Radhika Gupta- The CEO with the Broken Neck

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Mrs. Radhika Gupta is the MD & CEO of Edelweiss Asset Management Limited one of India’s fastest-growing asset management companies. Popularly known as “The Girl with the broken neck”. Manages about 80,000 crore worth of money. She aims to manage 3 lakh crores in upcoming years due to her belief in India’s superpower.

It is normal to be confused; to not understand what you would like to do with your life as you grow up – Radhika Gupta

EARLY DAYS OF LIFE

You don’t expect your life born with a deformity while you get exposed to the outer world.

She was born in Pakistan in1983 since her father was an Indian diplomat. Due to improper hospital facilities, she was delivered by unskilled professionals which landed her with torticollis. She developed a tilt in her head and squint as days passed by.

Managing mocks upon your looks and crushing your confidence at an early age was not an easy task. Despite adversities getting up and gearing up to face your insecurities was another added task for a kid to handle.

The advantage of being an Indian diplomat is to see various beautiful places in your life. On the darker side, it is a nightmare at times. It was an adventure to live in a place such as Nigeria under bulletproof doors. Not knowing whether you would get to meet your friends the next morning. She learnt about the power of community in Nigeria, a place where communities provide safety from external terrors.

She did her schooling at Marymount International School of Rome from 1999 to 2001. She secured gold medals in various subjects. Despite not being good in sports or much of extra-curricular. She learnt about the value of cultural heritage from Italy.

COLLEGE AND INTERNSHIP

She completed her B.S.E in computer science from the University of Pennsylvania. Chaired various committees and was the President and Founder – Women in Computer Science.

People who want to be a part of something big generally have a lot of insecurities. Getting into Wharton School was not an easy task for her. She was not even attempting to give it a try due to her remote possibility of getting in. The fear of failure stuck with her. Her mother was an optimist who encouraged her to pursue her B.Sc Economics with a scholarship at Wharton. The fee was almost equivalent to 1 crore around the 2000’s. It was pretty hard for the family to fund her studies, hence she did part-time jobs in 3 places to support her college fees.  She also received the highest honors- Summa cum laude.

During her internship at Microsoft, she received a salary higher than her father’s.

TASTE OF REALITY

At some point in life, you feel the whole world around is just racing ahead and you just feel stuck. You ask this question to yourself too often, what is the skill that is needed for me to improve upon? You ask this question too often and become restless and insane. Moreso when all your friends who were below your grades and skills get a job and you were the only one rejected in seven firms in a row. A similar episode happened in her life and not getting into the seventh firm got her mad. She decided to jump off the 19th floor. Just got lucky because of her friend and now-husband who called the cops and prevented her from committing suicide.

TURNING STONES

The following day was her return to sanity and she was careless about getting into such a famous consulting firm – Mckinsey. She was sure of not getting into this. After a list of rejections and a whole lot of confusion, she found a place that was just right. Luckily within 90 minutes of her interview, the interviewer was discussing the bridge game. Due to her physical inability in her early days, she used to play bridge along with the family. Having known about bridge she almost got through the interview and worked as a business analyst in Mckinsey from 2005-to 2006.

The perfect fit is a myth, she had to make a list of the things sold in the electronic store from 4 AM to 10 PM. The feeling that you were a misfit lingered inside her head many times.

In 2006 she joined AQR Capital Management as a portfolio manager.

BIRTH OF THE ENTREPRENEUR

Right after the global financial crisis of 2008 her husband, friend, and herself made a bold move to return to India and open up Forefront capital management company. Was questioned regularly about losing her well-paid job and entering into a land of uncertainties as a start-up. Yet the risk proved to be worthwhile when it came to the land of huge opportunities. She had to do more work as a co-founder, she had to manage all the toiling jobs such as marketing team, conducting meetings with distributors, simplifying, and promoting products.

Since she had developed a sense of big picture thinking and hands-on execution she was able to manage multiple tasks well. Having read an article about money management their first client stepped in followed by many more like a snowball effect.

In 2009 they partnered with Edelweiss asset management company because of its culture, passion, openness to change, ability to make a mark, and its bubbling young population. She became the youngest and only female CEO of the financial service sector in India at the age of 33.

The word CEO often sounds glamourous and bossy. In reality, it comes with lots of responsibilities such as coaching, motivating, and communicating with teams and not a person sitting idle in the corner. By taking small steps daily she was able to increase the money management business from 6000 crores to 80,000 crores, despite her disability.

MESSAGE TO THE CURRENT-GEN

Take the opportunities you have, and make them the right ones for you-Radhika Gupta.

Rejection and tough feedback will help you chisel out answers.

By RANJITHAM TP

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