An avid motivational speaker, successful author and only woman CEO in the mutual fund industry, Radhika Gupta, MD & CEO of Edelweiss Asset Management, is indeed a power to reckon with. Gupta shares her experience on 'women in finance' along with key lessons learnt in her own journey. Excerpts:
How would you describe your early professional journey?
It's been a rollercoaster journey, but I am proud to have defied the odds and become the only woman CEO in India's mutual fund's industry. I started my career with McKinsey & Co at the age of 22 and later served as a hedge fund manager at AQR Capital.
I am a graduate of management and technology from the University of Pennsylvania with joint degrees in economics from the Wharton School and Computer Science engineering from the Moore School.
Despite the financial crisis of 2008 you started on your own? Why?
In 2009, I moved to India to start my own venture despite the financial crisis of 2008. It was a tough time to start a business, but I took a leap of faith and invested Rs 25 lakh from my savings into the company. Within a year, the investment had grown to Rs 2 crore. My asset management firm was eventually acquired by the Edelweiss Group in 2014. Today, I have led the company's AUM to grow from Rs 6,000 crore (in 2017) to more than Rs1 lakh crore (February 2023).
'Women in Finance' – is that a natural fit?
In terms of opportunities, I just think women leaders – not just in finance but in all sectors can add so much more. The world that we are moving to is a world where hard skills are being replaced with automation. It’s not about being an autocratic leader; it’s about learning how to lead with empathy, it’s about creativity, and it’s about customer orientation. These are skill sets you learn at the dining table from your mother and grandmothers. Women have all the skills including money management. I don’t think there is a stamp of approval needed on women’s abilities, naturally and anecdotally.
What are five important lessons/suggestions would you offer to young women professionals?
In my book ‘Limitless’ I talk about the hardships, braving multiple rejections, rising again despite the crushing comments, and the lessons learnt. Here are six such takeaways.
- Start taking no for an answer; it will probably do you good
- Embrace feedback and work towards improving yourself
- Begin taking risks, or else you’ll lose yourself to the everyday grind
- Kickstart conversations that you want to have; without doubting yourself
- Admit if you don’t know something and reach out for help
- Strive for work-life integration instead of making work-life ‘perfect’