Shikha Bagai

Balance, the Key to Life

Shikha who hails from a joint family proves the motto of her parents, ‘Balance is the key to life’. Balancing her work and home fronts, she believes our capabilities are always bigger than a challenging situation.

TRUST LIFE TO HOLD YOUR HAND, TOUCH THE MAGIC AS IT UNFOLDS; BECAUSE WHEN THE WORST WE FEAR ACTUALLY HAPPENS, WE REALISE LIVING IT WAS BETTER THAN FEARING IT.

“A joint family, their stories of post-partition struggle and sibling love taught me the value of selflessness,” says Shikha, when asked about her life philosophy, both professional and personal. Being big-hearted was part of the value system in a home where guests were welcome at all hours. She recalls the night before her Chartered Accountancy law exam and trying to study in a house filled with guests and the sound of laughter. When she confronted her parents, they replied, “Balance is the key to life.” The 24-year-old CA who fell in love with accounting the minute she set eyes on a balance sheet, landed her first job at the Taj Hotel in Lucknow and went on to become one of Taj’s youngest chief accountants.

Passionate about finance, she decided to move to IL&FS despite a drop in designation. “I have never had a salary or designation negotiation during my performance appraisals; I always focused on the bigger picture - capacity building, the goals of the organisation and the role I could play in achieving them.” Within months, she found herself working with a senior Executive Director whose office became the perfect training ground, and Shikha honed her skills even as she fought fires on the personal front – dealing with her husband’s health challenges and the resulting financial strain, raising her daughter and even having to leave the three-month-old baby for a week to take her CPA exam in the US. She calls this a period of ‘building fortitude’. She lived her belief that ‘our capabilities are always bigger than a challenging situation’ during this period as she faced challenges on multiple fronts; it was also a spiritually significant time for Shikha, a staunch devotee of Lord Siva. Her pursuit of professional excellence and managerial expertise led her to ISB after two years as CFO of IL&FS Securities. The highlight of her 16 years at IL&FS was supporting multiple corporate transactions, its capital markets business and incubating businesses and markets within that vertical – work that ultimately fuelled her desire to transition to another platform. She joined Aditya Birla Health as their CFO in 2016.

She talks excitedly about ‘building capacity’ and being given the opportunity to undertake a journey from start to scale for a retail cum institutional business. And she is doing all this while seeing her daughter through her board exams as well as furthering her pursuit of Bharatnatyam to which she has gone back as a performing artist after a long gap.


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