Rajeev Jain, MD, Bajaj Finance Limited, has just been recognized as India’s best CEO in the NBFC category by Business Today at their annual event MindRush 2015, a gathering of India’s best business brains.

At the wheel for eight years and counting, Rajeev has successfully transformed the small-sized company into one of the fastest growing success stories in India. From revenues of Rs 400 crore to Rs 5,400 crore and profits of Rs 47 crore to almost Rs 900 crore since he took over, this has been an amazing tale of triumph. The assets under management have swelled from Rs 2,761 crore to a staggering Rs 32,410 crore. And that’s not all. The assets or balance sheet size stands at Rs 37,964 crore. Amazing numbers by any standard.

A staunch believer of the startup culture, Rajeev says – “I like to build businesses from scratch. I like the startup atmosphere and the enthusiasm associated with it to create a growth story.” The first and foremost challenge that Rajeev faced was that the Bajaj brand resonated more with auto than financial services. However, the access to capital, quick decision making and the freedom to run a business without any interference, were the positives he could take. “The first two to three years were spent on cleaning the book of bad assets and building the business afresh”.

The most important part was probably right-sizing the branches. He brought down the number of branch locations from 400 to 72, and then scaled up again to 465, building brick and mortar offices in cities with the maximum business potential. From three products (auto, consumer durable and personal computers financing), he has now expanded the basket to 34 products – including personal loans, business loans, loan against property and co-branded cards, among others.

Rajeev is focusing on customer experience and product and process innovations to create a differentiated and profitable business model. He recently launched India’s first EMI Finance app that gives loan approvals in 60 seconds. The company has already given over 100,000 approvals in less than 2 months. “We think it is informational and will change the way our business model will work in the years to come,” says Jain. While competition is still studying the EMI app model, clearly the man-in-charge is taking a lead in the digital world.