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7 Questions on Leadership with Rakhi Bhattacharya


Name: Rakhi Bhattacharya


Title: Senior Director, Global Head of Transfer Pricing


Organisation: Fiserv Inc.


Location: United States


Rakhi is the Senior Director and Global Head of Transfer Pricing at Fiserv, a global Fintech industry leader and heads up the global tax strategy and risk mitigation planning function. She has extensive experience in tax strategy for intellectual property planning, designing tax-efficient structures and managing tax controversy negotiations. Rakhi developed her leadership skills working with Big Four consulting firms and large global banks and is a subject matter expert in implementing an efficient tax risk-controlled environment.


Rakhi is a committed and sincere leader and a people’s advocate who has led her team to consistently deliver efficiencies. She is heavily involved in mentoring and training her team to help team members learn and grow to become future leaders. Rakhi holds an MS from Harvard Business School and an MBA from Clark University. She successfully applies her business acumen to lead her teams to achieve new heights. In 2023 Rakhi was honored with the Top Women Leaders of NJ award for her leadership and mentoring roles. Outside of work, Rakhi loves to travel, and read and enjoys cooking for her family and friends.


Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!


I hope Rakhi's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Cheers,

Jonno White



1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?


Reflecting on my journey as a leader, several key milestones and challenges have profoundly shaped my career trajectory. One significant milestone was when I first entered the workforce, filled with determination and ambition to make a meaningful impact in my chosen field.


However, I quickly encountered the challenge of navigating the corporate environment where biases and stereotypes, both voluntary and involuntary, often created barriers to advancement. Overcoming these challenges required resilience and a steadfast commitment to my goals.


One of the most transformative milestones in my journey was when I embraced my authentic leadership style, recognizing the value of empathy, collaboration, and inclusivity. This shift not only enhanced my effectiveness as a leader but also empowered me to mentor and advocate for others in the workplace. Each promotion, project success, and opportunity to lead served as a milestone, affirming my capabilities and breaking down stereotypes along the way.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?


I graduated from Mumbai University in India and moved to Boston, USA for graduate-level studies. I eventually started working in Boston and then New York and made a home for myself there. As an aspiring leader, I drew upon my professional journey as a first-generation immigrant to develop a work ethic steeped in resilience, determination, and a fearless approach to success.


My path has been shaped by hard work and dedication, navigating challenges with unwavering resolve to carve out a place for myself in the corporate world. As a leader, first and foremost I learned to be bold in my ambitions and unapologetic in my pursuit of success. Embrace your unique strengths, perspectives, and experiences as a source of power and resilience.


As a first-generation immigrant, I've learned the importance of leveraging my diverse background as a competitive advantage, bringing fresh insights and innovative solutions to the table. Sincerity is another key pillar of leadership that I continue to emphasize. I strongly recommend staying true to your values, principles, and vision, even in the face of adversity. Take risks, embrace challenges, and never shy away from advocating for yourself and others. This has forged my path to leadership.


3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?


Since I head up the transfer pricing planning and strategy function globally, my days start early and sometimes end late :) I am usually up before 6 am and after breakfast tackle the most urgent emails to give guidance to teams in various time zones globally and get the day going.


I get to work early by 7:30 and my mornings are spent in continuing discussions with global teams in Asia, followed by Europe to make the most of their working hours given the time zones. As the day progresses, I shift focus to North America and Latin America issues. I utilize my late afternoons to catch up on to-do lists and plan for the next day/work week.


I also carve out 1 hour each day to spend one-on-one time with team members as a touch point to cover their thoughts/concerns. Keeping the team connected is key to ensuring a smooth and efficient work environment. Evenings are spent with family/friends and unwinding over food and laughter. Before bedtime, I send out a quick couple of emails to Asian/European teams to get them started for the next workday while I focus on getting my beauty sleep!


4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?


A recent leadership lesson that deeply resonated with me centres around the crucial role of mentoring in cultivating future leaders. This lesson was vividly brought to light during my collaboration with a new team member on a critical global project. As we worked together, I recognized their struggles in acclimating to the demands of their role, reminiscent of challenges I faced early in my career.


I recalled a pivotal project where I led a cross-functional team through complex challenges crucial to our company's growth strategy. Throughout this endeavour, I was fortunate to receive mentorship from senior leaders who imparted invaluable wisdom and perspectives. One mentor, in particular, offered guidance on navigating corporate dynamics and fostering strategic alliances.


This experience underscored the significance of soft skills, such as mentoring, in achieving career success. It highlighted that while technical proficiency is essential, the ability to mentor and be mentored is the vital link that empowers individuals to navigate challenges, advocate for resources, and drive impactful change within organizations.


5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?


One book that has profoundly influenced my leadership journey is "My Life in Full" by Indra Nooyi. Nooyi's narrative resonated deeply with me, particularly her challenges in navigating the delicate balance between work, life, and family commitments as a woman in corporate America and a first-generation immigrant.


She balanced her family and work commitments successfully over a 30-year career span and reached the pinnacle of success as the CEO of PepsiCo. As I immersed myself in Nooyi's memoir, I found myself drawing parallels between her experiences and my own. Her insights into the complexities of leadership provided me with a new perspective on overcoming obstacles and embracing diversity and compassion in leadership.


Moreover, Nooyi's candid reflections on the importance of resilience, determination, and authenticity left an indelible mark on my leadership philosophy. Her ability to lead with grace and integrity, even in the face of adversity, inspired me to cultivate similar qualities within myself.


The impact of "My Life in Full" extends beyond its pages, as it continues to serve as a guide in my leadership journey. It has empowered me to embrace my unique identity, navigate challenges with resilience, and strive for excellence in both my professional and personal endeavours.


6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?


If I could offer just one piece of advice to a young leader, it would be this: cultivate a mindset that values both hard work and resilience while prioritizing the development of oneself and others.


As a leader, it's crucial to recognize the importance of being a subject matter expert in technical matters. However, equally significant is acknowledging the diverse skill sets and capabilities of each individual within the team. Matching these skill sets to the appropriate work environment and setting realistic expectations is essential for fostering a culture of success.


Furthermore, leaders must possess open minds, empathy, and a supportive demeanour. Embracing these qualities enables leaders to understand and appreciate the unique challenges faced by each team member while providing the necessary guidance and encouragement for growth.


Ultimately, my advice to young leaders is to strive for excellence through hard work, resilience, and continuous self-improvement, all while recognizing and valuing the efforts of every individual within the team. This approach not only fosters a collaborative and inclusive work environment but also lays the foundation for sustainable success and growth.


7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?


One particularly meaningful story from my journey as a leader resonates deeply with my childhood aspirations and early experiences in the corporate world. As a child, I used to emulate my father's work routine, eagerly donning a bag and pretending to head off to the office. This childhood fascination with the world of work evolved into a deliberate pursuit of leadership skills during my time in business school, where I immersed myself in courses aimed at honing my abilities as a future leader.


One pivotal moment occurred early in my career when I had the opportunity to interview with a high-level regional partner at a prestigious consulting firm. What struck me most about this encounter was the partner's humility and genuine respect for me, despite my status as an entry-level analyst. His approach highlighted the essence of true leadership — recognizing not just what is evident today, but also envisioning and nurturing the potential within individuals for the future.


In his demeanour and actions, he demonstrated how leaders could inspire and guide their team members to realize their future potential, regardless of their current position or status. His inclusive and respectful approach fostered a sense of belonging and empowerment within the team, encouraging us to willingly follow his lead, not merely because of his title, but because of his character and vision.


This experience profoundly influenced my understanding of leadership, emphasizing the importance of treating every team member with dignity and respect and nurturing their growth and development. It is a constant reminder of the transformative impact of genuine leadership on individuals and teams, inspiring me to strive for excellence in my leadership journey while remaining open to learning and growth every day.

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