The rise and fall of Rajat Gupta
The story of former MD of Mckinsey and Goldman Sachs, Rajat Gupta has always fascinated me.
For nine years, Rajat Gupta led McKinsey & Co. — the first foreign-born person to head the world’s most influential management consultancy. He was also the driving force behind major initiatives such as the Indian School of Business and the Public Health Foundation of India. A globally respected figure, he sat on the boards of distinguished philanthropic institutions such as the Gates Foundation and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and corporations, including Goldman Sachs, American Airlines, and Procter & Gamble.
He dealt with inside information, such as a planned investment by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, a sign of confidence in Goldman Sachs, amid the 2008 financial crisis. Gupta called Raj Rajaratnam seconds after the meeting and confirmed the latter’s enquiry about the Berkshire investment, without giving it much thought. This 15-second phone call led to his downfall and eventual arrest preceded by a lengthy court case on insider trading. Throughout his trial and imprisonment, Gupta has fought the charges and maintains his innocence to this day.
In his memoir, Mind without fear, Gupta recalls his unlikely rise from orphan to immigrant to international icon as well as his dramatic fall from grace. He writes movingly about his childhood losses, reflects on the challenges he faced as a student and young executive in the United States, and offers a rare inside glimpse into the elite and secretive culture of McKinsey, “the Firm.” He tells his side of the story in the scandal that destroyed his career and reputation. Candid, compelling, and poignant, Gupta’s memoir is much more than a courtroom drama; it is an extraordinary tale of human resilience and personal growth.
There are always two sides to a story and everyone has a right to present their side which is what this book is largely about. There are so many instances which one can relate to, experiences that anyone of us could have had
There are great lessons to be learnt from this book. For instance, all aspiring leaders can pick up a rule or two, if not all from ‘The Eight Laws of Rajat Gupta’ which are based on a close observation of his leadership put together by two of his friends:
1. If someone else wants to do it, let him.
2. If you have ten problems, ignore them- nine will go away.
3. Being there is 90% of the game.
4. You can’t push a noodle; find the right angle and pull.
5. The softer you blow your trumpet , the louder it will sound.
6. There is no such thing as too much work or too little time.
7. Listening takes a lot less energy.
8. When in doubt, invite them home.
I also sincerely hope one day we can get a web-series on him on one of the OTT platforms, preferably a fictional one because there is so much more in between the lines which can be read in his life journey.