Aditya Puri: A Good Banker, a Not-so-good Boss

3 06 2009


Little is known about HDFC Bank and the people behind it. It is a highly successful and profitable new generation bank in the private sector. It came alongside ICICI Bank and at several points in time, the market capitalization of HDFC Bank has been higher than that of ICICI Bank and SBI.


Since inception Aditya Puri has been the MD of HDFC Bank and has been steering the bank, through times, good and bad, successfully. The bank has been growing 30% year-on-year for the last 15 years and has one of the lowest NPAs in the business. In spite of the absence of home loans ( as it is the preserve of its promoter HDFC Ltd) , the bank has a strong retail business. HDFC Bank and Aditya Puri have got legions of awards for this success.


The media is yet to put up the spotlight on  Aditya Puri as a person and his managerial style. Today’s Business Standard carries an interesting piece on him titled ‘ A Lifelong Pursuit of Leisure’ Given below are excerpts from interview, which gives an insight into the persona and the managerial style of Aditya Puri:


“The man, who has just been voted India’s best CEO in Finance Asia magazine’s annual poll of investors and analysts, says his management mantra has been inspired by a cartoon he saw in one foreign newspaper. One half of the cartoon showed the boss neck-deep in work while others outside were having a whale of a time. The other half showed the boss taking a nap while others were all glued to their computers.


“I am sure you know which half of the cartoon is my favourite,” the HDFC Bank MD and CEO says, ordering a lassi. Puri must be the only CEO in the world who doesn’t carry a mobile or laptop; leaves office at 5:30 pm sharp; doesn’t work on weekends, giving him enough time to grow exotic vegetables & fruits at his Lonavla farmhouse; takes at least one long annual leave; and skips networking dinners to pursue other interests such as listening to music and reading.

He has recently added one more must to his daily routine: Talking non-stop to his 10-month-old grandson whenever he is around. “Both of us understand each other’s language perfectly,” Puri says with a hearty laugh   

He may not carry his laptop or mobile, but he comes across as quite a hands-on man and a control freak.


Despite the distance he keeps from back-breaking work, Puri says he knows exactly what is happening at each of the bank’s 1,400-plus branches. “If there is an over-withdrawal of cash at some branch, the information reaches me within an hour — wherever I am. For that, you don’t need cell phones; you only need to put proper systems in place.”

Aditya Puri clearly values his leisure, but not necessarily that of his employees. I have heard from a cousin who used to work for HDFC Bank for several years in the accounts department. He used to have a 12 hour work schedule for large part of his year. Add to that 3 hours of commute in Mumbai and there was no life left at all. During accounts closing every quarter he would not come home for seven days at a stretch. He used to pack off his wife and kid to his in-laws’ house during accounts closing time. He was short of hands in his department and there was a lot of churn also, yet to manage costs, there were never enough people to do the work. If he would crib about this, he was clearly indicated by no less than Aditya Puri that if he was unable to cope, he had the option to leave. After his health got worse with all the stress, he decided to change his employer.


Aditya Puri has managed to strike a great work-life balance, but cares little for his people’s work-life balance. Because, if they also have a great work-life balance, then the company performance will suffer and Mr Puri cannot get those awards and rising stock prices. Mr Puri recently indicated in an interview, that he was not averse to getting another five-year term.


Contrast this with Jim Goodnight, the CEO of SAS Institute, an US based software company in the data mining and data warehousing business, revered all across the globe. Fast Company describes Mr. Goodnight’s highly successful management style as :


“Jim Goodnight is not a guy who notices management fads or worries much about outside criticism. He lives the way he wants his employees to live. He goes home around 5 p.m. (at which point SAS’s automated switchboard starts answering the phone, “Most of SAS Institute is closed at this time . . .”). He refrains from checking email when he’s away from the office.”


Both Mr. Puri and Mr. Goodnight value their leisure and understand work-life balance. Yet, the difference cannot be more striking when it comes to their policies for the employees.


Mr Puri’s arrogance also shows when he says “Besides, I have reached a stage in life where I don’t have to network any longer; people need to network with me.” Probably here, he is taking a dig at his boss Deepak Parekh who is well-known for his networking skills. I would always have more respect for a person like Deepak Parekh, who uses his network and knowledge to contribute to India (UTI, Satyam etc)  rather than an Aditya Puri, who values his leisure so much and yet wants to hold on to the top job, to enjoy the perks and privileges that come with it.


Would you work for a workaholic boss, who does not understand work-life balance and expects his employees to emulate him or would you work for a manager like Aditya Puri who manages his own work-life balance so beautifully, but cares two -hoots for his people’s work-life balance? Both are bad choices, but at least the former boss cannot be accused of double standards.


Now tell  me, would you give your best for a boss like Mr. Goodnight or Mr. Puri?


–   G. Mohan




31 responses

11 04 2011
Jasdeep Mandia

well written.
just imagine a case when all the HDFC’s employees start doing this. But not everyone has so much of freedom to do this.

3 05 2011
ex-HDFC banker

I agree with each and every word written here.
Working with HDFC bank was one “Hellish” exp. in my life.
If Aditya Puri knows what happens to cash in each and every branch, is he not supposed to know what happens to the employees? Or he very well knows it and smartly ignores it.
My day at HDFC bank would start at 9:15 am and would end at 10:15 pm. Add to that 2.5 hrs of travelling. “You are not efficient if you are working that long” was one cold response we used to get. Going by that, even if superman was employed he would be proved as inefficient. At least 5 times a day we used to be told that we were the most inefficient species on earth. At times I thought am I an employee or a slave?
I think the concept of “I’ll enjoy life coz I am the boss, you slog coz you are the subordinate” percolates down the hierarchy in the Bank.My branch mgr behaved in the same way.Offloading the work to the juniors, Not assuming responsibility seems to the DNA of the HDFC Bank mgmt.
I think that is the reason of high attrition in HDFC bank. A regular complaint of my branch customers was “why we have to deal with new people after every 3-4 months?”
HDFC bank may be the best for its customers but its worst for its employees….

24 07 2013

It is not best for its customer as well… they are like a bunch of cheats… who charge not immediately after transaction is done but slowly then put the charges one fine days… and since the amount is small enough, customer will most like not remember and he will think it is valid charges.. I asked them y they not send sms when amount is deducted for charges? because it will bring them to front page and customer will notice… beware of them

20 03 2015

I totally agree with you. It doesn’t treat employees well.I am holding job in the same company (hbl), our seniors treat us like slaves. No respect for juniors. No respect for freshers.

27 09 2011

Dear Friend,

I am also an ex HDFC Banker and do have a clear difference of opinion with you. Why should we be jealous to Mr. Puri, who is enjoying his Personal Life? If he had given that luxury to all the 55000 employees of the bank, do you think that Bank will be able to grow at 30 -40% Year on Year and generate such whooping Net Profit of 4000 crores within a short span of just 16 years. HDFC Bank & Mr. Aditya Puri are doing 100% justice to Share Holders of the Bank. More over, he is not asking any person to work for HDFC Bank under Gun Point. Any employee is at his/her liberty to leave the Bank by serving just a 90 days notice period.

I am very proud to say that I am an ex employee of HDFC Bank & a preferred customer of the bank.

9 10 2013

I agree with Alex.

26 02 2012
Kabir Singh

The worst Employer in the world… treats employees like slaves…
Thoose days are far off when such an attitude is going to cost HDFC Bank…
Naam Bade Aur Darshan Chote…

25 03 2012

HDFC Bank is a good bank but a bad employer. Management system is very poor. All are into making strategy. Everybody is her own boss.

27 03 2012
Srikanth K

Does anybody know how much Mr. Puri must have worked during his early stages in banks? We can also work like him and can become CEOs and MDs of other banks and can enjoy life as per your wish. Running such a bank with precision is a herculean task and requires lot of stress- management.
It is not important, how many hours you have worked. But it counts how effectively and efficiently you have worked.
Instead of criticising successful people, try to follow them as they have proved that they are great.

– Srikanth K, Ex- HDFC Employee

2 05 2012
An Ex Employee

Wonder why the all praises for HDFC Bank have come only from ex-employees?

29 05 2012
Former Employee

I have worked in hdfc bank and I don’t have good memories of it. It doesn’t treat its employees well.

21 06 2012

I’m a current employee of hdfc bank. This is a terrible place to work with–9:15 to 11:15 is the work timing–then also–it is not finished–supervisor asks to take woke home–TAT can not be compromised–in audit he says i dont know why the hell this fella was working at home so late in night 2:30–3:30–i was working for the bank–in return i got nothing but —–.life is a misery–my previous employer was citibank same as mr puri–citi cares for the employees–one of the finest organisation to work for–one is not incompetent that he has to work so late and still work is pending–it is because 1 person who was doing 20 files a day in 2005–the same person is doing 55 files a day–now where would the same efficiency come from?–he is helpless–boss is only to delegate things and go back home on time–he has made process such that his 1 down at any cost can not leave office on time–now as per bank process last batch of file comes at 4:30 with 20 files from cpa how the hell credit manager can go at 5:30,but his boss can go because he has made this process–credit such an important department is so stressed that his life is hell–sales business entity for Mr. Puri is king and making him fool–sm has targets(incentives) for log in of files & no targets for amount & quality–all garbage files are login with payment made to hbl & SM irrespective of its decision–for approved files no 1 is taking responsibility to get the disbursal done after all this finally would yield revenue.–this place is hell–people high up only know how to shed responcibility to subordinates and enjoy and then later on scold for dely which is not his work–all perks incentives are for AVP and above–rest all mango employees are crushed in a machine called HDFC Bank–why a sales person gets incentive on monthly/qtrly basis as per complition of targets when his counterpart in credit works all day to achieve that target gets the dry salary–other thing for incentive of sales he has to acchive his targets and he is entitled for incentive–but his counterpart will get bonus at the end of year and that too depends on the mercy of his supervisor–how come my supervisor is getting rating 1 & full bonus when under him all credit manager are getting 3-4 as rating?intresting–this is the story of HDFC Bank–i’m waiting to complete 1 year and then i will fly.

21 06 2012

Boss asks for data on his personal id–asks to take work at home–gives approval for working on Sunday–issues memo with cc to hr for emergency leave–keeps on sending SMS late at night reminding of work & consequences if not completed on morning–sends SMS asking data on his personal ID–i have proof of the same on my phone–sms of supervisor late at night–on Sunday–on public holiday–asking for work–data–how the hell he expect me to send data to him when im at home at 9:30 night–either he thinks that i should be at office working–or if im at home then also why im not working? this bank was my dream–but it shattered the day i joined–mr puri is nothing but a citi banker at heart till now even though he is working for HDFC–coz only citi bankers can talk of family and socializing–and not HDFC employee–that is the bitter truth.

22 06 2012

I also have been an ex-employee of the bank, I used to start my day @ 8:30 am and end after 9-9:30 and even 11. 12 sometimes, still you have lot of work to be done. Again you suddenly get the mail on Saturday late evening asking for data by Monday morning. The mail doesnt say you need to work on Sunday but from where would the data reach on Monday morning, thats understood. No way you can avoid working on Sundays. Every hour you need to update about the business generated, you keep on getting calls from the bosses on the same. I cant imagine the life style of those employees on cash counters, life is horrible for them. They are the first to come to the office and last to leave. May God save them. If we were not overpopulated nation with so many unemployed persons, these banks would have been nowhere.

13 07 2012

I joined HDFC Bank in Jan 2012. In my six month journey with HDFC Bank what I have experience is that HDFC is not a service organisation but a complete ruthless sales organisation where employees are seen as slaves. The day starts by selling customers insurance in the name of investment. Poor customers comes to these guys by thinking that these people are bankers and will help them with good investment plans which will earn them good interest in long term and end up losing their principle amount as well.

Service is given only to those customers who is willing to do some investment (insurance). The life of employees are screwed with unrealistic targets otherwise how come HDFC is making profit of 30% yoy even without 5% employees meeting their targets in the whole Eastern region.

Employees are given targets to grow their portfolio size by 50% in the terms of value each year and so as to not be look this figure imaginary quarterly target of 13%-14% growth is set. There are employees who says that they don’t get one hour on daily basis to give to their family. The employees perform here not by getting motivated but in the fear of losing jobs.

To conclude in HDFC Bank you remain a slave whether you are a fresher or have worked for the organisation for 10 years and has became a Branch Manager. Your supervisior will abuse you on day in day out basis.

15 07 2012

The worst employer I have ever experienced in my life. Since the day I joined I have been a slave.

5 08 2012
Current Slave

Every word is true! Infact I would say that all AVP’s and above and all those holding stock options share the man’s attitude of “I am the boss and you all are my slaves”. The man is so crazy that when his daughter Amrita Puri got nominated for best supporting actress by Film fare, M.D’s office had global mails send accross to each and every employee to sms for her and make her win. There was pressure on us make contractual staff also to sms and vote for her.

15 02 2013
Donald roberts

Well from what I hear, he has made a mockery of the debt collection procedures for NPA. He has openly told collection people to break every rule in the book as laid down by RBI.He goes to the extent of having teams of enforcers who have slush funds to pay the police etc. to force people to pay up the loans and harass them to death.A channel t.v. in chennai has been doing back ground work on this…and has sufficient footage which they will release very soon.Some of the lawyers spoken too whose cleints have been harrased have said that Mr. Puri knows this happens in his bank and the collection dept.has his blessing to use any means to collect and keep the NPA’S low.HDFC makes other banks look like saints compared to what they can and will do.

10 05 2013

Really, shocking!

19 05 2013
Not req

Alll claims are crap , its all about how you manage your workplace and tasks, i am an engineer , and banking is all different world for me , i never did work on weekend except rarest of the rare exceptions, i use to leave by 8 pm though having sales profile and managing 30 to 35 sqr kms , and managing performance since i joined kp & 3 t1 straight . I am in favour of ap who provide efficient & perfomance driven system which leads to ultimate sq for clients & values for S- holders. Those who have joined & left bank in years might have experience tht this ap has created system which enable us to do extraordinary things from us ordinary persons….

1 11 2013

You really don’t have clue about banking !

1 11 2013

Having to leave office not earlier than 8 pm everyday – is it ok for u?

16 03 2019

Yes asshole.

14 11 2014

HDFC is a worst place to work. The astonishing point is how 45000 employees are not revolting to the draconian attitude of Management and silently swalloing the insult. My advice to the youngsters not to join HDFC even if u have to waith for other opportunities because you will definitely regret for voluntarily accepted slavage at the hands of HDFC

28 01 2015

Its not only Aditya Puri but his managers are also the same. There is a lady branch manager who is well-known for her inefficiency at work and the torture she metes out to her employees, but there is no one who can question her. She is notorious among her customers for her behavior. She does not know managing but knows how to shout at people. She has the history of being found out in “Audit” and has got demoted to a lesser earning branch. But still she is shameless and shares passwords with her colleagues. I am an example to whom she has given her log in password to me and asked me to log in into her system. I don’t know how such foolish and ill mannered people are given the position of “Branch Manager” in such a prestigious bank. May be this is the secret of their success that they treat their employees as “slaves” Such pathetic management I have ever seen!!!

28 01 2015

Just to add, i can see the comments of Srikanth K, I could see that he was so positive in his thoughts and has no problem with the the torture that the bank shows to it’s employees. I am just curious to know if he is now a “CEO”//”CCO” or has reached any other high positions in his life. Because he has learnt so much from such great people and started preaching everyone else. If he really has reached any such positions we will also follow the same.

15 07 2015

It’s not only about the HDFC bank but now almost every bank employees are in same state !
pathetic work life is what i can mention here after understanding the work problems by my friends who all work in retail banks

11 02 2016

HDFC Bank is the best bank to work with. I am presently working with this bank and am happy to be connected with its growth story.

What Mr. Puri do is in the best interest of the organization. Afterall everyone wants to be with the best.

14 06 2016

It’s been considered that Mr puri might have made his life better but made others,life, health,and balances weak and made them suffer for life, he has been awarded with several trophies and moving stock prices but have through the suffering of employees, nor their office is considered to be hygienic to work for they also should be awarded with worst employees centric, bad hygienic factor in their branches, worst It network, poor work conditions, unhygienic lifestyle of employees, worst ATM FACILITIES and their care taking.

10 12 2016
Jagmohan Gupta

m jagmohan frm delhi mene apko again n again bahut complaint ki muje harrase karke bank se force krke resign liya ggyaaa m working thaa HBL pr. my emplouyee code J06622 mujse force karke 25-03-2015 ko resign liya but abhi tk meri kahi bhi job nai lagki qki ITO Delhi Mai full gundaagardi ho rahi hai aur ye mera boss tha sankalp isne mere sath bahut hi galat kiya aur mere father bhi expired hai to pls strict action immediately…i want rejoin ur organisartion..

10 06 2017

That is exactly what HDFC Bank is- a harasser of its employees. Managers will treat you like a slave, take advantage of the employee and then blame it on the employee citing “bad attittude”. They will openly ridicule the employee, colleagues will harass you with impunity but remember, it was always you with “the bad attitude”.

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