Manisha Girotra

MANISHA GIROTRA is a partner and Chief Executive Officer of Moelis and Company in India. Manisha was previously the CEO and Country Head of UBS in India with a career spanning 16 years with UBS in Mumbai, Delhi and London. Prior to joining UBS, she worked with Barclays and ANZ banking group. She was also instrumental in the setting up of UBS offshore development centers in India which was scaled up to about 5000 staff in a period of five years. Manisha has led successful executions of several landmark transactions including the US$ 5bn merger of Grasim and Ultratech’s cement business, Reliance Power’s US$ 2.6bn IPO, Zain’s US$ 10.7bn sale to Bharti Airtel, Vodafone’s US$ 13bn acquisition of HTIL’s interest in Hutch Essar, Birla Group’s US$ 6b acquisition of Novelis, UB Group’s US$ 1.2bn acquisition of Whyte and Mackay amongst others. Manisha graduated in Economics from St Stephen’s College, Delhi and was awarded the Dr. Manmohan Singh Gold Medal for academic excellence for her Masters degree from the Delhi School of Economics. Manisha was named as one of the ‘15 Women to Watch in Asia’ by Forbes in 2008. She also is the top 25 Most Powerful Women in Business in India’ by Business Today for 5 consecutive years and has appeared in Fortune “Top 50 in Business in India” in 2014.

Our Exclusive Interview:

What is your definition of a good leader?

I believe that Leadership is the art of leading others to deliberately create a result that wouldn’t happen otherwise.
A good leader takes charge. She has the personality, courage of conviction, ambition and vision to succeed. A good leader draws out the best in each individual and drives organizational success. She inspires others to push beyond their comfort zone to dream more and do more and take ownership of the outcome collectively. Today’s leader must empower to lead effectively.

How do you think organizations should evaluate/measure “quality of leadership”?

Organisations should do a 360º evaluation of leaders – their supervisors, peers and team members should be asked to evaluate them and their success/failure should be based on the consolidated feedback of all these constituents.

How can one improve one’s leadership skills?

Few ways to improve your leadership skills are:
(i) Have a clear vision and articulate it clearly. Take the time to share your vision, goals and objectives with your team. Include your team in setting out your vision and continually strive to improve your speaking and listening skills.
(ii) Be a role model and live by your morals and values. Best leaders walk the talk and lead from the front with integrity and by aligning your goals with your morals and values.
(iii) Be willing to admit and learn from failures and weaknesses. Failures are inevitable and the key is to learn from your mistakes.
(iv) Continue to educated and improve yourself. Always grow and learn – keep yourself relevant and others will respect you.

What are the three most important challenges in front of leaders in today’s times?

i) Managing change: In today’s global environment,constantly changing market environment and shifting technology-change is a key element to managing organisational success and indeed survival is the ability to respond swiftly to change. Leaders have to lead from the front – anticipate these changes and develop strategies to remain relevant and successful.
(ii) Challenges arising from leadership itself: Real leadership makes great demands on people – personal sacrifices, continuously reinventing themselves, being passionate and energetic and positive 24 x 7 – leaders have to re-energise themselves, motivate themselves for the job and its challenges and avoid burnout.
(iii) Internal challenges: A leader always must motivate all his very ambitious team members, face conflict squarely, look for common ground amongst team members while still retaining ones objectivity. A leader should always ensure that the conflicts are resolved keeping in mind the mission and philosophy of the organization.

What in your views are most effective ways/techniques for grooming future leaders?

(i) Lead by example: be a role model for the team. Be professional, be decisive, be humble, be ethical, be supportive and treat colleagues well. The leadership skills you want to see in the next gen leaders should be the same ones they see in you daily.
(ii) Invest in training and development: in today’s day and age, technologies are very disruptive and are quickly making old business models redundant. It is very important in this environment that we update employee skills regularly through formal training. A leader cannot lead the team if he/she becomes unfamiliar/dated with the changing environment. Invest in good people and recognize good employees – the more you invest in people, the better leaders you will have and the more long term success.
(iii) Share in success: always share the credit of your success with your team. Team leaders will develop their skills and feel for more ownership for their organisations if they are rewarded as stakeholders in the business.

When should a leader call it quits?

One key challenge which most of us find difficult to get around is when to quit. The short answer – quit when you know you could invest your time and resources better somewhere else that delivers more impact and allows you to be more fully yourself.

Which leader in the Corporate world do you admire and why?

Steve Jobs: Jobs co-founded Apple at the age of 21, and was a millionaire by 23. He recruited an experienced CEO, who three years later fired Jobs from Apple. Jobs set up a new company, sold it to Apple and came back as CEO of Apple several years later, becoming one of the most successful CEOs of the world’s most successful company.

He used his failure as a stepping stone, a teacher and it gave him a proper perspective on success. He came back bigger and better.