Sheila Dharmarajan Interview – A Career in Private Equity, Investment Banking & Business Media Reporting

Intersections Match Talk Radio – Professional Development Spotlight Series: Live Your Potential - A Monthly series on Professional Development Topics. 

“A Career in Private Equity, Investment Banking & Business Media Reporting
Jasbina Ahluwalia interviews Sheila Dharmaajan

Jasbina interviews Sheila Dharmarajan, Head Business Development ZelnickMedia & Former CNBC Reporter.

From Sheila Dharmarajan, you will learn about:

  1. A career in Private Equity, Banking & Business Media Reporting
  2. Managing work-life-balance
  3. Leading as a South Asian Woman  

 

A few topics Sheila Dharmarajan address in this interview are:

  1. (1:45)     Absorb Everything: Career Advice
  2. (5:00)   How To Get Into Investment Banking
  3. (6:08)   Breaking Into Television Reporting
  4. (9:52)    Enter Private Equity: How To
  5. (12:01)  Balance of Work and Life: Long-Term
  6. (15:27)  Life Partner For Long Haul
  7. (19:50) Making The Best Life Decisions

 

Sheila Dharmarajan joined ZelnickMedia in 2014. Ms. Dharmarajan is Head of Business Development at ZelnickMedia and is responsible for originating investment opportunities and outreach.

Prior to joining ZelnickMedia, Ms. Dharmarajan was an on-air television reporter for CNBC and Bloomberg Television, where she regularly reported on a wide range of business news and breaking stories. She has also served as the host of “The Future Is Now”, a Yahoo! web series focused on innovation and cutting edge technologies.

Before her foray into television, Ms. Dharmarajan was an investment professional at both Permira and Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe, where she focused on analyzing and executing private equity investments across a range of industries including healthcare, consumer / retail and information services. Ms. Dharmarajan began her career as an investment banking analyst at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette and was an associate director in the mergers & acquisitions group at IAC/InterActiveCorp.

Ms. Dharmarajan graduated from the Wharton School at the University Of Pennsylvania, earning a BS in Finance and Management. Ms. Dharmarajan also earned her MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

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Jasbina Ahluwalia

(00:47):  Hello everyone. Welcome to Intersections Match’s Talk Radio, a monthly holistic lifestyle show focused on the continual evolution into the best versions of our authentic selves. This is Jasbina, your host. I’m the Founder of Intersections Match, the only elite national personalized matchmaking company focused on singles of South Asian descent nationwide in the US.

As a coach and matchmaker to high-achieving South Asians who are interested in designing lives of significance, I’m always interested in fresh perspectives from authors, researchers, experts and readers in both the South Asian community and broader mainstream communities beyond. Aligned with designing lives of significance, we have our monthly Professional Development Spotlight Series, Live Your Potential.

Today’s guest speaker is Sheila Dharmarajan. Welcome to the show, Sheila.

 

Sheila Dharmarajan

(1:41): Hi. Thank you so much for having me, Jasbina. It’s great to be here.

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Jasbina Ahluwalia                                                

Absorb Everything: Career Advice

(1:45): It’s a pleasure to have you. Sheila is the Head of Business Development at ZelnickMedia and is responsible for originating investment opportunities and outreach.

Prior to joining ZelnickMedia, Sheila was an on-air television reporter CNBC and Bloomberg Television where she regularly reported on a wide range of business news and breaking stories. She also served as a host of The Future is Now, a Yahoo! web series focused on innovation and cutting edge technology.

Before her foray into television, Sheila was an investment professional where she focused on analyzing and executing private equity investments across a range of industries, including healthcare, consumer retail and information services.

Sheila graduated from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, earned a BS in Finance and Management and earned her MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Welcome again, Sheila.

You have a variety of professional experiences. I’m wondering if you have any interesting experiences or anecdotes to share with our listeners regarding your early years as an investment professional, especially as a South Asian woman.

 

Sheila Dharmarajan

(3:58): I had a big takeaway that I learned at the beginning of my career, particularly when I was in investment banking.

There is a lot of urban legend and lore about investment banking, the hours that you work, some of the crazy things you have to do and all the hard work you have to put in. All of that is true.

One thing I learned early on in life is, just being in the room is a huge learning experience.

Elaborating on Absorb Everything: Career Advice.

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Jasbina Ahluwalia

How To Get Into Investment Banking

(5:00): That’s wonderful insight. For those who are interested in entering investment banking, do you have any insights as to how to get their foot in the door to have those opportunities?

 

Sheila Dharmarajan

(5:20): I was very lucky in my professional career because I went to a school like Wharton, which is very well hooked-in to the investment banking community.

Elaborating on How To Get Into Investment Banking.

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Jasbina Ahluwalia

Breaking Into Television Reporting

(6:08): What led to your interest in becoming an on-air reporter for CNBC and Bloomberg?

Do you have any interesting experience, insights or anecdotes to share with our listeners regarding your years as a reporter?

 

Sheila Dharmarajan

(6:27): It’s a pretty unusual path. Here I was in this very traditional investment banking, private equity background.

I went to business school. I thought I was going to be a Wall Street lifer.

Elaborating on Breaking Into Television Reporting.

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Jasbina Ahluwalia

Enter Private Equity: How To

(9:52): Wow, I love all of the messages that you just shared in that. I love how you connected the dots and said, “I have all of these experiences and I want to bring them together.”

Your follow-up was great. You were confident. I’m sure there are many other people who would be thinking, “Woulda, coulda, shoulda.” But you actually did it. That is very inspirational.

You’re now in private equity. Do you have any insights or guidance for listeners interested in entering that field? You talked about the hustle.

 

Sheila Dharmarajan

(10:40): I ended up having this amazing television reporting career for four and a half years. Then it was time for another pivot in my career. I was ready to come back to finance.

Elaborating on Enter Private Equity: How To.

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Jasbina Ahluwalia

Balance of Work and Life: Long-Term

(12:01): The evolution of the field is interesting. Now, people of all different backgrounds can find a place in the industry.

I know you are a graduate of Wharton. I’ve spoken at Wharton, Columbia and HBS at women’s student conferences.

Regardless of the panel that I was participating in or moderating, the issue of work/life balance invariably came up.

As a high-achieving professional, wife and mother, do you have any guidance for women who are in or are planning to enter a high-pressure career?

 

Sheila Dharmarajan

(12:51): I think that’s part of it. That idea of this perfect work/life balance, looking good while doing it and wearing high heels is really elusive.

I don’t think people should try and achieve that.

One of the best pieces of advice that I received about work/life balance is, don’t think about it from a day-to-day perspective or, “Is my life balanced?” from a 24-hour perspective.

Elaborating on Balance of Work and Life: Long-Term.

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Jasbina Ahluwalia

Life Partner For Long Haul

(15:27): That was so comprehensive. There’s that whole idea of taking that long-term view and not taking the micro view of day-to-day. You’re going to have pockets or hours devoted to one or another of your top goals, as long as your top goals are accounted for over a longer, broader view.

I personally believe that the choice of one’s life partner has an influence over one’s entire life.

As a wife and mother, do you have any tips for women or men with respect to choosing that life partner with a long-term perspective to design a life?

 

Sheila Dharmarajan

(16:24): I think that’s right. I know that Sheryl Sandberg has written quite a lot about this topic.

Don’t worry about some of the other decisions about work or which jobs. The biggest decision is your life partner. That’s important.

Elaborating on Life Partner For Long Haul.

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Jasbina Ahluwalia

Making The Best Life Decisions

(19:50): I love that. I really appreciate you sharing your insights with all of us, Sheila. I’m wondering if you have any last thoughts or take-home message that you’d like to share with our listeners.

 

Sheila Dharmarajan

(20:00): I think there are two things that really helped me in my life.

When I was a freshman in college, there was a speaker. I really wish that I knew her name so that I could be in touch with her.

What she said at a speech my freshman year of college has played such a big role in my life. It’s really about decision making.

Her piece of advice was, “If it was the best decision you could make at the time, don’t worry about it. You’ve done the best you can. Don’t think twice about it.”

Elaborating on Making The Best Life Decisions.

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Jasbina Ahluwalia

(21:25): Thank you so much, Sheila, for all of your insights. It’s been an absolute pleasure. I know that you’ve enriched the lives of our listeners with all of those golden nuggets.

 

Sheila Dharmarajan

(21:40): Thank you.

 

Jasbina Ahluwalia

(21:42): In case you joined us late or if you’d like to share this show with people in your life, a recording of this show will be archived and available as a podcast on Intersections Match’s website, which is www.IntersectionsMatch.com. I appreciate you hanging out with us. Make sure to join us for our next show. Take care, everyone.

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What do you think?

Would you like to add to the insights shared in the Sheila Dharmarajan interview? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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