Life is not a template and neither is mine. Like several who have worked as journalists, I am a generalist in my over two decade experience across print, global news wires and dotcom firms. But there has been one underlying theme in each phase; life gave me the chance to observe and tell a story -- from early days tracking a securities scam to terror attacks and some of India's most significant court trials. Besides writing, I have jumped fences to become an entrepreneur, as an investment advisor -- and also taught the finer aspects of business journalism to young minds. At Forbes India, I also keep an eye on some of its proprietary specials like the Rich list, GenNext and Celebrity lists. An alumnus of Xavier Institute of Communications and H.R College of Commerce and Economics in Mumbai, I have worked for organisations such as Agence France-Presse, Business Standard, The Financial Express and The Times of India prior to this.
Renu Satti—who first built a successful career as an HR professional before steering course to helm various businesses at Paytm—has relished professional success twice.
There is more to her career than having made it big as an executive. There is a wider learning that after excelling in a career, one can reinvent in a new business role and outdo expectations once again.
Today, Satti is part of Vijay Shekhar Sharma’s trusted army at One97 Communications, the parent firm of Paytm, India’s largest digital payments platform with over 180 million users. She heads Paytm Payments Bank, one of Sharma’s most ambitious projects. It is one of four (out of the 11 licenced by the Reserve Bank of India) payments banks operating in India, competing with Airtel, Fino and India Post Payments Bank to deepen access to formal financial services in the unbanked areas of India.
For Satti, the journey that culminated at the helm of the payments bank has been unique. After her BCom, she spent ten years as a human resources specialist, starting with Mother Dairy in 2003, Manpower Services in 2005 and One97 Communications from 2006 to 2013. Since then, the last four years have gone into building different businesses at Paytm.
So what led to the shift? Despite finding success as an HR professional—managing and developing recruitment, payroll and transfer models at various corporates—Satti says, “once the models were set up, the focus was only on execution. I was not creating anything”.
This prompted her to rethink her role at One97, moving from HR to handle some business operations, such as seller acquisitions on Paytm’s ecommerce platform and later the movies and events business.
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She is in the right place. This is the most exciting, and most challenging phase for Paytm Payments Bank, as it wrestles for pole position and expands its reach across India. The aim is to open 100,000 banking outlets, through an investment of ₹3,000 crore.
Satti spent much of 2017 putting a strategy in place at Paytm Payments Bank—creating the organisational structure, formulating controls and technological processes. In 2018, the bank introduced debit cards for its customers. It has also struck an alliance with IndusInd Bank, whereby if a customer’s account balance crosses ₹100,000, a fixed deposit will be automatically created.
James Agarwal, managing director of BTI Consultants, a ‘C-level’ executives search company, says about Satti, who worked with him at Manpower, “Being well networked, she had the uncanny ability of figuring out who was doing well in their careers. Knowledge comes by training or learning. In her case, these channels have always been open.”