Article: Radhika Gupta on how HR transformed her life to become one of the renowned leaders


Radhika Gupta on how HR transformed her life to become one of the renowned leaders

The CEO of Edelweiss Mutual Funds advised that remaining silent only sustains the status quo, whereas speaking up and confronting discriminatory behaviours and practices can initiate significant change.
Radhika Gupta on how HR transformed her life to become one of the renowned leaders

Innovation has historically been subject to trends, flourishing during prosperous times and fading into obscurity during downturns. However, with the dismantling of geographical and market barriers due to globalisation, the importance of innovation—drawing upon fresh, value-creating ideas from various stakeholders including employees, partners, customers, and suppliers—has transcended mere trendiness. Instead, it has emerged as a fundamental driver of growth, performance, and valuation for companies. 

According to McKinsey, over 70 per cent of senior executives surveyed believe that innovation has been among the top three drivers of growth for their companies. Many executives view innovation as the primary means for companies to expedite change in today's interconnected global business landscape. One such leader embracing this paradigm shift is Radhika Gupta, the MD & CEO of Edelweiss Mutual Funds, who recently joined us at the People Matters TechHR Pulse Mumbai.

From humble beginnings to innovation leadership: Radhika Gupta's story

The Managing Director and CEO of Edelweiss Mutual Fund, exemplifies the triumph of resilience over adversity. Despite being born with squint eyes and a crooked neck due to complications at birth, Radhika's spirit remained unbroken. Born to Yogesh Gupta, an Indian Foreign Service official, she experienced a childhood marked by frequent relocations across continents.

Yogesh Gupta's own journey, from a humble village in Uttar Pradesh to achieving 7th rank in civil service examinations, profoundly influenced Radhika's worldview. He instilled in her the belief in transcending limitations through education and ambition. This conviction propelled Radhika to pursue her studies abroad, viewing it as a transformative leap that would inspire future generations.

During a fireside chat, Radhika shared insights into her journey and the principles that guided her. She emphasised the importance of setting ambitious goals and having the courage to pursue them, drawing from her own experiences of overcoming obstacles. Radhika's mantra, "The key to achieving the seemingly impossible lies in having the courage to aim for the stars," resonated with the audience, inspiring them to embrace continuous growth.

In the professional realm, she highlighted the role of hands-on engagement in fostering innovation. She stressed the significance of understanding customer needs and incorporating employee feedback, citing examples of product innovations driven by grassroots insights. 

Empowering leadership: Call to confront bias and gender dynamics 

As far as we can remember, gender bias and dynamics continued to present formidable challenges for women aspiring to leadership positions. When questioned about these persistent obstacles, the CEO of Edelweiss Group, offered insights and advice born from her own experiences navigating the corporate landscape. 

Radhika's acknowledgment of the prevalence of bias and gender dynamics in leadership is a testament to the reality faced by many women in the professional world. However, rather than succumbing to these challenges, Radhika advocates for resilience and assertiveness as essential tools for overcoming them. 

“In a society where stereotypes and unconscious biases often influence decision-making processes, women must refuse to be held back by outdated perceptions or discriminatory practices. Instead, they must assert their value and capabilities with confidence and conviction. One of the key strategies is leveraging support networks. Surrounding oneself with mentors, allies, and peers who are committed to gender equality can provide invaluable guidance, encouragement, and solidarity. These networks serve as a source of strength and empowerment, enabling women to navigate complex organisational dynamics with greater resilience and resolve,” she stated.  

Furthermore, Radhika emphasised the importance of confronting instances of bias head-on. “Silence only perpetuates the status quo, while speaking up and challenging discriminatory behaviours and practices can spark meaningful change. By raising awareness, initiating conversations, and advocating for inclusive policies and practices, individuals can contribute to creating a more equitable and supportive work environment for all,” she added. 

Radhika also underscored the power of collective voice in driving change. Whether through formal channels such as employee resource groups or informal networks of like-minded individuals, coming together to amplify shared concerns and advocate for systemic change can have a profound impact on organisational culture and policies. 

The new face of HR: Catalyst for workplace culture

As the conversation shifted towards HR's role, the leader acknowledged the prevalent stereotypes associated with the department. Often viewed as administrative or bureaucratic, HR is sometimes undervalued or overlooked in discussions about organisational strategy and culture. 

However, she challenged these perceptions, highlighting the critical function that HR plays in shaping organisational dynamics. At the heart of Radhika's perspective is the recognition of HR's role in fostering a culture of trust and transparency within organisations. 

Contrary to the stereotype, “HR is not solely focused on paperwork or compliance but serves as a catalyst for building strong relationships and nurturing a positive work environment. HR professionals are instrumental in cultivating an inclusive culture where employees feel valued, supported, and empowered to contribute their best work. From implementing diversity and inclusion initiatives to facilitating open communication channels, HR plays a pivotal role in shaping the organisational culture,” she emphasised. 

Furthermore, Radhika opened up on the importance of trust in the employer-employee relationship, which lies at the core of HR's function. By fostering transparency in policies, processes, and decision-making, HR helps build trust among employees, leading to higher levels of engagement, satisfaction, and retention, she asserted. 

Building wealth with discipline: Radhika Gupta on Mutual Funds

Leveraging her extensive expertise in the field, Radhika Gupta also shed light on the transformative potential of mutual funds as a vehicle for wealth creation and financial independence. Mutual funds, according to Gupta, offer a pathway to financial freedom by providing individuals with an opportunity to invest in a diversified portfolio of assets, managed by professional fund managers. 

Unlike traditional savings accounts or fixed deposits, mutual funds offer the potential for higher returns over the long term, making them an attractive option for those seeking to grow their wealth. However, Gupta emphasised that achieving financial freedom through mutual funds requires discipline and a strategic approach to investing. "It's not just about investing money; it's about investing smartly," she remarked. 

She stressed the importance of aligning investment decisions with individual financial goals, whether it be saving for retirement, purchasing a home, or funding a child's education. Discipline, according to Gupta, is key to successful investing. "Consistency is key," she emphasised. 

By committing to regular investments and staying focused on long-term objectives, individuals can harness the power of compounding to build wealth steadily over time. Moreover, Gupta highlighted the role of financial literacy in empowering individuals to make informed investment decisions. "Education is the foundation of financial freedom," she stated. She encouraged individuals to educate themselves about the fundamentals of investing, including risk management, asset allocation, and portfolio diversification. 

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The transformation of Radhika Gupta: From Entrepreneur to CEO 

Success stories often emerge from unexpected challenges and pivotal moments. For Radhika Gupta, the journey to becoming the CEO of Edelweiss Group was marked by one such transformative project—a merger that propelled her from the realm of startups to the helm of a major financial institution.

Radhika's narrative is one of resilience, adaptability, and the relentless pursuit of growth. Born into a family that embraced change as a way of life due to her father's diplomatic career, Radhika developed a unique perspective on navigating transitions and overcoming obstacles. Little did she know that these early experiences would shape her approach to leadership in the corporate world.

The pivotal moment in Radhika's career came when she sold her startup to Edelweiss and was entrusted with leading the integration of JP Morgan Mutual Fund—a company nearly forty times the size of Edelweiss Mutual Fund at the time. The proposal was audacious, considering Radhika's limited experience in the mutual fund industry and the inherent challenges of merging two vastly different organisational cultures.

However, Radhika's innate ability to embrace change and her willingness to confront challenges head-on propelled her forward. Despite initial reservations, she accepted the challenge, recognising the opportunity for personal and professional growth. As she embarked on this ambitious project, Radhika's leadership style underwent a profound transformation.

“When I sold my startup to Edelweiss and continued to lead it, the company operated under a relatively small mutual fund umbrella, with assets totaling around 100 crores—a modest size for a mutual fund. Then, Edelweiss Mutual Fund embarked on acquiring JP Morgan Mutual Fund, a company nearly forty times its size. The head of acquisitions, a senior figure, approached me with an audacious proposal: to lead this monumental integration project. I was taken aback. Mutual funds were foreign territory to me, and the dynamics between the teams from both companies were fraught with tension. But he assured me that this endeavor would be life-changing. When people say such things to me, I tend to get excited. So, I took on the challenge. And he was right—it truly did change my life,” Radhika told us. 

Over the course of six intense months, Radhika immersed herself in the intricacies of the integration process, tirelessly working to bridge the gap between the two companies and alleviate fears among employees. What began as a daunting task evolved into a journey of self-discovery and enlightenment.

Radhika's experience during the merger taught her invaluable lessons about the importance of trust, communication, and empathy in driving organisational change. She realised that change management is not just about implementing new processes or systems—it's about building relationships, fostering collaboration, and inspiring confidence in the face of uncertainty.

By embracing a more empathetic and inclusive leadership approach, Radhika not only successfully navigated the complexities of the merger but also emerged as a respected leader within the organisation. Her ability to connect with people at all levels, coupled with her strategic vision and relentless determination, set her apart as a rising star in the financial industry.

Today, as the CEO of Edelweiss Group, Radhika Gupta continues to lead with passion, integrity, and a relentless commitment to excellence. Her journey serves as a powerful reminder that success is not determined by the challenges we face, but by how we rise above them, transform adversity into opportunity, and chart our own path to greatness.

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Topics: Leadership, Leadership Development, #HRTech, #HRCommunity, #TechHRPulseMumbai

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