A global citizen having grown up across four continents, a keen storyteller, Bridge player, and Twitter microblogger, Radhika Gupta is an investment professional with a range of diverse experiences across asset management – globally and in India, which includes start-up and global giants, public & private sector, and institutional & retail clients.
Starting her career with McKinsey, she later switched to Wall Street, joining AQR Capital – pioneers in hedge funds. She moved to India in 2009 to start her own venture – Forefront Capital Management, the first registered hedge fund in India, which was acquired by Edelweiss Financial Services Limited in 2014. She led Edelweiss’ acquisition of JP Morgan’s Mutual Fund business and Ambit Capital’s AIF business, to become the CEO of Edelweiss Asset Management in 2017.
She has been singularly focussed in helping build brand Edelweiss AMC into a fast growing, differentiated and innovative asset manager.
A member of the AMFI board, chairing the Committee of Mutual Fund Distributors, and a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), she has also been recognised as amongst “The 30 Most Powerful Women in Indian Business.”
In this exclusive conversation with the Women Icons Network, Radhika Gupta, the managing director and chief executive officer of Edelweiss Asset Management Co., the Edelweiss Group’s investment and advisory business, talks of the Gender Equity philosophy that drives the workplace at Edelweiss Asset Management Company.
The Edelweiss flower has deep symbolism attached to it. How does the Edelweiss Group symbolize Gender Equality at the workplace?
I’m glad you mentioned the Edelweiss flower. It forms the foundation of our cultural ethos. The original Alpine flower can withstand harsh winters and was immortalised in song. The flower in our logo was conceptualised keeping its namesake in mind, the centre representing our ideas and the encircling ‘e’ representing the values that protect it.
At Edelweiss, our focus is not just gender diversity but inclusion in its truest sense. Celebrating individual differences and opinions is integral to the Edelweiss way. We believe in building an inclusive workplace where diversity of thought drives competitive advantage and we walk the talk!
Women comprise 21% of our employee base and 13% of senior leadership. We have 2 women Independent Directors on our Board and 2 women CEOs, including myself. Our ESG council is headed by a woman and comprises heads of various critical departments including Corporate Development & Investor Relations, Marketing & Communications, Compliance & Governance, Human Resources and Administration – all women.
Could you tell us about some of the initiatives that have helped Edelweiss look inwardly through a Gender lens?
As we entered our 25th year, all of us at Edelweiss strengthened our resolve to embrace uniqueness and diversity in thoughts, ideas and perspectives via our inclusion philosophy, All In.
- You are INtegral to the Edelweiss family
- Your INdividualism makes you unique
- Your opinions are INvaluable
- You should speak up without INhibitions
- You INspire others with your ideas
- You INvolve others to get a fresh perspective
For us, diversity is not just about gender, but also diversity of thought and perspective. Women are biologically more empathetic and as an organisation becomes more emphatic, they start understanding and relating more to the customer. Differentiated views, innovation and diversity are all essential ingredients to building a long-term sustainable organisation.
At Edelweiss AMC, we introduced mentorship circles for women, preparing them for the next phase in their career. We also have a learning forum that showcases stories of inspiring women who dared to dream and made their mark. Women leaders are given ample exposure to network with the best in the industry at external forums.
Overall, I think women alone cannot fix the diversity problem. Men play an important role too. In fact, on women’s day earlier this year, we celebrated our male colleagues who have enabled and empowered the women in their lives.
What have been your learning in the journey to becoming a leader that help you to play the role of a catalyst for Gender Equity at Edelweiss?
Firstly, I have heard too often that “women don’t like women” in offices. I have been very fortunate to experience the opposite. I have met so many iconic women over the years and I’ve only benefitted from their warmth, affection, advice, candid stories and goodness. I think it’s important that we change the narrative. Women need to support other women and encourage them to step up. They need to act as mentors to each other, as they climb the corporate ladder. It’s the only way we can break the glass ceiling.
Secondly, I’m a firm advocate of the fact that there’s no secret sauce to success. It’s very simple really – discover your strengths, hone them well and work hard. Life is never about the cards you are dealt, but what you make of those cards. The one piece of advice I never tire from re-iterating is that getting opportunities is about asking for them. Your career is in your hands. Do justice to yourself and don’t be afraid to just ask for what you rightfully deserve. The men don’t hesitate. Why should we?
Thirdly, the concept I misunderstood the most in college is networking. Every introvert’s nightmare, we instantly conjure up images of people making small talk and exchanging business cards. But it’s so much more than that! It’s about investing in meaningful relationships with people outside your immediate bubble. It’s about enriching your life with multiple perspectives. Once you’ve mastered the art, it’s essential that you pass it on to other women, helping them build out their own network.
And finally, Empathy. I learnt very early on in life that you cannot claim to have technical skill sets alone. With the human race making rapid strides in automating everything, it becomes ever more critical that you build skills that cannot be automated – empathy, humility and kindness. In fact, there is no way we could meet the unarticulated needs of our customers without empathy.
When do you believe will the intrinsic worth of promoting Gender Equity at workplaces get captured in the value given by investors?
Gender diversity is often thought of as a soft social issue relevant only to women. In reality, it is a deep economic issue that should matter to all of us. A society that doesn’t leverage its women is punching well below its weight.
Take my own industry as a prime example. There are 45 mutual fund companies in India. Between CEO, CIO-Equity, CIO-Debt, and Head-Sales, there are 4 leadership roles per AMC, which make 150-180 leadership roles across the industry. I don’t think women fill even 10.
S&P Global found women to be the most under utilised source of growth that could send global market valuations soaring. The clear positives of a gender-diverse leadership bench and the benefit it adds to the bottom-line is no longer ignorable. With ESG increasingly taking up significant real estate in investor decks, boardrooms across the globe are finally being forced to take gender diversity seriously.