BRIEF INTRODUCTION.

Presently working as Director, Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A) at Fidelity International and has diverse experience in the various finance profiles. 

WHAT EMPLOYMENT GOAL(S) DID YOU ACHIEVE?

I currently head the FP&A shared services team in India. We work closely with the various leadership teams to formulate the business's medium to long term strategic plans. I am responsible for managing and developing multi-disciplinary and matrix teams to optimize the operating model. I also partner with the global stakeholders of HR and General Counsel to provide support in decision making and delivery of management reports.

My significant professional accomplishments have been the following:

COMPLEX CORPORATE DEALS:

I have led complex corporate deals in the past. I was a core member of the team involved in the sale of Fidelity India AMC to L&T Holdings to contribute to the right deal value, money movement, and tax implications on the organization.

As the Finance head of Old Mutual, I led the strategy formation to enter the Indian market for asset management and distribution. However, this could not take off due to capital adequacy at a global level. I then led the shutdown of the India office with least exposure to the company and its employees.

DEVELOP SECOND-GENERATION LEADERS:

By building strong, high-performing teams, I have been able to think differently and focus on several strategic initiatives. I have consistently endeavoured to inspire and motivate team members to help them achieve their goals.

WHAT KEEPS YOU GOING?

The big smile on my daughter's face when I tell her about my achievements! To show her appreciation, she pastes a small star on my hand. These stars on my fist are not just stars, to me, they are kind words of support to that say – "Go mummy, go! I am here supporting you!"

HOW DID YOU OVERCOME INITIAL MINDSET CHALLENGES?

Well, I was blessed to be born in a family that treated girls and boys as equals and did not differentiate in what could be the goals for either gender. I was allowed to work, even crazy hours, while I was auditing and pursuing my dreams.

However, I did deal with fixed mindsets of peers, bosses, and not to mention my juniors as well when I started my corporate career. There was always a question in my peer's eyes - will she be competitive enough? My boss speculating - will she get married and leave the project I assign to her? My juniors wondering - will I be strong enough with my male colleagues to get them a fair chance of success?

Even after a lot of corporate programs, awareness initiatives, and the world talking about D&I, I keep hearing these unconscious biases that people have and how they become obstacles for women at work.

I have dealt with these unconscious biases through a two-pronged strategy:

  • Actions speak louder than words - Keep doing the right thing. Do not get bogged down by what others think and focus on achieving your goals. While I say actions speak louder than words, everyone will not have an opportunity to look at the actions, so do not feel shy to showcase your work at the right time and setting, to the right people.
  • You are not a pizza, and you cannot make everyone happy - I read this on a poster when I was younger on someone's desk. I think I internalized it! There will be people who will not like you, not believe you. You have to realize that it is ok. You do not have to win everyone's heart to be successful. Find the right sponsors for yourself and people who would like to work with you.

WHAT WAS THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF YOUR JOURNEY TILL NOW?

The biggest challenge for any professional is the ability to adapt to the latest technologies, environment, and culture consistently. It is vital to accept things as they are because it is true that nothing is constant except change. Things will change, whether you like it or not, be ready to mould yourself to adapt to it.

WHAT IS YOUR LIFE'S SUCCESSMANTRA? ANY INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE ETC.

I firmly believe that 'we rise by lifting others'. A study by Forbes says high-performance teams are a group of people who share a common vision, goals, metrics, and then go ahead to collaborate efforts, challenge each other, and are accountable for achieving outstanding results. Early in my career, I understood the value of investing in a team; a high-performing team will always deliver results, and it can only be built by:

  • Taking people along in the journey and ensure they grow with you.
  • Ensuring high energy and enthusiasm keeps the team inspired and motivated towards achieving their goals.
  • Building a trusting and loyal team makes it easier to deal with pressing matters like conflicts and objective issues, among others. Things are discussed openly, and the team is confident in taking risks, creating innovative ideas, and achieving results that matter and make a real difference.
  • Shared vision leads to synergy towards achieving the goal. Team dynamics shape the team's character, thus enabling them to achieve extraordinary things.

Tips would you like to give other women who want to achieve higher goals; Moment of proud in your journey?

Here are a few insights I would like to share:

Believe in yourself: If you notice, successful people genuinely believe that they can achieve their goals. You must push away the negative thoughts, and think about the positives. You have to make things happen for you!

Never give up: The other thing which I would advise is - never give up. Keep trying and pushing ahead - failures and discouragement are a part of learning; do not stop.

I genuinely believe that the world recognizes people who do not give up. People stop being obstacles on your path. Eventually, all your determination will pay off.

Share any behavioural attribute which you think makes a person more productive and successful.

Having seen and interacted with a lot of successful people, I have observed that all successful people have 'ambitious goals'. The process of goal setting is very personal and unique to everyone, and I have seen people making varied types of goals. Setting goals and an ambition to pursue them helps you to stay focussed, learn new traits/skills to achieve the goals.


Please note the article was originally published in the Internal Audit Today in October 2020.

The opinions expressed are author's own. Fidelity International is not responsible for the author's opinions.