Letter from one of the most powerful women to her daughter

Wed, Apr 20 2016

Chanda Kochhar didn’t have an easy childhood, growing up in the desert city of Jaipur (India) and being raised by her mother along with her two siblings, after her father passed away at a young age. That event left the family devastated and without an income, since the mother of the three children had been a homemaker till then. But she was determined to give her kids a better life, so she moved to Mumbai where she started working in the textile industry until she was able to put all three children into college.

Today, Chanda Kochhar is the Managing Director and CEO of ICICI Bank, and has been included in the ‘100 Most Powerful Women in the World’ Forbes’ list for the fourth time in a row. She’s in charge of $100 billion of the bank’s assets and over 2,700 branches in 19 countries. She’s the perfect example that with hard-work and a good attitude everything is achievable, no matter where you come from or what your situation is. Recently she wrote a letter to her daughter, Aarti Kochhar, where she explains what it means to be a working woman, how not to let stress get to you and the importance of family, since she claims her bigger lessons in life came from her own parents.

The letter has been trending on social media since it was published, being part of the book ‘Legacy: Letters from Eminent Parents to their Daughters’ by Sudha Menon. And here I want to share a few fragments of it where we can learn the most valuable lessons by this inspirational woman.

“Our parents treated all three of us - two sisters and a brother - equally. When it came to education, or our future plans, there was no discrimination between us based on our gender. Your grandparents always had the same message for the three of us - that it was important to focus on what gave us satisfaction and to work towards it with utmost dedication. That early initiation enabled us to develop into confident individuals capable of taking decisions independently. This also helped me when I started out on my own journey of self- discovery.”

“As a parent with a full time job, one must not let work affect the way you relate to your family. Remember the time you were studying in the US and the announcement of my becoming MD and CEO of ICICI was splashed across all newspapers? I remember the mail you wrote to me a couple of days later. 'You never made us realise that you had such a demanding, successful and stressful career. At home, you were just our mother,' you wrote in your email. Live your life in the same way, my darling.”

“I also learnt from my mother that it is very important to have the ability to handle difficult situations and keep moving forward in life, no matter what. Even today I can remember the equanimity and calmness with which she handled the crisis on hand when my father passed away. You have to handle the challenges and emerge stronger from them, rather than allow them to bog you down.”

“It was also from my mother that I learnt the importance of adapting to circumstances and not being afraid of the unknown. While working hard for my career, I looked after my family, and have been there for my mother and in-laws when they needed me around. They reciprocated in kind with their unconditional love and support for my career. Remember that relationships are important and have to be nurtured and cherished. Also keep in mind that a relationship is a two way street, so be ready to give a relationship just as you would expect the other person to be giving to you.”

“I believe in fate but I also believe that hard work and diligence plays a very important role in our lives. In a larger sense, we all write our own destiny. Take destiny in your own hands, dream of what you want to achieve, and write it in your own way. As you go ahead in life, I want you to climb the path to success one step at a time. Aim for the sky, but move slowly, enjoying every step along the way. It is all those little steps that make the journey complete.

“As you go forward, you will sometimes have to take difficult decisions, decisions that others might scorn at. But you must have the courage to stand up for what you believe in. Make sure you have that conviction to do what you know is right, and once you have it, don't let sceptics distract you from your path.

Aarti, there is no limit to what a determined mind can achieve, but in achieving your goal, don't compromise on the values of fair play and honesty. Don't cut corners or compromise to achieve your dreams. Remember to be sensitive to the feelings of people around you. And remember, if you don't allow stress to overtake you, it will never become an issue in your life.

Remember that good times and bad times will be part of your life equally, and you have to learn to handle both with equanimity. Make the most of life's opportunities and learn from every opportunity, and challenge that life brings along.”


With such inspiring words, Chanda Kochhar give us a big life lesson, making us see what is actually important and where we need to focus our energy. Work hard and take the chances when they appear, because we are the ones that write our own destiny.


See the complete letter here.


Author: Berenice Ruiz, PRIA Marketing & Communication Intern. 


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