The century-old Hyderabad Public School in Hyderabad, India was modeled after England’s Eton College and designed to educate the country’s aristocratic sons, but a hundred years later, the prestigious school has become known for educating another class of students: today’s technology and business leaders. Incredibly, Ajay Singh Banga, Mastercard’s chief executive officer, walked the halls of Hyderabad Public School with Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella and Adobe’s CEO Shantanu Narayen years before becoming one of the most prominent global business leaders.
While Banga’s professional journey began at Hyderabad Public School in the 1970s, it was a long path to becoming Mastercard’s president and CEO. Banga earned a Bachelor of Arts in economics with honors from Delhi University’s St. Stephen’s College and an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad before embarking on his business career with Nestle India. Over his 13 year tenure at Nestle, he rose from a management trainee to hold a wide range of positions in sales, marketing and general management. Moving to PepsiCo in 1994, Banga played a key role as a member of their restaurants division in launching Pizza Hut and KFC in India.
Banga moved to the financial sector in 1996 when he joined Citigroup as their Indian head of marketing. He rose through the ranks at Citigroup, becoming the head of CitiFinancial and its U.S. Consumer Assets Division in 2000, president of North American Retail Banking in 2002, chairman and CEO of the International Global Consumer Group in 2005 and division executive for the Asian consumer bank in 2008.
In 2009, Banga returned to the U.S. to join Mastercard as president and chief operating officer. A year later, Mastercard’s Board of Director appointed Banga to replace outgoing CEO Robert W. Selander.
In addition to his responsibilities as CEO and president of Mastercard, Banga serves as the chairman of the U.S.-India Business Council (USIBC); this business advocacy organization represents over 300 of the biggest international companies with investments in India. Banga also sits on the board of directors for Dow Chemical Company and is a member of the think tank Council on Foreign Relations.
In recent years, Banga has been recognized for his business leadership by the governments in both his home country and his adopted country. President Barack Obama named Banga to his Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations in 2015, while the Government of India bestowed the fourth-highest civilian award to Banga in 2016.