A seasoned veteran of the banking and finance sector, with an enriching experience of over three decades in the Middle East, Dr. Raghavan Seetharaman, the Chief Executive Officer of the Doha Bank Group, is a man who is grounded into the realities of the world BY RICHA SANG
Amultifaceted personality, Dr. R Seetharaman, is a prominent name in the banking industry throughout the Middle East, an economic expert who has achieved remarkable success for his contributions to Banking, Trade, Investment, Economics, Environment, Social responsibility, Philanthropy and Charity. A Gold medallist in Commerce at the graduation level, Dr. Seetharaman is a seasoned Chartered Accountant and holds certificate in IT systems and Corporate Management. A recipient of PhDs in Global Governance from European University and in Green Banking and Sustainability from Sri Sri University, Dr. Seetharaman is a scholar in the true sense of the word. However, these qualifications are just the tip of the iceberg, as he has also acquired multiple doctorates from leading universities of the world namely Doctorate of Laws by Washington College for his unique and valuable contribution to society in the field of banking and knowledge management, Doctorate of Honoris Causa from European University for his contribution to global governance and social responsibility and Doctor of Philosophy (Honorary) by Arts, Science and Technology University, Lebanon (AUL) for his valuable contribution to Banking and Finance.
Dr. Seetharaman’s goals have not been limited to acquisition of knowledge but he has efficiently utilized his passion for technology, as he himself puts it, “Although my academic training was in accounting and finance, technology was my passion. I saw the important role that technology was about to play in transforming society, and wanted to be a part of that. So I gained the knowledge and skills needed to use technology to help transform in the field of banking and financial services. I also invested my time mainly in integrating people, process and technology and actively contributed to value engineering.”
Dr. Seetharaman introduced a plethora of changes at Doha Bank affecting a variety of spheres, including everything from moving the bank away from a wholesale philosophy to catering to its retail market clients and to making it the frontrunner in Qatar in terms of bringing about advanced web and mobile banking solutions for its customers.
Dwelling on his strategies of success at Doha Bank, Dr. Seetharaman explains, “In my earlier assignment as head of technology operations, I had experimented as such with customer-centric values that triggered improvement in the market share. So it was easy for me to come to Doha Bank with conviction and transform the institution, especially in a market that was just getting set. The supportive market, the vision of the board, and the experience we had all converged to deliver on the journey.”
FROM LOCAL TO GLOBAL
Prioritizing on transforming Doha Bank from being a Qatari bank to one with a more global presence, Dr. Seetharaman asserts, “Unless you go global, being a local bank, the opportunities are limited.” He lucidly elaborates the way in which he initiated this transformation, “We started redefining the strategic options for the bank. When the local market has become global, we have to go global. So apart from strengthening the local market operations and improving the retail, wholesale, corporate and overall operation efficiency of the bank, I started thinking about redefining its international presence.” Thus, bent on achieving this goal with single-minded dedication, Dr. Seetharaman initiated the process of expansion of Doha Bank from its base in Qatar to other Gulf nations like the Kuwait, alongside the set-up of the bank’s representative offices in countries like Japan, Singapore, Turkey, South Korea, China and several others.
Not only realizing the importance of new ways of thinking, and executing those innovative ideas, but also focusing on the practicality and feasibility of those innovations, Dr. Seetharaman states “Irrespective of your considered vision, you have to produce the earnings.” He further adds, “No shareholder is going to give you a free lunch, unless you have responsible returns coming in. So you have to produce maximum returns to shareholders, which we managed to achieve.”
Owing to Dr. Seetharaman’s exemplary leadership and visionary insight, Doha Bank has been transformed into a global brand, with sterling performances year-on-year and has emerged as one of the best performing banks in the region, and experienced unparalleled growth. Not surprisingly, Dr. Seetharaman himself has emerged as an icon in the banking industry and is looked upon with awe and respect by the stalwarts.
BOLSTERING SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Being an avid admirer of the environment, Dr. Seetharaman is actively engaged in creating awareness about issues such as climate change – the cause, effects and measures; need for a global community that is aware of and inclined to finding solutions to global issues on a global scale. Committed to innovation and justifiably proud of his green initiatives, he declares, “To me the exercise of corporate social responsibility is a key to ensure the long-term sustainability of an institution. We started by making Doha Bank the first green bank in the region. We made sure Doha Bank operated at low emission facilities. Our bank buildings became LED certified and we operated energy efficient vehicles and equipment.” No wonder, Doha bank is considered a model for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), as explicit by the recognition it has gathered in terms of the innumerable global awards conferred on it.
Churning out a perfect blend of technology and sustainable development measures, Dr. Seetharaman “introduced paperless banking and Internet banking.” He elaborates his environment-friendly approach effectively, “We introduced a service called the Doha Souq where all customers could electronically access our products and services. We enabled our customers to use technology to provide remittances to their families overseas. We came to be known as a low carbon institution and gained great respect in the community for our efforts.”
AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS
The relentless dedication of Dr. Seetharaman has not went unnoticed & he has been recognized at varied platforms, most distinguished being the Government of India’s prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award [PBSA], the highest honour conferred on overseas Indians by the Government of India. In addition, he has recently received the “Global Excellence Award in Renewable Energy, 2017” by the Energy and Environment Foundation for his vision, leadership, outstanding contribution and for demonstrating excellence in the Renewable energy sector.