Mahesh Aditya, president and chief executive of Santander Consumer USA, leads with a customer-first mentality while prioritizing the communities SCUSA serves.
On his way to the top, Aditya served as the lender’s chief operations officer and chief risk officer before taking the helm in December 2019.
Amid the pandemic, Aditya led the SCUSA team through philanthropic efforts including a COVID-related forbearance program, the donation of $5.6 million to nonprofits and its latest pledge of $35 million to bridge the digital divide in underserved U.S. communities through a partnership with technology and community nonprofit Comp-U-Dopt.
Most recently, Banco Santander completed its $2.5 billion acquisition of SCUSA on Jan. 31, officially removing the lender from the publicly traded market.
Auto Finance News spoke with Aditya about his leadership style, his outlook on lending trends and SCUSA’s ongoing community outreach.
Auto Finance Excellence: What are your company goals in about 10 words or less?
Mahesh Aditya: To be an innovator in digital lending and an employer of choice.
AFE: What is your favorite piece of leadership advice you ever received?
MA: There is no limit to what we can do if we don’t care who gets the credit for it. It took me some years to internalize this advice, and whenever I’ve tried to live by this credo it’s always had a very positive impact on people. I would like to think that when Santander Consumer took the opportunity during the pandemic to reach out to borrowers and offer them relief programs — which benefited almost a quarter of our customers — we did so without making a fuss or caring about the publicity. It was the right thing to do, and our employees felt proud to be a part of SC and serve customers in this way.
AFE: Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
MA: My father always served as my role model and someone I wanted to be like. He was a career army officer and a very accomplished cricket player. He always acted with enormous courage and, because of his firm beliefs and convictions, seldom took the most convenient path. Doing the right thing mattered most to him.
AFE: What do you think is the most underrated lending trend?
MA: We seldom hear about this, but during the pandemic most banks and lenders took very strong action toward giving back to their customers and to society. We have an opportunity to think boldly about how we come together to provide infrastructure and equal access to technology and education for the people who place their trust in us by giving us their savings or borrowing money. We have an obligation to our society to work together and give back.
AFE: What’s something your employees would be surprised to learn about you?
MA: I could barely speak until I was 4. I’ve more than made up for it.
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