The back office of the World Bank, Chennai is an extension of the World Bank headquartered in Washington D.C. The World Bank Chennai office offers corporate financial, accounting, administrative and IT services for the Bank’s offices in around 150 countries. The Chennai office handles several value-added operations of the bank that were earlier handled only in its Washington D.C office.
According to Mr. Lal Gardner from the Office of the Director in the Bank’s Accounting Department in Washington, the reasons for selection of Chennai were the availability of relevant skills, robustness of IT infrastructure, real estate issues, the number and experience of similar entities established in the city before deciding on Chennai.
The Chennai office started its business operation as a primary processing work, including payroll processing, in August 2001 with a staff of 80 people. On 15 March 2002, the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu inaugurated a new 26,000 sq ft office in Raheja Towers in Anna Salai, where the bank started functioning in a full-fledged manner to process all of the bank’s accounting functions and its global payrolls, with about 90 personnel. In 2003, the staff strength increased to about 180 and the bank decided to move the analytical work in bond valuation to the Chennai office, whereby the bank moved the work outside its headquarters in Washington D.C for the first time in its history.
The bank has decided to expand the office space here after examining the availability of accounting skill, information technology infrastructure, real estate and the Tamil Nadu government’s commitment to providing adequate infrastructure.
On 22 September 2006, the bank moved to a leased premises in Taramani which it later purchased in 2009, to set up a permanent back office in Chennai. The State Government allotted the 3.5 acres of land, strategically located in Taramani to World Bank for this permanent facility.
By 2012, the staff strength grew to 500 and the Taramani office, measuring 128,000 sq ft in built-up area, had become the largest bank-owned building outside its headquarters in Washington D.C. This is an energy-efficient ‘green’ building, featuring carbon sensors, automated lighting and air conditioning
The then President of the World Bank visited the Chennai office in 2012 and said:
“The Chennai office reflects the Bank’s commitment to decentralizing business processes while enhancing its global presence. It’s a clear demonstration of the Bank’s continuing efforts to use resources effectively to deliver development results on the ground.”
This prestigious project, which will go a long way in showcasing Chennai as a destination for international back office operations, is likely to provide a major fillip to IT-related investments in Tamil Nadu.
The fact that Chennai was chosen for what is its sole back office has a general and positive bearing on Tamil Nadu’s image as a favourable investment destination.
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