Company Secretary of IL&FS Financial Services, Neelam Desai feels that a Company’s culture plays an important role in nurturing an individual and nurturing individual ambitions

Briefly shed light on the primary responsibilities of your function.

The primary responsibilities of a Company Secretary (CS) is to promote good Corporate Governance Practices and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements. The CS acts as a Key Managerial Personnel of the Company; it is a statutory position with a set of responsibilities defined under the Companies Act. The CS function demands shouldering multi-disciplinary responsibilities towards the board, the company stakeholders and regulators

The journey of a Company Secretary’s profession is a continuous process of learning, unlearning and relearning. The profession demands considerable thought process and understanding of various regulations and rules, interpreting the law and implementing it in different situations

Is there an invisible barrier which prevents women from reaching the highest level in their profession?

I feel there has been a remarkable change in peoples’ approach and viewpoint towards a woman’s role in an organisation. In a competitive world, challenges are an integral part of any assignment and women, with their multitasking abilities and dedication towards their work, are able to surpass any barrier in their profession

Being a woman, did you face any such professional barriers which could have prevented you from gaining a leadership role?

Due to a competitive time and higher professional expectations, challenges are an integral part of the job. However, being a woman it does not prevent me from accepting challenges and fulfilling my professional responsibilities. I firmly believe that ownership of responsibility, dedication, hard work and in-depth knowledge of the subject are the strengths which could overweigh any barriers

What is your advice to people who wish to make a career and reach the top?

A person must have clarity of his/her goal in life. Commitment, hard work and job ownership are few of the important factors which one needs to keep in mind. No short cuts work in making a career progression; they only lead to short term gains and makes one digress from the ultimate goal and achievements

How do your core values translate to organisational goals or values?

The organisation is represented by its personnel. It is the people through whom the organisation achieves its objectives and goals

The Company Secretary function ensures that the Company adheres with all applicable laws and observe the best corporate governance practices. The state of compliance enhances the corporate governance values of the organisation and thereby strengthens its intrinsic values 

What advice would you give to leaders, stepping into the leadership position for the first time?

A leadership position demands a consultative, guiding and balancing approach towards fulfilling functional responsibilities. It is imperative to have mutual support and good understanding with the team. The leaders should delegate responsibilities appropriately, and act with integrity, respect and empathy with the team

How would you describe your leadership style?

The Compliance function being a time bound activity, it mandates a disciplined approach. The function requires continuous engagement with the team in terms of mentoring and monitoring

How do you think being a woman impacts your leadership style?    

Women are instinctively more caring. This basic quality translates into your conduct at work and also towards your team members. Women are also inherently good at multi-tasking, which helps in execution of functional responsibilities effectively and efficiently

What is the one mistake you frequently witness female leaders making?

Women can be a little sensitive and I think it may be emotional reactions which female leaders need to control and work upon 

Being a woman, wife and mother, have you ever felt you have compromised on personal responsibilities?

Yes.  At times, I feel apologetic for not being with my children and family when the occasion demands so.  As women, we shoulder multiple responsibilities, socially and professionally. Nevertheless, one has to manage a good work-life balance and I have been trying to maintain the same all through my career so far


She concludes with her guidance to the younger generation - “Life and time are the best teachers. Nobody can teach you better than your life itself. Respect your time, don’t take it for granted”




As shared with IFIN Panorama Editorial Team

Neelam Desai


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