Source | YourStory : By BINJAL SHAH
Manisha Girotra, with her unmissable Hepburn-like disposition, walks into the conference room of the 15th floor office of Moelis, in Mumbai’s Indiabulls tower, and I quickly spruce up to greet her formally. Within 10 seconds, I realised that my little drill was unnecessary. Our ice-breaker, as it turns out, wasn’t about the once face of UBS Bank, the puppeteer of many a big-ticket M&A deal that forever altered the landscape of their industries, the golfer, mentor, women’s rights champion; no, she made it about me; a mere three-year-old fish in the pond, and my dreams and aspirations.
That was when I learned my first big lesson about her – she had reached this pedestal by becoming a true insider to one’s story, and hence, masterminding deals that both entities thrive in. And this characteristic also extends to her interactions as a woman leader – she has taken under her wings, in her personal climb, every woman she meets along the way.
As our time coincides with the Indian business ecosystem at its most fluid state, while it metamorphosises to accommodate a flurry of small and big players, a trait that will define the winners of this generation would be knowing how to raise big money, even while making good money oneself. While Manisha’s professional prowess has never left the limelight, our conversation took a more candid turn. Here is the story, not only of her laurels, but also her tussles:
A middle-class upbringing
Fortysix-year-old Manisha’s cornerstones were a father constantly rooting for her to excel, and a household where all the women went to work with no frills about it – it was utterly normalised. After getting a postgraduate degree from Delhi School of Economics, she was among a group of 50 that Grindlays Bank had freshly hired. What’s more, she was absorbed in their investment banking division.
“As a gold medallist from DSE, I thought I’m going to change the world’s economic cycles. But my first job was making stock statements for companies – I had to register if they had 2,000 pencils, 200 tables, 30 fans,” she recounts. Her second gig at Grindlays was just as disenchanting; besides stock statements, she occasionally doubled up as the pizza delivery girl.
But, in retrospect, she wouldn’t have traded up for anything in the world. “They train you through all the aspects of business and want you to see what it takes to build one. And you hang in there until people build more confidence around you,” she says.