Much has been written, spoken, and discussed about women, particularly when it comes to empowerment. But, seldom have we delved into our ancient history of Indian society. Seldom have we looked into the past to decipher what the future holds, or should hold, when it comes to financial empowerment. Seldom have we seen the story of the Indian woman through the ages, as it should have been seen.

Focusing on the story of the Indian woman at the recently concluded Femvest 2021 virtual summit on women’s financial empowerment, Ms. Radhika Gupta, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer of Edelweiss Asset Management Company Limited, spoke on ‘If the Indian Woman Were a Story to be Written’.

Skills for success

“We as women have all the required skills to succeed in the world ahead of us!” Opening her talk with this powerful statement, Ms. Radhika highlighted how women of today’s era are capable of achieving anything they desire.

She observed that there’s no such notion of male versus female, but there’s something called masculine and feminine skill sets. “In this COVID-19 world, the kind of skillsets that the world is looking for, women definitely have those skills at their core. The definition of leadership due to this COVID-19 has changed,” she remarked.

The command-and-control model of sitting in a cabin, distant from employees, is perhaps not the model of leadership for the future. According to her, the model of leadership for future is that of ’empathetic leadership’. This was something that dovetailed into the story of the Indian woman as it scripted itself.

A people’s leader

“The new age leader needs to be a people’s leader,” said Ms. Radhika, continuing on the story of the Indian woman. The leader needs to be vulnerable and our mothers have been doing that since a very long time.

One imperative thing that happened in this COVID-19 is that female leadership has been celebrated across various countries. Jacinda Ardern PM of New Zealand is a true example of an empathetic leader. She is a role model of how a female leader can manage everything to perfection and her leadership attributes were celebrated across the globe.

Ms Radhika is in a business that is a customer-driven industry that is mutual funds where her products are commoditized. What the company can manufacture is largely determined by the regulators. A mid-cap fund by Edelweiss mutual fund will not be very different from that by ICICI mutual fund or HDFC mutual fund.

The product is becoming extremely commoditized. This is not true of just financial services but also for many other consumer driven industries. Delivering a personalized experience to consumers is very important as it is the base which differentiates one company from another.

Ironically, where we are asking more women to participate in finance, women have actually been tremendous budget keepers. They managed to run their houses with limited resources while making everyone happy yet finding a way to save money for a rainy day.

Historically, women have been asked to slow down and ask less. Elaborating further on how the story of the Indian woman should progress, she said, “Your career is your own responsibility, so go out and ask. As a woman, if you feel you deserve a certain position in a company then go and ask for the opportunity. You are in charge of your own story and publishing it. So the skills you need to succeed in the workplace of tomorrow, we as women already have it. The Indian woman is a story that is willing to take off so go out and write your own story.”

Smart enough to earn, smart enough to manage

Ms. Radhika was categorical on women’s savviness when it comes to finance. “If a girl is smart enough to earn her own money, then she is definitely smart enough to manage it,” she added. She can manage her home, manage her money, and honestly nobody needs to raise a question on work-life balance and how she does it.

Ms Radhika concluded her interesting talk with these beautiful lines from a poem ‘Aurat’ written by Kaifi Azmi.

“History has not known your worth thus far. You have burning embers too, not merely tears. You’re reality too, not a mere amusing anecdote. Your personality is something too, not just your youth. You’ve to change the title of your history.”