Akila Agrawal, Partner, Amarchand Mangaldas & Suresh A. Shroff & Co.
How long have you been working for your current company?
Briefly explain your career history and what led you to your current position.
I graduated from National Law School, Bangalore in 1999. I was an in-house counsel in Wipro Limited, Bangalore for more than two years and then joined Amarchand Mangaldas in 2002 as an associate. I moved up the ranks and was made partner in 2008.
What is your proudest professional achievement and why?
My proudest professional achievement was when we successfully completed the Oracle-i-Flex transaction and open offer in the year 2005. It was a complex transaction and I was entrusted with very high responsibilities.
What are the greatest challenges that you face in your current role and what do you do to
One of the greatest challenges that I face in my current role is maintaining a balance between time spent on developing the business and the execution of work. When the work pressure is high, I find it difficult to take time out to meet people. I try to address this by being disciplined and organized about both aspects.
How difficult is it for you personally to attain work-life balance and how do you endeavour
to do this?
Since I have two little kids, aged eight and three, it is a constant challenge to maintain the balance between work and family. My husband’s support, living close to office and the generous help of my extended family are some of the factors that help me achieve this balance. Of course, the
biggest support comes from my kids themselves. They are considerate towards my work.
Did you have a mentor or role model in your career or while you were studying law? Who
were they and how did they help you?
Mr. Shardul Shroff has played a very positive role in my career. I trained under him during my initial years.
How effective do you think corporate diversity initiatives are? What methods do you think
are most effective and why?
I think corporate diversity initiatives are very important. In our firm, we have people from all parts of India. There are equal number of men and women at all levels including in the partnership. Whilst we do not have a documented diversity policy as such; it is definitely followed in practice. I
think simple practical methods are the most effective. For example, we have a day care centre at our office. It has been an effective method of retaining good female talent.
Were there any points in your career when you felt you were at a disadvantage or at an
advantage because you were female?
What do you think have been the most significant changes for women in the legal industry
over the past five years?
I believe that technology is the most significant change for women in the legal industry in the past five years. Blackberries, iPads, Citrix, VPN, video conferences etc have made work life easier. It is easier to juggle work and family with the help of such facilities / devices.