many of India's top CEOs today, who have built their name and fame in the industry even though they started from scratch.

For a boy or a girl fresh out of college, it is often difficult to find a job where they feel valuable. However, what they do find is an experience where they learn and take their baby steps. It then depends upon the persistence of the employee, which takes them to greater heights. Going by this mantra, India's top C-level executives have learnt from doing the smallest of jobs and even from rejection.

Entrepreneur India takes a look at the Indian CEOs who started bottom down of the pyramid.

Ajay Banga

Today, he is known to everyone as the visionary CEO of Mastercard, but Ajay Banga too started small in the industry. In 1981, he joined Nestle as a management trainee and continued to work there for over 13 years. At a speech he gave at IIM-A, his alma mater, Banga has been reported to have said, "When I graduated, I was all of 21, green behind the ears—if you could find them. And I had no clue what I was going to do with my life: Other than join a great global firm Nestle." From Nestle to PepsiCo to Citibank to Mastercard, today, he is also the president of USIBIC (US India Business Council), which is a body that represents over three hundred key Global Companies investing in India.

Archana Bhargava

This dynamic leader made headlines when she she resigned from her post as the MD and CEO of United Bank of India. Archana Bhargava, who has been embroiled in controversies of corruption and was also known to have reported to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) about thousands of crores of unreported sticky loans, had humble beginnings too. Her 37-year-old career had started as a management trainee at Punjab National Bank.

Arundhati Bhattacharya

She had once dreamed of being a print journalist, but as fate would have it, Arundhati Bhattacharya found herself in the banking industry, after her father's retirement. Taking the State Bank of India exams on a whim with her college mates, she was selected and became a probationary officer. She then rose her ranks in the bank and went on to become the Chairperson of SBI. Her recent retirement from the post, had many asking about what she'll be upto next. Bhattacharya, who still hopes to pen a book one day also wants to do a PhD in banking.

Ramesh Dungarmal Tainwala

Rejections often leave us worried and disheartened, but that wasn't the case with Ramesh Dungarmal Tainwala. According to reports, when his application for the post of a management trainee at VIP industries was rejected, it didn't hold him back, instead he continued to grow his career as a vendor of VIP. And today, he is the CEO of Samsonite International.

Rana Kapoor

One of India's most successful banker billionaires, YES BANK's Rana Kapoor started his journey as an intern at Citibank. An MBA graduate from the US, Kapoor then went on to work as a trainee in the IT department of Citibank, New York. Having learnt from his global experience, Kapoor came back to India and set up Yes Bank in 2003

Chanda Kochhar

Her banking journey started as a management trainee, but not many could stop Chanda Kochhar's rise in ICICI Bank. The first female MD-CEO of the bank can also be easily called one of the most successful ones and she has many achievements in her glorious career to prove the same.

Sanchita Dash

Entrepreneur Staff

Former Senior Correspondent, Entrepreneur India

In the business of news for 5 years now. Making my way across India thanks to my career. A media graduate from Symbiosis, Pune, I have earlier worked with Deccan Chronicle (South India's leading English daily), T-Hub (India's largest incubator) and Anthill Ventures (a speed-scaling platform). 

Stories, movies and PJs are my thing. 

If you hear 'The Office' opening score randomly, don't worry it's just my phone ringing. 


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