Mekah Dua Profile
Mehak Dua (India & Merton 2002) is a Vice President at the investment firm PIMCO in New York. Originally from India, she has worked as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs in New York and HSBC in London. She holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, a Bachelors degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics (P.P.E.) from the University of Oxford and a Bachelors in Economics from Delhi University.
Rhodes Project: What was the last book you couldn’t put down?
Mehak Dua: A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini. I have read it at least five times over and it is the book I take on flights when I haven’t been organized enough to bring anything else. It’s about two girls from different backgrounds who nevertheless share similar struggles; I feel that most women can find something in the book to relate to.
Rhodes Project: Can you share with me a favorite childhood memory?
Mehak Dua: My parents taking my brother and me swimming at the Delhi Golf Club on weekends. Between after-school activities and the hectic school workload many children in India grow up with, it was always nice to spend time with the family. It’s simple things like this that are probably my favorite memories.
Rhodes Project: How do you first become interested in economics?
Mehak Dua: Growing up, I wanted to be an astronaut and then a dentist. However, as I started reading newspapers and following global events, I increasingly grew fascinated with economics and financial markets. Working in finance is dynamic and a great way to do something different every day. All jobs have a routine and that certainly applies to finance, but I am excited by its fast pace.
Rhodes Project: You have worked in various different organizations in the finance world. What do you most value in choosing a job in this field?
Mehak Dua: It is important to me to be at an institution that can shape what is happening in the industry, one that is also credible and ethical. While there is always pressure to generate shareholder value – everyone is in the business of generating profit – you have to do it in a manner that does right by the people you serve. It is a tough sector, a sector that the public tends to point fingers at when the economy is not doing well, but it’s a sector we can’t do without.
Rhodes Project: Can you give me an example of what these institutions could do to make their practices more credible or ethical?
Mehak Dua: Financial institutions need to make sure that the “know your customer” process isn’t just a formality; they need to take the time to get to know the objectives and the financial background of the customers they are trying to serve without pushing product on them. This was the root cause of the 2008 financial crisis, when consumers who couldn’t afford home loans and other products were enticed to borrow beyond their means.
Rhodes Project: How has your complex understanding of finance and business affected your personal relationship with money?
Mehak Dua: It should be much better than it is at the moment! I don’t know if it is by virtue of being Indian, but I like the comfort of having a liquid amount of cash available. Although I advise institutional investors on how to sensibly invest, I need to get better at doing so myself.
Rhodes Project: Can you tell me about an achievement that you’re proud of?
Mehak Dua: When I moved to New York, I met the three little daughters of the concierge in our building. I started talking to them, then mentoring them and am now helping them with college applications. It is a very informal relationship that I didn’t seek actively. When I worked at Goldman Sachs, I had very little free time – time to sleep and then get back to the office– so I am proud to have developed this relationship in spite of my job.
Rhodes Project: What most inspires you?
Mehak Dua: I am inspired by women who have managed to get to a place where they can influence and charter the direction of the organization they are in, while at the same time maintaining a fulfilling family life. If you are able to balance those two without having conflicting objectives all the time, that is really inspiring. I will strive to do that myself one day.
Rhodes Project: What is a memorable learning moment that you have had recently?
Mehak Dua: A few weeks ago, I was reminded of something that I’ve always known, but is often easy to forget - never underestimate how much the person you are speaking with knows. People can surprise you. Start with a blank sheet and don’t judge people before you’ve sat down with them, both in one’s professional and personal life.
Rhodes Project: Tell me about a meaningful journey you have been on, either physical or emotional.
Mehak Dua: Every time I get on a flight back to New Delhi, where I am from, it is very meaningful. I visit home every year and it is always an emotion-filled journey that gets me thinking.
Rhodes Project: What do you miss most about India?
Mehak Dua: I miss the energy that you feel in the street, it is very vibrant. I miss the entrepreneurial spirit of the people; there is no place as creative as India. Everyone is trying to market and sell products. They may do it to make ends meet, but they are doing it in the most creative way.
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