Obama appoints Ajay to US advisory committee

Ajay Banga of MasterCard

US President Barack Obama has appointed Ajay Banga, an American-Indian who talks about his turban in interviews with journalists, to a ‘key administration’ post.

In a statement released on Friday (5 Feb 2015), the White House said the MasterCard chief has been appointed as a member of the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations.

A check by Asia Samachar of the committee members’ background suggests Ajay is the only person of Asian-descend on board.

“The talent and expertise these individuals bring to their roles will serve our nation well.  I am grateful for their service, and look forward to working with them,” the president said in the same statement.

Ajay is President and CEO of MasterCard, positions he has held since 2009. Prior to joining MasterCard, he held various senior management roles with Citigroup between 1996 and his departure in 2009, when he served as CEO of Citigroup Asia Pacific, according to the statement.

Ajay, who studied in India, began his career at Nestlé India, where he served in various sales and management roles from 1981 to 1994.

The topic of turban cropped up in a July 2014 article by the Fortune magazine. We share two paragraphs from the article:

The first thing you notice about Banga, 54, is the thick black beard on his face and the elegant black turban atop his head. The turban is central to Sikhism (Banga was raised Sikh in Pune, India, the son of a retired Indian military general) but is a rare sight in U.S. boardrooms. In a graduation speech at New York University’s Stern School of Business in June, Banga conceded as much: “I tend to stand out in a room,” he said. “Turbans and beards will do that to you.” He joked that being randomly searched at airports is his “part-time hobby.”

The next thing you notice about him is his humor. He teases colleagues and makes fun of himself, frequently; he talks candidly and swears for emphasis. But that frankness and ability to disarm earn him respect. “Ajay is the most intelligent person I’ve worked with in my life,” says one senior colleague who did not want to be quoted for fear of looking obsequious. “It comes down to his confidence; he is deeply at ease with himself.” – ASIA SAMACHAR (7 Feb 2015)


[ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries. Go to www.asiasamachar.com]