Radhika Gupta, the Girl with a Broken Neck and the Youngest CEO of India

5 minute read
Radhika Gupta

From being born in an ordinary middle-class family of government employees to being the CEO of Edelweiss, a Fortune 500 company, Radhika Gupta has emerged as a powerful corporate leader!. Widely regarded as the Girl with a Broken Neck over the internet, Radhika fought many odds and proved herself in the ever-competitive corporate world. An Ivy League alumnus,  she went on to work at McKinsey, top financial consultancy service and then set up her own portfolio management company. Now, Radhika Gupta has become one of the most powerful voices in the Indian financial ecosystem. Let us look at the extraordinary journey of Radhika Gupta and some of the life lessons we can learn from it.

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Childhood and Education

Born in the family of Yogesh Gupta and Arti Gupta, Radhika’s father is a diplomat and thus she spent a large portion of her childhood tottering from one part of the world to another. She lived across three different continents and in countries such as Pakistan, Nigeria, America and Italy. The experience of continuous travelling in her formative years influenced her personality and broadened her mindset. Quite early on in her life, Radhika Gupta learnt not just to adapt but also to thrive amidst change. These experiences also helped her easily transition into an entrepreneur later on in her career when she resigned from her job at the prestigious AQR Capital Management to start her own venture.

Embracing her Disability

Radhika Gupta
Courtesy: The Print

Radhika Gupta was born with a permanent tilt to her neck due to certain birth complications. While it was not evident in the early years of her childhood, the tilt became prominent as she started to shed her baby fat. Radhika admitted in many of her interviews that she was extremely self-conscious about her ‘weird tilt’ and her self esteem took a beating. At one point in her life, she was afraid of losing weight as it would reveal the tilt prominently. But over time, she learned to embrace her flaws. Radhika saw her tilt from a different lens and realized it was one of the things that made her unique. It also inspired her for doing things differently. 

Radhika’s Love for Learning

Radhika describes herself as an avid learner with a penchant for reading. Growing up in a middle-class family, her parents emphasised academic excellence and she turned out to be one of the toppers in her school. Fond of mathematics and economics, she pursued a joint degree in Computer Science and Economics from the Wharton School. She came across many opportunities along the way and went in with an open mind. In an interview, she revealed that she was the first person in her family to venture into the corporate sector, specifically finance. She also believes that “a subject doesn’t need to be a childhood passion for it to become your profession later on. Going with the flow helps you gain perspective too.”

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Staying True to Oneself

While in Nigeria, Radhika Gupta studied at the American International School. Her school classmates hailed from rich families who engaged in expensive hobbies such as horse riding etc. When she expressed her desire to inculcate a hobby, her parents insisted that she learn bridge. She described herself as a simple girl who studied very hard and played bridge since the age of 13. 

While applying to Ivy League colleges in America, she realized that her humble background may not be particularly helpful in fetching an admission. When she asked her mother what she would say, considering the fact that she wasn’t an Olympic medalist, a musical award winner or unlike any of the typical students admitted into Ivy Leagues, her mother advised her to stay true to herself. Her honesty and simplicity came off as a breath of fresh air and Radhika was offered admission into the prestigious Wharton Business school.

In an interview, she revealed that when she was being interviewed for a job at Mckinsey by a senior partner that conversation lasted for 90 minutes during which she spoke about Bridge for 85 minutes. Turns out the senior partner Diane was herself a bridge champion who had participated in numerous tournaments. Fascinated by a young girl who played bridge since age 13, she was hired immediately. Radhika always insists on being true to oneself because there will always be some interested in our story.

Bouncing Back after Rejection

Radhika Gupta
Courtesy: Value Research

After passing out from Wharton, Radhika Gupta appeared for 7 interviews only to get rejected each time consecutively. She admitted going to a dark place and getting clouded in self-doubt. That was the lowest point in her life. Radhika revealed that she stood at the edge of her balcony and contemplated jumping from the 19th floor. But for Radhika, the 8th time was the charm. She cracked her 8th interview with Mckinsey after which her career skyrocketed. After spending a year and a half at McKinsey, Radhika moved then worked at AQR Capital Management as a portfolio manager. After her stint at AQR, Radhika along with her husband moved to India to start her own project ‘Forefront Capital Management’. Later on, it was acquired by Edelweiss and Radhika was appointed as the CEO of Edelweiss Asset Management Limited. 

Power of Stories

Radhika Gupta
Courtesy: The Financial Pandora

Radhika Gupta is also a motivational speaker and aims to uplift and inspire the youth. Her video titled ‘That Girl with a Broken Neck’ garnered over a million views. She believes  “I always try and use elements of my own life stories and narrate them to people, whether they’re employees, clients or students attending my talks. Storytelling is a powerful medium and can inspire people to another level .” Additionally, Radhika acknowledges the fact that women’s struggles to establish themselves in a corporate world are disproportionately higher. She also hopes to inspire young girls and increase the rate of women in the workforce. 

Her Ultimate Inspiration

Radhika Gupta owes the credit for her success to her father who inspired her to aim for the sky. She mentioned her father as her inspiration, who was born and brought up in a village in UP and ranked 7th in his civil service examinations. Her father’s piece of advice to her was that to come out of poverty, every generation has to make a quantum leap. He motivated her to study abroad and make that quantum leap so that she could enable future generations to accomplish further. 

This was all about the inspirational journey of Radhika Gupta. From contemplating suicide to becoming one of the youngest CEOs of India, Radhika’s journey is nothing short of inspiring. To know more about such inspirational women personalities, follow our latest ‘Her Vision’ series at Leverage Edu and read the best 62 stories of Ultimate inspiration that will leave you mesmerized!

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  1. I am Mithilesh Prasad aged 75 + years retired from SAIL as Dy General Manager in 2008 . I appreciate your work & the way you have achechived your goal. Unfortunately, I also have my eldest son suffering from ” Celebral Palsy _ Spastic type” aged now 54+ but pulling on . No alternative , Live as God desires

  1. I am Mithilesh Prasad aged 75 + years retired from SAIL as Dy General Manager in 2008 . I appreciate your work & the way you have achechived your goal. Unfortunately, I also have my eldest son suffering from ” Celebral Palsy _ Spastic type” aged now 54+ but pulling on . No alternative , Live as God desires