The WFE's Women Leaders 2024 – Hima Bindu Vakkalanka, Vice President – Special Projects at NSE

By: Hima Bindu Vakkalanka, Vice President – Special Projects, National Stock Exchange of India Mar 2024

 Name: Hima Bindu Vakkalanka

Organisation: National Stock Exchange

Job Title: Vice President – Special Projects


1. Brief job description 

Ms. Hima Bindu is a highly motivated and confident professional with over 26 years of experience in the capital markets domain. She has been with National Stock Exchange (NSE) since the beginning of her career and has grown steadfastly along with the organisation. She has been part of NSE’s critical milestones / growth journey with a successful track record of building and executing projects – both regulatory-driven and new-edge projects, which are futuristic and critical for NSE and involve many challenges and risks associated right from ideation to implementation. She possesses sterling leadership qualities and is a master at defining new frameworks, building and nurturing diverse teams across varied functions.

2. Short biography

Ms. Hima Bindu is a postgraduate in Business Administration with over 26 years of experience. She also holds a certification in Data Analytics from IIM Kozhikode. She has expertise in varied functions, including trading, clearing, compliance, operations, risk management, business continuity management and project management. Her experience in the capital markets includes solutioning, a strong interface with technology, stringent regulatory compliance, stakeholder management, building strong teams, implementation and the maintenance of complex systems.

Her interests include a passion for music, active involvement in philanthropic activities and leading community outreach programs to help underprivileged children.

3. What were your professional highlights and challenges in 2023?

During the past year I had the opportunity to work on some of the crucial regulatory initiatives in the capital markets domain to address the misuse of client collateral, such as collateral segregation at client level and the upstreaming of clients’ funds to clearing corporations. I was involved in designing the monitoring framework and implementing the system, which involved decision-making on the framework, business rules, data to be captured and industry best practices. I had also implemented anomaly detection to capture misreporting and the misuse of client collateral in NSE Clearing.

Building Resilient Systems: Another noteworthy achievement was the building of additional business continuity using software-as-a-service of other clearing corporations. This was a challenging project and the first of its kind globally as we had to build resilience for the handling of a major software malfunction. My contribution included identifying the required risk-management processes, designing the business flows, coordinating with the technology teams of both the clearing corporations in designing and finalising the architecture, API messages etc, conducting familiarisation mocks for clearing members and parallel production runs. The entire implementation was completed in eight months, and we achieved intraday failover of risk management in the live market to the alternate site in 30 minutes with minimum disruption to markets.

4. Tell us about a few of your key achievements?

During the initial days of my career, I was one of few shortlisted candidates who got handpicked for the post of executive assistant (EA) to the Managing Director (MD) of National Stock Exchange. During the four-year tenure as EA to the MD, I not only got exposure on matters relating to Indian capital markets, but also to other diverse areas.

I have had the opportunity to work in different areas, such as regulatory compliance, operations, product development and special projects across the exchange and clearing corporation during my 26-year journey at NSE.

Since 2004, I worked predominantly in the projects division, both on the trading side and the clearing end. Key achievements include:

On the Exchange Front

Introduction of pre-open session in Indian capital markets

Migration from X25 to IP

Separation of NET, market and post trade layers

Reduction of roundtrip of orders

Setting up of Algo lab.

On the Clearing Front

Headed the new Clearing and Settlement project at NSE Clearing, which involved dealing with international software product vendors.

Headed implementation of regulatory projects including continuous regulatory interactions, member familiarisation programmes while meeting the regulatory timelines and ensuring performance expectations given NSE volumes.

Entrusted with representing my organisation in one of the regulatory matters where the stakes involved were very high. This lasted for around 2 years. With my analytical skills and ability to work closely with the legal teams, we were able to furnish all the relevant information and prove our integrity as an organisation.

Apart from all the above, my biggest achievement has been the building of strong, cohesive teams and hand-holding people in surmounting many challenges. I take great pride in nurturing cherished relationships beyond work and being always approachable by my team and all stakeholders.

5. Who and what inspires you to achieve your professional success?

I strongly believe that every positive interaction and experience can teach us something worthwhile. I have been very fortunate to work with some of the best leaders and professional experts who were whizzes in their respective fields. While from some of them I learned that it was necessary to be a learner for life, from others I learned that a true leader is always grounded and stands by his/her teams through thick and thin. This coupled with the experience of leading and working with diversified teams across organisations has helped me in becoming a better leader myself.

The responsibility entrusted to me by my organisation, and the confidence of my superiors has helped in reaching where I am today. I have always been thrown into challenging circumstances and enjoyed undertaking exciting and complex assignments, which enabled me to demonstrate my organisational, technical and people skills.

My family has been my biggest supporter and inspiration and always encouraged me to achieve greater heights professionally and personally. While my father inspired me to be ambitious, my mother encouraged me to be generous, stay grounded and lead like a woman. My spouse inspired me to be dedicated and has been supportive through all my highs and lows. My children have never put me on a guilt trip, rather they always felt very proud of their mother’s achievements. The journeys my siblings have chosen to reach the leadership positions they are in today have inspired me endlessly.

6. How have you overcome setbacks, and what advice would you give to others dealing with setbacks?

In 2021, I experienced a setback where one of the projects dealing with international vendors on which I was the project manager had to be terminated. Both parties tried hard to make it work, but given the circumstances and in the interests of the project and the organisations, it was decided to call it off two years into the project. Since this was one of the high value projects, it was under scrutiny from all sides and stakeholders. But my courage to handle any kind of challenges, with a systematic approach, effective documentation and timely status updates to all stakeholders helped me to emerge successfully. Also, my people skills of maintaining good relationships helped us in recovering all costs incurred on the project, without going through the legal route and we parted amicably.

My advice would be to always take data-driven decisions rather than being emotionally attached to projects. Maintaining individual integrity is of paramount importance as that gives us the strength to move mountains and overcome any setback.

7. What advice do you have for other women who aspire to be in leadership positions?

One needs to have a clear set of values and goals to reach. Self-confidence is very important. It isn’t the dopamine rush of motivation that makes successful people, but the discipline of giving your best even at rock bottom. A woman should never fall into the trap of the super woman syndrome. It is time we realised that admitting when you are burnt out and seeking help is one of the strongest things one should do. Making kids part of one’s journey and not carrying any guilt to work is the key. There is no set-in-stone perfect work-life balance. The key is to prioritise, plan and take action.

As women, we feel we are ready only when we have everything figured out, or else we take a back seat. On the other hand, men are daring enough to go for things even if they are not ready. This perfection syndrome keeps women from taking risks and pursuing opportunities they perceive as beyond their reach. The reality is that you will never be prepared, sometimes you just need to experience it.

The most important thing is to lead like a woman and be instrumental in the success of other men and women. My mantra is: “I make mistakes, I fall, I learn, I rise, and I run. I am not perfect, but I put up a fight and I am grateful for these opportunities.”


The views, thoughts and opinions contained in this Focus article belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the WFE’s policy position on the issue, or the WFE’s views or opinions.