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Aruna Rao: CTO, Kotak Mahindra Bank and Group Companies

March 20, 2018

Aruna Rao: CTO, Kotak Mahindra Bank and ...

Aruna Rao, chief technology officer (CTO), Kotak Mahindra Bank and group companies, believes that the banking sector has multiple technology options to choose from on both the payments and the lending sides. “On the payments side, new technologies such as near field connectivity, QR codes and biometrics are available for devices. Simultaneously, there are a whole set of new payment networks at the backend,” she says.

In the lending space, Rao sees a lot of potential in terms of online credit decision-making that helps determine customers’ creditworthiness and arrive at faster and more accurate decisions on loan approvals, etc. However, there are several challenges involved in the adoption of new technologies in the banking sector, she adds. These include reskilling and upgrading workforce capabilities, governance issues given the accelerated rate of release of new technologies, and cybersecurity challenges.

A technology expert, Rao was group head of corporate banking technology at Citigroup Software, after which she has been with Kotak for over a decade. At Kotak, her responsibilities involve outlining the technology strategy for the bank, implementing new technologies and the overall governance framework for technology. Rao is also part of several industry forums, serves on the advisory panel of various technology councils, contributes to the Computer Society of India, Mumbai chapter, and serves as jury for mentoring initiatives like the Next 100 CIOs.

Rao believes in giving her best to all her assignments. However, a few assignments remain closest to her heart. The  development of a cash management system while she was with Citibank is one of them. The solution, which was initially intended for India, was later implemented in 10 countries across Europe as well. More recently, the merger of technology systems for the erstwhile ING Vysya Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank Limited was an exciting challenge.

Rao’s management style involves enabling each person in her team to excel. “Some work more creatively with independence; others need guidance and structure,” she says.

Rao has a master’s in computer information systems from the University of Maryland and an MBA from Gujarat University. In her spare time, she likes to spend time with her family, which comprises her husband and their daughter. A theatre enthusiast, she enjoys movies as well. She also enjoys a bit of gardening and grows plants, herbs and some vegetables in her home garden.

 
 

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