Piyush Gupta Asks `Why Stop?' as DBS Mines Within for Next CEO

(Bloomberg) -- Piyush Gupta, into his ninth year as chief executive officer of DBS Group Holdings Ltd., isn’t looking to call it a day.

“I’m loving the job. I think we’re making impact as a company,” Gupta said in an interview at his office in Singapore last week. “I’m a firm believer if you enjoy what you’re doing, why stop?”

While Gupta has no plans to slow down and says investors are starting to realize the benefits of DBS’s digital focus, Southeast Asia’s largest lender has also identified three generations of leadership within its ranks. This includes talent to fill the CEO spot.

“So far, we’ve been able to fill all of the C-suite positions internally,” Gupta said. “Which is why the hope is that we should be able to fill my job also internally.”

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Gupta joined DBS in November 2009 after 27 years at Citigroup Inc., where he helped run internet banking. He calls himself an “unusual banking CEO” for his technology background and last year announced an investment of S$20 million ($15 million) over five years to train 10,000 employees in Singapore in digital banking.

Gupta said DBS’s digital push is creating new revenue streams while curbing costs. Last month, the lender delivered a decade-high return on equity with above-expectations quarterly profit, which helped its shares pull further ahead of local rivals Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. and United Overseas Bank Ltd. They have risen more than 68 percent since the start of 2017, compared with almost 47 percent at OCBC and 45 percent at UOB.

Read: DBS CEO gets the biggest pay raise among Singapore bank heads

Gupta’s passions include bird-watching and environment conservation, but he isn’t planning to fully focus on them just yet.

“For the record, Singapore’s new retirement age is 67 years old,” said Gupta, who turned 58 this January. “I’ve got 10 more years to go.”

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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