Zia Mody is an Indian legal consultant and the Managing Partner at AZB & Partners. She is considered an authority on Corporate Merger and Acquisition Law, Securities Law, Private Equity and Project Finance. She is an alumnus of Harvard Law School and worked for 5 years in the US with Baker and Mackenzie in New York City before returning to India.
She started her own practice in Mumbai in 1984 and over the years, she has built AZB & Partners as one of India’a largest and most reputed law firms. She has frequently appeared on Most powerful Businesswomen and Most Powerful CEO lists over the last several years.
In our conversation, we spoke about her take on how people should think about law as a career, her take on women growing to become leaders and the leaky pipeline there, trade-offs between work and life, what it takes to be a trusted advisor with a client, what it takes to build an institution of repute and more. This conversation was published in September 2017.
Zia talks about how her mother’s strict parenting in her early years played a key role in shaping her as a person. She talks about the criticality of the extra-curricular activities that she pursued and the differing roles that her mother and father played through her growing up years.
Zia talks about what it takes to be a successful lawyer. She also teases out the difference between traits that are good hygiene in any profession and what is specific to law. She also talks about how optionalities have changed over time for people with a law background.
Zia talks about the leaky pipeline of women leaders and talks about the key inflection points where the leakage is maximum. She talks about the false glass-ceilings that women often have in their heads.
Zia talks about how there are several hidden variables that need to be taken care of for a woman to re-enter the workforce effectively after a maternity break. She outlines the small things that a spouse could do in this context.
Zia talks about how, in her generation, the notion of work-life balance, didn’t really exist for ambitious women who wanted to make a mark in the corporate world. She candidly talks about the real trade-offs involved in her case and how that is changing.
Becoming a Trusted Advisor is often the holy grail for every Consultant, Lawyer, Banker, Doctor etc. who are providing advice to the client. Zia talks about what it takes to become a Trusted Advisor with a client.
Sound judgment is a must have for any leader in any domain. Having a sense of what makes sense all things considered is hard and critical. Zia provides her perspective on what it takes to have good Judgment from a Lawyer's perspective.
Zia talks about the journey from being a successful lawyer leading a small boutique with 15-20 people to heading a 400-person organization today. She talks about the trade-offs involved in terms of her time and cultural implications as the organization scales.
Zia talks about the key attributes that have enabled her to succeed as a lawyer and as an institution builder. She talks about how people shouldn’t be afraid to reinvent themselves if they are not having fun in what they are doing.