Mirae’s India portfolio includes - Ola Cabs, BigBasket, Zomato, Shadowfax, Zolo Stays, Kreditbee, Raise Financial Services, Koo App, Jai Kisan, Trell.
Mirae’s Global portfolio includes - Didi Chuxing (China), Grab (SE Asia), HappyFresh (Indonesia), Bukalapak (Indonesia), Glovo (Europe), RedDoorz (SE Asia), Deskera (SE Asia), Impossible Foods (US), Market Kurly (South Korea).
CEO at Mirae Asset Venture Investments
- Program studied
- Current Location
Q&A WITH ASHISH
Define your experience in the IMBA in one word.
What were some of the main challenges that you encountered on your way? How did your master program and IE help you through these challenges?
This was the first time I stepped out of my comfort zone, stayed away from my friends and family. At the same time, it meant that I would meet people who are culturally different and share different perspectives. Adjusting to a new culture and different perspectives was tough, but it was the most crucial skill that I had to acquire in this diverse yet connected world. The MBA made me culturally sensitive, mindful about how other people’s views have to be factored while building consensus. In fact, IE would always make our working groups as diverse as possible such that you constantly worked on these skills. These skills continue to help me when I am working on my deals as it involves working with diverse sets of people across time zones.
How did your experience at IE prepare you for your professional career? In what ways do you think program has changed your life professionally and personally?
Any MBA program is about rigour and discipline. You need to wake up at 8AM prepare your coffee and breakfast, get ready for class at 9AM, actively participate in class, then head back home for lunch, get groceries on your way, then finish your homework, return for your afternoon or evening classes, then prepare for next day classes, assignments, cook your dinner, socialize with friends, catchup with your family and friends back in India and finally step out to explore Madrid’s nightlife at 2AM! At the same time, scout for jobs during one of the toughest periods (Financial crisis) and live on a shoestring budget as a student. I repeated this for 5 days (with occasional breaks on weekends). This made me more disciplined about work and life. It made me more self-sufficient. It helped me realize value of time, money, and effort. To me, an MBA is not just about learning the hard skills like Finance or Marketing, but it’s more about the rigour and discipline as that refines you as a person. It is more about the soft skills and overall development than just a bunch of electives. That said, the quality of electives and faculty was top notch. Any learning is more about context than just text. The IE faculty members would set an excellent context while teaching, which ensured students understand the concepts and when and how they should be applied or not applied. Even today, there are times when I refer to my MBA case notes while studying a business plan or sector or while preparing a presentation.
What was networking like in the program?
Networking is often perceived as an organized session where bunch of people wear fancy suits with wine glasses in hand and exchange pleasantries. Yes, we had many such sessions at IE, but the real networking in my opinion happened in in class, in informal settings or during the “Bar of the Week” evenings. My classmates were just one message away for any help I needed on any topic during the course. Even after 9 years, my classmates are still one message away if I need their help on a cross border deal or if I need a business introduction for my portfolio. Real network value is the ability to access your colleague’s calendar on short notice and get quick actionable help than just a saved phone number or a 1st degree LinkedIn connection. IE offered this, but the onus is on each student to leverage this networking opportunity.
What was your favorite memory from your time at IE?
There are several great memories, but I consider my graduation to be a memory that I continue to cherish. It’s unfortunate that I don’t have a picture of this day, but each moment from that day is etched in my mind. It was a proud moment for me and my family as I was the first from my family to study overseas in a prestigious school.
If someone was considering going to IE, what would you tell them?
Focus on your soft skills, peer learning, make friends, have fun, and travel. These days won’t come back. Soak yourself in Spanish culture and the culture of your peers. Grades are important but not the only thing. Learning is beyond grades.
What is one thing you wished you knew, when you were a student? What advice would you give to students who are about to begin the program?
I wish I knew that it’s okay to not focus too much on grades.
On my advice to students who are about to begin program – plan your industry and career right from day zero. Take a focused approach instead of trying everything like Consulting, Investment Banking, Private Equity, Venture Capital, etc. Furthermore, any MBA course provides equal access and information to everyone, hence the outcome of an MBA program is totally on you and how you leverage it. Do not expect that if you finish the program, you will excel in life and career. Everyone finishes school, but that does not mean you will excel at life. Further excellence is not a goal, it’s a continuous journey.
Can you tell us about the day in the life of CEO?
You do the same work as a CEO as you would do an analyst. It’s just an ordinary title. Nothing has fundamentally changed in my work pattern. I have to hustle everyday like I would as an analyst, I still source deals, talk to companies, partners at peer VC firms, spend time on hiring interviews for my firm or portfolio firms, read research reports and news articles. Yes, the CEO title comes with far greater responsibility and with very less room for errors. You have to think strategically as well as tactically. You need to be really good with time management, focus on project management, and delegate the right tasks to the right set of people. You cannot scale an organization by doing everything yourself. Trust people and empower them and if they fail or make mistakes, course correct them, guide them and OWN the responsibility. Hold them accountable, but never shy away from the fact that ultimate responsibility is yours. NEVER EVER put them under the bus.
You were recently recognized as the Young & Brightest Entrepreneurs 40 under 40 in Fortune India, can you share your experience with this recognition? How do you feel?
I appreciate any recognition that comes my and my firm’s way. It makes you feel good, but at the same time it is important to not let this get in to your head. Hold your head high but keep your feet grounded always. There was someone else on this list last year and there will be someone else on this list next year. You need to stay relevant in your work and industry each year. This kind of consistency requires skill and you have to keep upskilling in this ever changing, dynamic world. As a fund manager, I get paid to be consistent return generator and not because I got lucky. I keep reiterating this to myself on a daily basis.
What has been your favourite moment of your career so far?
Closing the Tata-BigBasket deal was one of the best moments of my life. It is the largest deal by an Indian Conglomerate into an Indian start-up. This was a professional validation for me as it was my largest investment when I joined Mirae Asset in 2018.
What’s a valuable lesson you have learned throughout your career?
Be persistent in your efforts. Never get casual in your approach as it will push you into a downward spiral, which is extremely hard to reverse. Focus on upskilling yourself each year, be agile and do not get married to your views. It is totally okay to change your views as new data emerges. Be empathetic and kind as whatever industry you operate in, you will deal with humans. All these things will help you stay relevant consistently.
What is something that you are incredibly proud of?
Recently I got involved with ACT Grants, which is a COVID response effort by the start-up industry leaders. During the 2nd wave of COVID in India, there was an acute shortage of oxygen and our team got to work on a project where we were tasked with the job of sourcing over 50,000 Oxygen Concentrators, 12,000 cylinders, and other medical supplies that would be distributed all across India. I am incredibly proud that I was part of such an effort and I feel honoured to work with exceptionally devoted team members at ACT Grants. This project gave me a sense of satisfaction that is beyond any wealth or accolades. It helped all of us serve the people of our country. https://actgrants.in/
Are there any daily habits that you attribute to your success that you’d like to share, especially now with COVID-19?
Physical fitness, daily reading ritual, little bit of fun and humour to ease stress, practice daily gratitude, pay it forward approach in life.
What’s the best career advice you have ever been given?
Do everything and anything you want, just stay away from whatever is morally and ethically wrong. Morality and Ethics don’t change based on place, time, and context. They are absolute.
If you had a billboard you could display to the entire world, what would you put on it?
Pay it forward