Most Powerful Women to Watch: Kavita Mahtani, HSBC North America Holdings

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Chief Financial Officer

For many new hires, the first couple of months tend to be a period of observation and learning. But when Kavita Mahtani started at HSBC North America Holdings, she was given 60 days to complete her first big assignment.

Mahtani, who joined the company in October of last year, had to look at the various businesses and present a compelling value proposition for each. She said proactive communication helped her to build relationships, which enabled her to accomplish the mission swiftly.

“Building the network and bringing people on board along the way were two strategies that helped in developing the plan in a short period of time, but also eventually led to its successful approval and implementation,” Mahtani said.

She kept senior leadership in the loop on her progress and incorporated real-time feedback that cut down on revisions and allowed for early buy-in from decision makers. “Everyone felt like they owned the new strategy,” she said.

Mahtani, a former Citigroup executive, played a key role in regulatory stress-testing exercises in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. She joined HSBC North America as chief financial officer at the same time as another Citi veteran, Michael Roberts, took over as president and chief executive. London-based parent company, HSBC Group, has roughly $211 billion of assets in the United States and has branches in eight states and the District of Columbia.

Mahtani said the COVID-19 crisis and unrest in the nation over racial inequality brought home to her that she had to stay in touch with her team frequently to see how they’re holding up. “I have spent these past few weeks drawing people out and giving them the opportunity to have difficult conversations,” she said in early summer. “That question about ‘feeling’ is so important, and I listen carefully to ensure people are feeling OK in these uncertain times.”

For the first time, American Banker's Most Powerful Women in Banking celebration is open to the whole financial community. Join us virtually October 6-8 to hear our 2020 honorees' stories and experiences. Register here.

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