End of an Era: N Vaghul, Banker who built ICICI Brand, Dies at 88

End of an Era: N Vaghul, Banker who built ICICI Brand, Dies at 88

End of an Era: N Vaghul, Banker who built ICICI Brand, Dies at 88

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The demise of N Vaghul, a visionary in the Indian banking industry, at the age of 88 marks the end of an era. Known for his pioneering contributions, Vaghul reshaped the landscape of banking and finance in India, leaving an indelible mark on the sector.

Survived by his wife, son, and daughter, Vaghul passed away at Apollo Hospital in Chennai, where he was admitted after a fall. His legacy, however, transcends his mortal presence, with his profound impact on institutions and individuals alike.

At the helm of ICICI, India’s second-largest bank by market capitalization, Vaghul steered the institution to unprecedented heights. 

Under his leadership, ICICI evolved from a traditional development finance institution to a dynamic banking powerhouse. His strategic foresight and bold decisions during tumultuous times, such as the balance of payments crisis, laid the foundation for India’s economic reforms.

Vaghul’s tenure witnessed groundbreaking initiatives, including the merger of ICICI with ICICI Bank and the establishment of India’s first credit rating agency, Crisil. He championed gender-neutral meritocracy, fostering a culture of diversity and inclusivity in the financial sector. 

His keen eye for talent and unwavering support for young professionals, including the likes of K V Kamath and Shikha Sharma, shaped the future of Indian banking.

One of his lasting contributions as a leader was democratising the process of management and bringing in transparency. 

He believed in the greater good of the country and its progress as a nation; his thinking was not limited by the growth of ICICI or its balance sheet or even the banking sector. He was deeply affected by the passing away of Aditya Vikram Birla whom he admired greatly and who he felt could have gone on to do great things for the country. 

Tributes poured in from across the nation, with leaders and luminaries acknowledging Vaghul’s unparalleled contributions. RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das hailed him as a visionary, while Anand Mahindra, Chairman of Mahindra & Mahindra, described him as a titan of Indian business. Jairam Ramesh, of the Congress party, fondly remembered Vaghul’s wonderful sense of humor, underscoring his enduring legacy beyond the realm of banking.

In the annals of Indian banking history, N Vaghul will be remembered as more than a banker; he was a transformative leader who inspired generations and left an indelible imprint on the nation’s financial landscape.