'Women are taking on more executive leadership roles'

Swati Roongta Agarwal

Director, Laxmi Bank & Managing Partner, Nepal Global Equity Fund

‘When you truly believe in something give it your 100%’ is what Swati Roongta Agarwal, Director of Laxmi Bank and Managing Partner of Nepal Global Equity Fund lives by. She says that one must be dedicated to their goal to such an extent that the thought of achieving it shouldn’t let you sleep. “When a person has the gift of enthusiasm nothing can stop her,” she adds for good measure.

Apart from several internships, Agarwal’s first job was with the Credit Suisse Bank in investment banking. After a successful two-year stint, she decided to return to Nepal to seek out opportunities in investment and portfolio management. “With my education and experience, I got the opportunity to represent public investors as the Director of Laxmi Bank,” she explains also saying that she also was part of the board as an Independent Director of Prime Life Insurance. “I was the youngest female independent director in the insurance sector in Nepal.”

In 2019, Securities Board of Nepal introduced Specialised Investment Fund Regulations which allowed opportunities for creating special purpose vehicles such as private equity, venture capital and hedge funds for investments in businesses in Nepal, she shares. “I joined Global Equity Fund, which is a private equity and venture capital fund, as its Managing Partner to create funds which invest in growth-stage companies in the country,” she shares.

In a short span, Agrawal has been able to make a mark as a sound professional and an achiever. What does success mean to her? “If a person is happy in whatever they are doing, they are truly successful.” This, she points out, is irrespective of what one chooses to do in life, whether one is a farmer or the CEO of a large company.

In this edition of Business 360, we caught up with Agarwal to learn about the five things that have influenced her work and life.

Breaking out of the cocoon

The biggest life-changing and life-defining decision I made was after passing my SLC exams. I decided to break out of the cocoon and move out of my hometown and go to India for further education. It taught me to be tough, motivated, independent, and to always pursue my dreams and aspirations.

My father, my inspiration

My father has been the most hard-working person I have ever seen. Even without any formal education, he has built multiple businesses from the ground up across various sectors through sheer hard-work, focus and determination.

Learn to dream

The most significant advice which I have received and follow is to be able to set your dreams and goals, be aspirational, and give it your 100% to achieve it. There will always be times when things may not work out as planned but with every challenge, there is always an opportunity. For instance, as with each and every sector in the country, the Covid pandemic adversely affected the operations of Global Equity Fund (GEF). We have been impacted as we were seeking licence from Securities Board of Nepal but due to two consecutive lockdowns, our licence process has been severely impacted. We have received the pre-operating licence which has allowed us to start operations but we are still awaiting the final operating licence.

However, the pandemic has given us opportunities to evaluate which businesses have the mettle to survive such adverse scenarios. At the same time, it has allowed new-age businesses to emerge and grow. In addition, PE/VC Fund provides Risk Capital to businesses to survive so it also gave us an opportunity to invest in sectors that were adversely impacted by Covid lockdowns so that it can be scaled back to its original stage and grow to the next level.

Life will have its ups and downs

I always believe that life has its ups and downs. The first and foremost thing is to step out of the emotions of the situation and evaluate objectively and rationally the pros and cons of the situation. It helps us to come to the most effective conclusion, and decision-making becomes much more thought-out and pillared on rationale and logic.

Women have risen to the task

The day we stop having the need for questions like how effective women leaders have been is the day men and women will be truly equal. But on a more serious note, in today’s day and age, women have been taking a much more active role in leading organisations, businesses and decision-making in all spheres and sectors. The life-experiences of a woman goes to help her naturally become tougher and hardened leader.

Women have always had an impact in the world of finance and banking, but they are being observed closer than ever in today’s market. Women are taking on more executive leadership roles across the board in the financial and banking world, ncluding private equity and venture capital. In Nepal as well we have examples of women leading in banks and other areas of financial services.

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Business 360 is a magazine that delivers on quality business news content, profiles of entrepreneurs and leaders, features on issues that matter, articles that assess and analyze policy and delivery mechanisms in the world of trade and commerce

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