The present CEO of IIFCL Projects Limited (infrastructure advisory subsidiary of IIFCL), Deepak Chatterjee started his career with the State Bank of India (SBI) in 1978. Since then, he has garnered experience in various fields including merchant banking, international banking and credit. After a stint abroad and a tenure in SBI Caps, he became MD and CEO of SBI Mutual Fund. Describing his association with SBI, Chatterjee says, “SBI offered a lot of learning. All the assignments have been extraordinarily rewarding, with the most enriching being at SBI Caps and SBI Mutual Fund.”
Chatterjee sees his present job as an enabler in crucial infrastructure investment decisions. “If India is to keep growing at 8 per cent-plus rates, the single factor that could work as a major impediment is our creaking infrastructure. The entire cycle, starting from ideation, project structuring, advisory to financial closure, is vital, and presents my company with huge opportunities to participate in this game-changing infrastructure build-up,” he says. Chatterjee believes that the coming years will be key for infrastructure financing. Traditional sources of financing are going to be replaced by new ones. Once the challenges are overcome, infrastructure financing could look very different and yet, less challenging.
Modest in his approach, Chatterjee prefers to be a leader rather than a boss, delegating work so that the best can be extracted out of people. But he embraces the premise that the buck stops at his table.
Being asked about his strengths and weaknesses, Chatterjee says, “My strength flows from my long years at SBI. Having belonged to India’s largest lender family, size or scale has never daunted me. Ironically, my weakness stems from my strength – I feel diffident when I see the size of IIFCL’s balance sheet. I wish it was 20-50 times what it is. I wish IIFCL was allowed to do underwriting as well. A beginning has been made with the company now allowed to lead lending syndicates.”
Chatterjee has a degree in Physics from Delhi University (DU) followed by an MBA from the Faculty of Management Studies, Delhi. He has also done an M.Sc. and is a certified associate of the Indian Institute of Bankers. Chatterjee’s wife teaches in DU. He has two daughters who are married and settled in their respective professions. An admirer of nature, he enjoys dabbling in photography and music. He focuses a lot on seeking non-religious spiritual happiness. His book, Are You Really Happy? won the 2014 Eric Hofer Award in the US.