The Market Guru: Nilesh Shah According to Shah, the most important thing is to be aware that we are not perfect. "As long as we are paranoid, we will learn to adapt and continue to evolve."

By Priya Kapoor

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Nilesh Shah, MD & CEO, Kotak Mutual Fund

From starting his career as a merchant banker with ICICI merchant banking division to occupying the position of CEO of a mutual fund house, Nilesh Shah has indeed come a long way in the last three decades. "When I joined Kotak in 2015, my focus was to create a team of passionate people, driven by a process and a common purpose to provide financial freedom to every Indian. We created a force multiplier with passion, purpose and a process," says Nilesh Shah, MD & CEO, Kotak Mutual Fund.

Shah says that he set goals for the organization in consultation with the team. "They are empowered to execute the plans. There is regular measurement to ensure that we are on track. I am available for any course correction. One leadership lesson is to remember that a team with a passion and purpose can create wonders," says Shah who was also elected AMFI chairman in 2019 replacing ICICI Mutual fund CEO Nimesh Shah.

On steps he is taking to create long-term value for shareholders and employees, Shah says, the long term value is created by sustainable growth with appropriate margins. "If business creates value, shareholders and employees can share it. If we have the mind share of our investors, pocket share will follow. Our business and value will grow as long as we add value to our investors and partners."

According to Shah, the most important thing is to be aware that we are not perfect. "As long as we are paranoid, we will learn to adapt and continue to evolve."

Shah remembers the most difficult challenge he faced was regarding launching a 'fund of funds' three years ago for investment in innovative companies globally, which is still down by 16 %. "We are keeping our investors informed of the performance. We believe transparency and communication is the best strategy."

Learning from others and always ready to learn is the mantra Shah swears by. "I go to my mentors when I am in doubt. The only constant is the change in the world. I keep reminding myself that I need to do better today than yesterday by learning something new. As long as I am a student with an open mind, I will keep on evolving."

At a time when there are reports that AI will replace jobs, Shah thinks it to be a tool for productivity enhancement. "As a company we offer training programs to our employees for skill upgradation. There is also a team culture to learn from each other. Two are better than one works especially in learning new things."

So is leadership challenging? "Yes, even at the best of times for the MF Industry, I have to challenge my organization to grow faster than others. As a leader you want to create an organization which is better today than yesterday and which is creating sustainable growth with appropriate margins. That path isn't as easy as it sounds. It is full of challenges. If you have a team with passion, purpose and a process the organization can overcome all the challenges."

Fact File

• Age: 54

• Year of joining the current organization: 2015

• Total team size: 600

• AUM: 3.25 trillion

• Most memorable moment as a leader: When I get blessed by my investors and partners for doing my job.

Priya Kapoor

Feature Editor

Priya holds more than a decade of experience in journalism. She has worked on various beats and was chosen as a Road Safety Fellow in 2018, wherein she produced many in-depth & insightful features on road crashes in India. She writes on startups, personal finance and Web3. Outside of work, she likes gardening, driving and reading. She can be reached at her email id:




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