Sanjay Nayar & Falguni Nayar
Sanjay Nayar, chief executive officer, India, area head, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka, Citibank
Sanjay was born in 1960 in Mumbai and graduated from the Delhi College of Engineering. He completed his MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A) in 1985 and joined Citibank in India that year. He shifted to London in 1993, went to the US in 1997 and came back to India in 2002.
Falguni Nayar, managing director, Kotak Mahindra Capital Co. Ltd
Falguni was born in 1963 in Mumbai and graduated with a BCom from Sydenham College, Mumbai. She completed her MBA from IIM-A in 1985. Falguni joined a management consulting firm, AF Ferguson and Co., in 1985.
She then shifted to Kotak Mahindra Finance Ltd in 1993 to head its mergers and acquisitions business. She set up the Kotak office in London in 1994 and worked with Kotak’s joint venture partner Goldman Sachs for six months, before setting up Kotak’s US operations in 1997. She came back to India in 2001 to head the institutional equity business at Kotak and now heads the investment banking division too.
The Nayars were in the same batch (1983-85) at IIM-A. They were part of the same study group of two girls and four boys. In the entire batch of 150, there were only nine girls. “We were the early birds in the group. While others burnt the midnight oil, we used to get up early and study in the morning when all was quiet,” says Falguni. This study circle also brought them closer. They were married in 1987 and have twins—a girl and a boy—who are 17.
Boardroom to bedroom
They don’t discuss work at home and even take phone calls in separate rooms. Sanjay often has to conduct conference calls at odd hours (because of different time zones). While travelling together, Sanjay dodges calls from office on confidential issues saying he is with Falguni. She does the same.
Sanjay: There are two levels of privacy—we do not talk about deals as we are in the same field. We also don’t discuss other information which can impact markets if it is in the public domain.
Falguni: We keep things confidential from each other. We owe this to our teams.
Life is dull...
Never. “We have enough things to talk (about)—our kids, holidays, friends, investments. We also consult each other on HR issues in office and share our frustrations at times,” says Falguni.
Whose children are they anyway?
Sanjay: Ours. Of course, as a mother she does more.
Falguni: Our secretaries plan our travels meticulously. We try to avoid going out of India together. But at times that happens and the maids take care of (the) children.
They keep a close tab on each other’s diaries to avoid any conflicts.
Both are enjoying their jobs, the challenges, their ability to build businesses. They don’t want to give up and retire anytime soon.
Sanjay: Don’t bring the office home. Cut off joys and sorrows when you enter the home.
Falguni: Don’t compete with each other if you are in the same field. I don’t believe in the equality of gender debate. One must be committed to work.
Sanjay: Actually, Falguni made this nameplate.
Falguni: Well, this is a Citibank flat. I thought it appropriate to have Sanjay’s name as he works for the bank.
Sanjay Agarwal & Manisha Girotra
Sanjay Agarwal, managing director, head of global corporate finance, India, Deutsche Bank
Sanjay was born in Kanpur in 1966. He grew up in Kabul (his father, an engineer, worked with the government of Afghanistan). He is an honours graduate in commerce from Hindu College, University of Delhi, and holds an MBA from the University of Massachusetts.
Sanjay joined ICICI, a project finance institute, in 1989; shifted to ANZ Grindlays in 1992; worked as co-head of investment banking of Kotak Mahindra and chief representative of Goldman Sachs in 1996. He was the first employee of the Kotak-Goldman Sachs joint venture in India. He joined Deutsche in December 2004.
Manisha Girotra, managing director and chairperson, India, UBS Securities India Pvt. Ltd
Manisha was born in Chandigarh in 1969. She was brought up in Shimla, New Delhi, London and Mumbai since her father, a former chairman of UCO Bank, worked in all these cities. She’s an economics honours graduate from St Stephen’s College, New Delhi, and a postgraduate from the Delhi School of Economics.
Manisha started her career with ANZ Grindlays in 1992; she joined BZW, Barclays Plc.’s investment banking arm, in 1994 and shifted to UBS in 1998 as head of the Delhi office. She relocated to Mumbai in, 2002 and has been heading UBS India operations since 2003.
They met at ANZ Grindlays in 1992. Manisha was a management trainee and one of 20 girls in a batch of 50 trainees. Sanjay, a manager with the merchant banking division of ANZ Grindlays, had had a nasty accident and had been on crutches for three years. He used to tell the girls that he was an ex-soldier who had been injured in an LTTE ambush in Sri Lanka. “We were so gullible. We believed him. One of the girls even used to touch the feet of the great soldier,” says Manisha.
Sanjay fell for Manisha’s “spunk”. She could join any conversation and have the “last word”, he says. Manisha protests. She found Sanjay intelligent and passionate, both as a person and as a professional.
Before the two met at Grindlays, their parents had been keen they get married (the proposal had come through some relatives) but they had both rejected the proposal outright. They were married in 1994 and have one daughter, Tara, who is four and a half years old.
Boardroom to bedroom
Sanjay: We’ve been married long enough to learn how to keep our professional and personal lives separate. I don’t bring work home and if I need to talk to the office, I do it outside. Our clients are aware of our relationship and they trust us.
Manisha: Our profession has taught us an important thing—discipline. We respect our clients’ secrecy and do not tread on each other’s toes. But if I lose a mandate to him, I don’t serve him breakfast.
Sanjay: You mean on other days you serve me breakfast? Manisha wants every deal.
Manisha: My philosophy is very simple: UBS must be one of the top three investment banks in India. While I look for big deals—and have been doing big deals—no way will I keep my eyes off small, high quality deals.
(In 2005, both Deutsche and UBS, along with Goldman Sachs and Citi, were book runners for Infosys Technologies Ltd’s ADS listing. Till the pricing was completed, Infosys co-chairman Nandan Nilekani did not know Sanjay and Manisha were husband and wife.)
Life is dull...
Sanjay: Not at all, it’s full and hectic. Since our daughter is young and we don’t have any support system (our parents are in Delhi), it’s a constant juggle between home and work. Our parents do come when we are not around. I call our mothers “moms on wheels”.
Manisha: Our social life revolves around Tara—her friends, their birthdays. We do entertain our friends, and watch films. Life is never boring.
Sanjay: Work is exciting as you meet new people. I play racquet sports— squash, badminton and tennis—regularly.
Whose child is it anyway?
Manisha: Both of us make sure that Tara is comfortable. Since I am the mother, she expects more from me. We plan our work in such a way that at least one of us is at home at night. If we’re not there, our parents are here. In the past four and a half years, it has happened only once that neither of us was at home at night. We plan our days in advance but none of us know the exact schedule of the other.
Sanjay: I may know that Manisha is in Bangalore but I don’t know who she is meeting there.
Manisha: Sanjay says I will carry my work to my grave. But I may do something else 8-10 years from now. I’m 38 right now.
Sanjay: Women don’t repeat their age so many times.
Manisha: We are disproportionately lucky—we have achieved so much, earned so much. We could be among 10% Indians in terms of wealth. I will plan something different 10 years down the line.
Sanjay: I never set a long-term goal. I take life as it comes. At the moment, life is great and I am enjoying it. No thoughts on retirement yet.
Sanjay: The work-life balance is a much misused concept. If you are enjoying work, that’s fine. Only when you don’t enjoy it do you start talking about the balance. Be honest to yourself, take a day at a time, take it easy.
Manisha: Work hard and play hard. Respect each other’s space and ambition. Don’t treat women as just another income stream for the family. Treat her as an individual. Let her be happy. Let her be an achiever if she wants.
Manisha: We don’t have a nameplate. This is not our flat; it’s a UBS flat. If you ask the watchman in the housing society, though, he will always say Sanjay’s name. That’s life.
Gopal K Pillai & Sudha Pillai
Gopal K. Pillai, IAS, secretary, department of commerce, ministry of commerce and industry, government of India
Gopal was born in 1949 in Kerala. He grew up in New Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai. His father was a civil servant, as was his grandfather. He did his BSc in physics and chemistry from St Joseph’s College, Bangalore, then graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, before appearing for the civil services exams.
Gopal K Pillai & Sudha Pillai
Sudha Pillai, IAS, secretary,ministry of labour and employment, government of India
Sudha was born in 1950 in Shimla and spent her growing years there, and later in Chandigarh. Her father was a civil servant and her mother a teacher. She did her BA with two electives (psychology and sociology) along with an honours degree in English literature from Government College for Women, Chandigarh (now called Government College for Girls). At 18, she topped Punjab University and got a gold medal. She was awarded another gold for an MA in psychology. Sudha got a teaching assignment with her college but she was keen to join the civil services. “Though I had never wanted to be a teacher, I enjoyed the experience.” At 21, she stood second in the civil services exam and chose IAS over IFS.
Gopal and Sudha met at the National Academy of Administration (now called Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration) in Mussoorie during their training. Both belonged to the 1972 batch. “I thought she was very beautiful,” says Gopal. “I think I was attracted to her from the beginning.” Gopal says that it has been 36 years since they met but the attraction still exists. For Sudha, it was the same. “My parents were protective. I did not really spend much time alone in the company of boys. But Gopal and I shared something special.” She asked her father to meet Gopal. “He saw me in a play at (the) academy and we went out to tea to talk after it was over. Things worked out,” recalls Gopal.
During the training, like everyone else, both had to head off to their respective regions (cadre) for training. “I remember writing a letter to her in French telling her she was beautiful. I don’t think she knew what that meant,” says Gopal.
Boardroom to bedroom
Sudha: In our profession, our areas of work overlap. Also, the information we share does not create any conflict. It is tough to keep shop talk out of the home. We share our problems, and issues, and talk possible solutions.
Gopal: Sudha is my sounding board. I think our profession is such that information sharing helps us understand different viewpoints. Sharing our thoughts on work also helps us understand what’s happening on the other side. I think to split work and home totally is tough.
Life is dull...
Sudha: Never. We have many common interests such as music from Hindi movies and watching movies. I love to paint and find it very relaxing. We also enjoy gardening together.
Gopal:Movies are a big passion with us, even when we were younger and did not have enough money. During the early days of our marriage, when we were posted in different towns, Sudha visited me in Quilon, Kerala. I remember selling old newspapers to the kabadi so that I could take her to see Julie. Our son slept throughout the show.
Gopal likes to surround himself with Sudha’s paintings; his office has four of her paintings. “I like the fact that she is doing something creative.”
Whose children are they anyway?
Sudha: “Gopal loves young babies and they respond very well to him. He used to put our children to sleep with a Malayalam lullaby and he was in charge of getting them inoculated. I think our children are close to him, but for advice they still come to me.”
Gopal: “I think both our kids, Sujit and Malvika, relied on Sudha more during their younger years because she would spend more time with them. I still remember when our daughter, Malvika, was three months old; we had to put her in a crèche when Sudha resumed work. Every evening at 5pm, I would leave whatever it was I was doing, pick up Sudha and we would drive down to the crèche to pick up both our son, Sujit (who was older), and Malvika. Sudha would then stay home and I would go back to the office.”
Sudha: I want to paint some more and spend more time with Gopal after I retire, but I don’t really have any plans as such.
Gopal: After I retire, I want to teach and participate in talks. And, most importantly, I want to spend more time with my wife, something that I regret not doing in the early years of our marriage. Work took a lot out of me.
Sudha: There are adjustments to be made both at work and at home. It is doable if you set your mind to it.
Gopal: Pay more attention to your wife. Make time for each other. We talk late into the night and that has kept us clued in to each other.
It says “Pillais”.