Ajaypal Singh Banga
An entirely India-educated financial analyst, Ajaypal Singh Banga, known as Ajay Banga is the current president and CEO of MasterCard Inc, the ubiquitous financial company. He succeeded Robert W. Selander in July, 2010, who was previously MasterCard’s chief executive officer since March,1997. Banga was born into a Sikh family in Khadki outside Pune, Maharashtra in India. The family’s origin is from Jalandhar in Punjab. He is also the younger brother of another well known CEO M. S. Banga.
Belonging to an army background, he grew up and was schooled across India, successively in Secunderabad, Jalandhar, Delhi, Hyderabad and in Shimla, where he finished his schooling. He went on to graduate with a B.A. degree in Economics from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University and MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. Banga stands as an entirely India-minted executive who has climbed the echelons of an international company, while others like Vikram Pandit (CitiGroup) and Indra Nooyi (PepsiCo.) have U.S. degrees in addition to the ones they earned in India.
Banga started his career at Nestle India as a management trainee in 1981 and spent the next 13 years of his career holding a variety of assignments spanning sales, marketing and general management. He later joined PepsiCo’s Restaurants Division, where he was instrumental in the launch of Pizza Hut and KFC in India due to liberalisation of economy.
He joined CitiGroup in 1996 as the head of marketing in India for the consumer business and served in a variety of positions of increasing responsibility. These included chairman and chief executive officer of the International Global Consumer Group; president of Retail Banking North America; business head for CitiFinancial and the U.S. Consumer Assets Division and division executive for the consumer bank in central/eastern Europe, Middle East, Africa and India.
After that, he joined MasterCard. Apart from the job at MasterCard, Banga serves on the board of Kraft Foods Inc. , Asia Society, chairman of the US-India Business Council, is a member of the council on Foreign Relations, The Financial Services Roundtable and The Economic Club of New York and is also a fellow of the Foreign Policy Association. Banga was vice-chairman of the board of trustees of the New York Hall of Science and a board member of the National Urban League. He was formerly a business sponsor of Citi’s African heritage network. He worked with one of his best clients to find a way to get more youth to use debit cards. As a result, he redesigned the debit card product with its package of features, connecting it to music and created a whole new marketing approach with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
Within the last five years, Mr Banga has also served on the boards of trustees of Enterprise Community Partners, Inc., the National Urban League and the New York Hall of Science and was a director of the Council for Economic Education. Banga has a keen interest in social development issues and was named by ‘The Economic Times of India’ as the fourth “Most Powerful Indian” in the world.