Munish Varma, MBA '97:
Lending India a Hand
In the six months that followed, the expansion plans Varma had in the works were put on the backburner. Instead, he and his staff "combed through the firm's books with a fine-tooth comb," finding ways to manage risk. When most of the dust had cleared, Deutsche Bank was one of the relative winners in the crisis. Wisely, the bank had held few of the toxic assets that crippled banks like Merrill Lynch, and Citibank. Indian banks, protected by national controls that prohibit them taking on risky assets, kept lending money and remained relatively unscathed as well. Even during a tumultuous 2008 fiscal year, the country's economy grew by a healthy 6.7 percent.
Born and raised in New Delhi, Varma says the financial landscape in India has changed dramatically since he first left the country more than fifteen years ago. "As a nation," Varma says, "India feels more confident than ever." He cites Tata Motors' purchase of Jaguar and Tata Steels' takeover of English steel giant Corus as evidence of the new attitude and buying power held by the country's corporate sector. In terms of domestic consumption, the country has an ideal demographic: a huge number of people under the age of 35, many of which comprise a growing middle class. There's a new spirit of national pride in the air too, he says, evidenced by people's increased recent attention to the country's national sports teams.
In the next five to ten years, Varma expects India's high-flying growth rate to continue. He anticipates a great need for further investment in infrastructure - power, roads, transportation - and is excited by the spirit of innovation that has made India a new force to be reckoned with on the international stage. "It's a delight to work in a country that's growing so much," he says.
— Mark Rader, MFA '02