“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”- Benjamin Franklin
Knowledge and learning is a continuous process, and these when integrated with passion can create marvels. Passion and yearning for knowledge is something that makes incredible leaders. One such outstanding leader is Archana Khosla, who is the Founder Partner of Vertices Partners. Her expertise lies in corporate commercial, venture capital and private equity practice. Her work spans across these sectors as well as other diverse spaces like mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and strategic acquisitions.
As a woman, a lawyer and an entrepreneur, her passion, aim and goal are intertwined into a powerful emotion to not just the work, but to create an impact while doing the work. Be it directly in terms of the advice or indirectly in terms of the intangibles of commercial advice or the ability to mentor a colleague or to learn further than just text book approach towards providing solutions.
Belonging to a family of armed forces and given the peripatetic nature of military life, her life felt nothing short of being nomadic. Shifting cities, attending new schools, starting over, made her life dynamic, which is so clearly evident from her personality and stature today.
Speaking of her idols and heroes, she quotes, “our heroes were not the Marvel comics and DC universe characters but rather the real-life soldiers, whose names we grew up hearing. In fact, in our schools the names of our houses reflected the names of various Generals and Field Marshals.” This, at a very early stage in her life, made her mind-set more inclined towards pragmatism over theory, which today has become her motto in her professional journey, as well.
Since childhood, Archana was always a fan of analyzing and interpreting issues, breaking them down into logical components and then articulating the same. In the final years of her schooling, she started realizing that being a lawyer means a great amount of power- the power to help people, using nothing but your mind.
Her exposure to the socio-economic and cultural plurality of the country has contributed to the holistic development of her mind and thought process. As a result of that, she became independent and proactive from an early stage itself. She was quite certain that one aspect of why the legal profession, is called the noble profession is also because of the impact that it can create within the society, as well as in an individual’s life, “the inclination towards being a lawyer was, therefore, almost a natural progression,” she says.
Archana’s journey as a first-generation lawyer started off in the genre of litigation in the High Court of Delhi and Supreme Court of India. She gradually moved on to leadership roles in corporate law in some of the prestigious law firms of the country, which was rather interesting for her. Well, every stage of career comes with its own set of challenges, which at that stage seems to be a major challenge. “Building my career from scratch has been a challenge in itself, as I hadn’t inherited any legacy. Also, competing with some eminent law firms demanded the best from me,” she says. Specializing in these fields provided Archana with the opportunity to not only advise various investors, but also several entrepreneurs.
Being an entrepreneur at heart, Archana always appreciated the effort that goes into building traction and establishing a business plan into reality. “Being an entrepreneur brings with it, its own set of challenges. Be it cash-flow management or expectation management one needs to be attentive to both,” she asserts. “The ability to manage egos and align aspirations brings its own set of issues along. Hiring the right talent and retaining the same talent post training, needs to be treated with equal reverence,” she added further. While this list is long, it is pertinent to accept that each challenge brings with it valuable tutelage, which no formal institution or course can offer.
Shattering Stereotypes and Heading On
She was always aware that choosing a career in a traditional male bastion would be seen as a violation of stereotypical expectations of women. Cultural ethos tag men with leadership qualities and women with nurturing qualities, in spite of these barriers Archana with her determination to make difference she moved ahead these. “While these negative projections made me look at the profession with certain amount of fear and skepticism, but my passion for the profession, coupled with the encouragement from family made me take the plunge into being an entrepreneur”, asserts Archana.
Having been on both sides of the table, she says, “I can tell you that it definitely is more challenging to be a woman and create a career within this profession and it does accelerate when the same is associated with one running one’s own organization.” However, it is a fact that the world is changing and there is a gradual but significant change in the mindset of the society. The key to success for a woman is not only the support system that she can build around her through professional help but also the emotional support system that the family can provide.
Seamlessly Balancing Personal and Professional Life
Maintaining a balance between career and home is about setting the priority right. “Thankfully, my family is my greatest strength in this case and understands the demand of the profession,” she says. “Further, given that my husband and I belong to the same profession and business, it makes it that much more easier for me to create the equilibrium to manage work, home and my three month old son, all seamlessly” she says.
Eternally Motivated Leader
The one thing that keeps her motivated at all points of time is “the personal value add that this profession offers me at all points of time”, says Archana. Given the strong commercial nuances of the practice she specializes in, the multiple sectors and the key learnings therefrom, especially when she is representing other entrepreneurs, keep her perpetually motivated. Every entrepreneur teaches you something and every business has a story with multiple emotions, believes Archana.
Establishing Vertices Partners
Since the early phase in her career, Archana has been nurturing the urge of doing something on her own. “As a professional, I got opportunities to work with some of the eminent law firms in India. I also closely worked with some entrepreneurs, offering legal solutions,” she says. Those stints triggered her entrepreneurial spirit and fueled the enthusiasm to quickly jump into her own venture. This is how VERTICES PARTNERS was established along with her other co-founding partners, in the year 2016.
Vertices Partners specialises in the practice areas including private equity and venture capital along with corporate commercial advisory services, joint ventures, acquisitions, buy-outs, M&A, dispute resolution, arbitration, white collar crime, economic offences, insolvency and bankruptcy. Project financing, corporate financing, structured financing, corporate debt transactions, corporate debt restructuring including cross-border portfolios, distressed assets, insolvency, special situations advisory and transactional assistance, are some of the extraordinary services that the firm offers.
Achieving Milestones in a Short Time-span
Being an entrepreneur and growing from a four member team to a thirty member team in a span of less than two and a half years has been an ever-fulfilling journey for Vertices Partners under the guidance of Archana. “The idea when I started out was to tread the path carefully and have a very small set up but as they say, life sometimes has other, probably better plans,” she says. In a short span of time, the firm is fortunate to be ranked within the leading league tables such as Venture Intelligence, VC Circle, IBLJ, and RSG in the Top Law Firms of India for PE and VC Practice. Vertices Partners was also bestowed with the Debutant Law Firm of the Year Award.
Snapshots of the Most Memorable Moments
There are several moments that could be coupled into extremely memorable and remarkable moments in one’s life if one had to look at it from the professional and personal lens and there wouldn’t actually be a cookie cutter approach to this. Speaking of her fond memories, Archana reiterates, “If I had to consider a blend of an emotion, which could be considered common in these two facets of my life, I would link it to the moment of setting up the firm and giving birth to my son. In its truest sense, both these give me the semblance of creation and both makes me feel complete and yet responsible towards both.”
“Lawyers Spend a Great Deal of Their Time Shoveling Smoke”
“The key to success is humility. One needs to be humble as that helps one learn. One needs to be grateful for being taught,” says Archana. During her formative years, a lot of things needed to be self-taught and she would actually yearn for seniors to teach her the ropes on various aspects of the law as theory and practice operate on different planets, especially when it comes to transactional laws. For the millennials, Archana advises them to inculcate humility, gratitude, and patience; which in her mind are the key ingredients for the magic potion of being a great professional.
“I remember during my formative years, a lot of things needed to be self-taught and I would actually yearn for that senior to teach me the ropes on various aspects of the law as theory and practice operate on different planets, especially when it comes to transactional laws. For the millennials, my advice would be to inculcate humility, gratitude and patience, which in my mind are the key ingredients for the magic portion of being a great professional. While Oliver Wendell James Jr’s quote has a certain amount of stereotype observation and it could well have in my opinion originated from the olden days of overt nuances, in today’s world the clients appreciate advice driven through the vacuum cleaner approach which does not allow time to be wasted and hence is to the point and bespoke. Thus, the shovel needs to be kept in the stand as there is no time for smoke in the way the service needs to be provided nowadays” says Archana.