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A Life Dedicated to Progress

Shiv B. Singh is Executive Director at Indian Bank, is a career banker having a wide variety of experiences in banking. He has put together several narratives and the learnings from those in his autobiography “Banker by Chance, Leader by Choice.’

Shiv covers a wide range of topics including business, technology, risk, mergers, etc, but the maximum emphasis seems to be on human resources. He has dedicated one chapter to it, in which he dwells into recruitment, promotions, transfers, deputations, training, wage settlement, pension, etc. In a story format, he covers the challenges as well as the solutions, and how he himself navigated thought the system and made his contributions.

One chapter that is sure to raise your heartbeat is titled ‘The Value of Change.’ Shiv covers his experiences in handling unions, the tensions that confrontation created and how he valued bank policies over making adjustments to please various sections within the bank. Notably, when threatened with physical violence, he was offered police protection, which is humbly refused.

Shiv espouses mutual trust, reciprocity and transparency as the basis for interaction between management and unions, both of which he sees as pillars of the organization.

In the same chapter, Shiv discusses the positive side of change. He describes Manthan project which was a foundation for transformation that led to notable growth.

The earlier chapters of the book are focused on his childhood and early career days, laying a foundation for the evolution ahead.

Shiv says that brand is what provides trust, uniqueness and differentiation from competitors. He has devoted a chapter on brand building in this book. Shiv narrates an incident where a district magistrate refused an invite to be the chief guest at a function because he felt the RRB was too small an organization. This gave Shiv the motivation to build brand value for the bank and he got overwhelming support from employees at all levels who were delighted to see their bank appearing in print and on TV and radio. Shiv personally drove the project and ensured that ministers, judges, bureaucrats, police officers, army officers, and other similar notable people were regularly invited to functions organized by the bank.

In the last chapter, Shiv reflects on his journey and shares his 7-point philosophy: (i) Develop your own self (ii) Develop resourcefulness (iii) Courageous & Decisive (iv) Integrity (v) Communication (vi) Discipline & empathy (vii) Customer centricity.

The author’s biography is sprinkled with wise quotes from notable leaders like Satya Nadella, Lee Iacocca, Mae West, Tom Peters and many others. Those quotes fit in nicely and add further value to the narrative.

Overall, I find this an insightful autobiography, and some parts of it are definitely worth reading once again – for the engrossing narrative and for the inspiration.

Thank you to Shiv for putting so much together in just 216 pages.

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