Ishita Kapur, Vice President & Senior Counsel, Diageo India, recalls that there have been moments in her career when she questioned the efforts she had put in and the ensuing results and recognition received. “Reflecting on those moments have helped me focus on creating a vision, having courage of my convictions and unleashing the power of my team,” she says.

Ishita Kapur studied in the prestigious Loreto Convent, Tara Hall School, Shimla and spent all of her childhood there. Her father, an IAS officer was serving in Himachal while her mother taught in the same school where she studied; she laughs and says, “It was both a boon & a bane!” “My fondest memories of Shimla include building snowmen in the winters with my brother, having fireplaces lit in all rooms of the house, stealing apples from the orchards and running down hills at speeds where you cannot control your own momentum. I still don’t know how to ride a bicycle, but I could not have had a more joyful childhood,” she recalls. Until 2014, she worked with India’s leading law firm Amarchand Mangaldas and extensively worked on mergers and acquisitions, foreign investments, joint ventures, overseas direct investment and private equity deals, across various sectors. Apart from providing strategic corporate advisory services, she was involved in structuring, negotiation and documentation for such matters, including liaising with various regulatory bodies. She adds, “I learnt immensely from this job and it helped set-up a very strong foundation for the kind of lawyer that I am today.

Great Opportunity

While working at Amarchand Mangaldas, she had worked on some of the biggest M&A deals in India, but she always ended up working on the deals leading up to the acquisition and not the mayhem after the acquisition. When she learnt about a role with Diageo, she read-upon Diageo’s recent acquisition of United Spirits and jumped at the opportunity to take up this new challenge. Her parents were not perturbed when they heard she wanted to join the wine & spirits industry. All they cared was the answer to the one question – ‘How does the company treat its people?’

Role & Key Achievements

As the Vice President & Senior Counsel of Diageo India, she sits on the Diageo India Leadership Team and leads a high performing team who provide legal partnership to the Manufacturing, Procurement and Supply Chain teams and manages the Real Estate portfolio of Diageo India and its subsidiaries. Since joining Diageo in 2014 (at the time of Diageo’s majority acquisition of United Spirits Limited), Ishita has provided legal partnership to the Marketing, Customer Marketing, Innovation, Communications and CSR teams and managed the Intellectual Property portfolio of Diageo India. In these roles, she worked with Alco-Bev industry associations to create a common marketing code for the Alco-Bev Industry in India and provided strategic legal advice on brand building to Royal Challengers Sports Pvt. Ltd., which runs the Royal Challengers Bangalore IPL cricket franchise.

Enabling Environment

She has very rarely heard that the industry is a man’s domain. However, she observes: “One could see the imbalance in numbers when Diageo & United Spirits merged their businesses in 2014, but given Diageo’s focus on diversity and inclusion, it is a much different workplace today than it was when I moved from Diageo India Private Limited to USL.” “What I really like about Diageo is the focus on individual talent development. Employees in leadership positions are provided with coaches so that they can focus on specific areas that help them become more impactful leaders. Diageo has made the same investment in me which has aided my growth as a professional,” sharess Ishita. Ishita’s goal in life is to be ‘the best version of myself, both personally and professionally’. She looks up to Jasleen Kaur Oberoi, her friend & senior from Amarchand Mangaldas – now the General Counsel with JCB India. On striking a work-life balance, Ishita says: “There are good days and bad days. Some days can be a struggle, especially when you cannot discuss private matters at work and need to manage expectations both at home and at work.” When asked about the traits women must have to make big in this industry, she says, “Resilience; a tough skin; a sense of humour; and choosing the right life partner.

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