Making it to the top in finance is a tough path to follow, especially for women. Women have to work harder, earn lesser, at least initially, and face gender discrimination at various levels before they can make it to the top of the ladder. What makes the journey better, however, is having a mentor. Having someone who can guide you through a career they’ve already mastered is always a source of comfort. One such woman is Surabhi Chauhan, who made a successful career in fund management and investment at a time when this was a completely male-dominated field. Even for women with a career in finance, her speciality was considered odd. Now, Surabhi Chauhan is considered one of the leading names in investment and finance in India.
Recently, Surabhi Chauhan was also a part of the Find Them On Bumble campaign, led by Priyanka Chopra Jonas for Bumble Bizz. So, we caught up with her for a quick chat about her life in finance and her advice for women stepping into the field.
All About Eve: A woman in business, or even one with a career, in India was a novel concept till very recently, and now we have Bumble Bizz, celebrating a community of such women. How do you think this will help to encourage more female entrepreneurship in India?
Surabhi Chauhan: There is a saying, “Your Network is your net worth”. Through Bumble Bizz, female entrepreneurs can make relevant connections with different stakeholders such as potential customers, vendors, investors, VCs etc. This will help them to move ahead in their business. Bumble Bizz is making women more confident by giving them an option to initiate or take charge of their conversation. Women entrepreneurs need to follow the same approach in their work life as well.
AAE: What do you think is the step forward to bring more Indian women into the professional fold?
SC: At the corporate level, it is essential to have women mentors and have more women in leadership roles. An environment for mentorship needs to be in every company. This is one of the most basic steps to start with.
AAE: Everyone faces some sort of obstacles in their line of work, at least in the beginning. What sort of challenges have you faced in your career?
SC: Since I officially started my career in the financial markets at the age of 19, I faced challenges on account of my age and gender. People perceived me as too young and unfit for hardcore fund management or analysis. They were giving preference to age and gender over talent or merit.
In my field, which is male dominated, women still face stereotypes in terms of work assigned to them. People think a woman in the financial sector is supposed to do client engagements, sales and marketing, not the hardcore fund and investment management or number crunching job.
AAE: What made you choose investment and finance as a career?
SC: My inclination towards numbers, my inquisitive nature, Warren Buffett’s story, my early stage mentors, my dreams to be financially sound and independent are a few of the reasons which made me choose a career in investment and finance.
AAE: What advice would you give to young women who are just starting their careers?
SC: Be confident, have a thicker skin, don’t be too sensitive, and set your goals high. Be willing to work your hardest to succeed, be assertive and make the connections you feel you need to make. Most importantly, follow your passion initially and don’t blindly run behind monetary gains.
We hope this interview has motivated you to achieve your dreams. For more inspiration, check out our interviews with entrepreneur and designer Pernia Qureshi, Pooja Dhingra of Le15 Patisserie, artist Alicia Souza and Pilates guru Namrata Purohit.