By Sonia West

Indra Guha is the VP and Market Lead at Canadian Western Bank (CWB).

Indra is from Calcutta, India. After graduating in Engineering, he worked for TATA Group (the largest business conglomerate in India) in project management. It was while enjoying his successful career at TATA group, he decided to pursue his MBA and got accepted at UBC’s full-time MBA program.

“I always had the propensity towards numbers and finance, and regularly assisted my father (who is a small business owner) in his business financial strategy and Banking stuff.” This became reinforced while doing his MBA, and Indra consciously enrolled in Finance courses. “The knowledge I gained strongly influenced my eagerness to start a new direction in my career in Banking & Finance.”

During his formative 16 years at RBC, he accomplished progressively diverse roles. “In my previous role, I was VP-Commercial Banking at RBC’s flagship Vancouver Downtown Market.

Last year, I was approached with a significant opportunity at CWB, where I joined as VP & Market Lead of West Fraser Valley Market, responsible for Personal, Commercial and Private Banking business areas in our market.”

Indra had the privilege to work with exceptional leader-mentors, and as an engaged leader he takes pride in developing talented people who are now successful in their careers. In his current leadership role at CWB, he is thrilled to be part of his team’s people-centric culture and camaraderie. The team deeply cares about colleagues, clients, and community. “My team inspires me to do my best every day. I am truly privileged and humbled to lead this winning team in one of the country’s fastest-growing region.” 

His most consequential decision in life was to leave his own country and travel more than 11,000 km to a different continent with very unfamiliar surroundings compared to where he grew up. “When I came to Vancouver, I knew no one and had no friends or family here. I landed at YVR as an International Student with two pieces of luggage and an acceptance letter to UBC – MBA program.”

In his very first week in Canada, Indra stayed at Jericho Beach youth hostel, as that was one of the most affordable accommodations he could find in Vancouver. Life gives back delightfully and as a Sr. Commercial Banker, Indra, at one point, was managing the banking relationship of Western Canada Youth Hostel Association, and yes, that included this Jericho Beach Hostel. The experience of taking risks (from the relative comfort of life) in a new environment, and his resiliency to manage the unknowns have shaped Indra into who he is today.

“I am an introvert” he says.  However, Indra is selfless and always willing to prioritize himself for social causes to benefit humanity. “I have been involved in multiple social organizations, as a Mentor with SUCCESS, Mentor of UBC and BCIT students, Board member of Kettle Society, and currently Board member of Mosaic BC.” 

His advice to readers: “Be adaptable to changes, and lead with empathy & integrity. These qualities will naturally impact and influence the people we work with, and our community. The results may not be immediate, but the trust someone will achieve as a leader is immeasurable.”

Indra is an avid reader; however, he laments that his long work hours don’t allow him the luxury of time. “I’m now re-reading Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. It’s a fabulous read about how intuition and slow thinking can shape our judgment by effectively tapping into both… thinking through when the stakes are high.”

Indra works hard and values his time with friends who are like family. “I go for walks quite often, sit idly and people-watch over coffee. And most importantly, I have a close group of friends, who I meet regularly after work to unwind and relax.” His empathetic spirit is evident in his belief, which he shares with us: “If we all can do something every day to make someone happy, that would have a significant positive impact on everybody.”

Passionate about improving our societal well-being, he refers himself as a “Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Champion. Recently I heard this, and it stuck with me: Diversity is a fact, but Inclusion is a choice, and that conscious choice we must make every day.”

Indra’s favorite quote is from Maya Angelou: “People will forget what you said and did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.