HDFC Life on Wednesday appointed Vibha Padalkar as its new MD & CEO for a tenure of three years. A chartered accountant from London, Padalkar has been instrumental in listing of HDFC Life at a smashing high valuation of close to Rs 95,000 crore.
Padalkar, along with the top team, has been credited for transforming the life insurance major in the last one decade. Padalkar's elevation comes after Amitabh Chaudhry quit from his position to lead country's third largest private lender.
"Based on the recommendation of the Nomination & Remuneration Committee, the Board of Directors have appointed Ms Vibha Padalkar, as the Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer of the Company for period of 3 years commencing from September 12, 2018," the private insurer told the stock exchanges.
In a career spanning two-and-a-half decades, Padalkar has seamlessly moved across industries as diverse as auditing and FMCG to BPM and life insurance.
While talking to Business Today before she was elevated to the role of CEO & MD, Padalkar said, "It is easy to grow in life insurance if you are willing to sacrifice margins. But HDFC Life has been focused on growth with profitability."
"We will not hesitate to pull the plug on products that don't make profit for us," she had said.
HDFC Life's premium income, profit after tax and assets under management have been growing at 16-20 per cent a year over the last three years.
Padalkar thinks that retirement is a big issue in the coming years. "People are living longer. Your savings will outlive you," she had warned, adding, "The retirement issue is more serious than dying prematurely. An average Indian is yet to realise the avalanche that is coming his or her way."
For HDFC Life, the focus on protection policies, health plans and retirement solutions has been paying rich dividends. The share of protection business has gone up from 7.3 per cent three years ago to 18.2 per cent in the first quarter of the year.
As a custodian of public money after listing on the bourses, Padalkar has set high standards for disclosure and transparency. "We will continue to do the right things. Investors should have faith in us," she had said, adding that "we will not chase quarter to quarter numbers."
Padalkar is a known expert in listing companies on exchanges. HDFC Life hired her in 2008 after she had listed WNS on the New York Stock Exchange. But then, the global financial crisis and regulatory revamp of the insurance sector hit the company's IPO plans.
"There has never been a single day when I have not been busy. There is always something happening internally or externally that has kept me occupied for the past eight years," Padalkar had told Business Today last year.
Padalkar is also credited with mitigating risk by starting two subsidiaries. The first was the pension business, which was started in 2012 and at the end of March 31, 2017, had assets of around Rs 1,162 crore. The other was the overseas business in Dubai to cater to Indians based in the Gulf region.