Embracing Change in a New World

Neha Mehta talks to Shanny Basar about setting strategy in the new combined IHS Markit and S&P Global group, encouraging women and changing perceptions of disabilities at work.

Neha Mehta, who works at data and analytics provider IHS Markit, now part of S&P Global, moved from India to start working in the UK in 2007, which she described as not just a geographical change but also a cultural and mindset change.

Mehta said: “The move has helped me evolve, embrace that change and take the best from both worlds.”

The move demonstrates her belief that you have to go outside your comfort zone if you are ambitious, otherwise opportunities become very limited. That mindset is crucial as she has spent the last few months preparing for a new role after completion of the merger of IHS Market and ratings provider S&P Global on February 28 2022. Both companies had made disposals to satisfy competition authorities after announcing the $44bn acquisition in November 2020.

Douglas Peterson, previously President and Chief Executive Officer of S&P Global, is CEO of the combined company. He said in a statement:  “Our combined strengths in credit and risk management, indices across multiple asset classes, private markets, ESG and energy transition data and analytics will accelerate the growth of our business and broaden the scope of services we can provide to the markets.”

Since the closure of the deal Mehta’s position is Senior Director, Corporate Strategy. Her new role will help guide and define strategic priorities across the combined firm as part of the Corporate Strategy group. The combined company said it expects to realise between 6.5% and 8% annual organic revenue CAGR on average through 2023, balanced across major industry segments.

Mehta was previously COO for the Office of the Chief Technology Officer at IHS Markit and responsible for implementation of the mandate from Group CTO and Chief Data Scientist, influencing and collaborating with divisional CTOs to drive, communicate and execute technological growth and transformation across the firm.

“The corporate strategy role is very broad across the organisation – what products we should have, what are the gaps in the market and how we should develop our strengths,” said Mehta.

Over the last few years Mehta has learnt that it is necessary to know what the business is trying to do, but also that it is equally important to define what the business is not trying to do.

“The world is changing and we are a global data, information and analytics provider,” she said. “We need to know where we want to go and being in the right markets is key to our corporate strategy, and we need to innovate and be ahead of the curve.The problem is not having data but having the right data.”

The right data means that it is relevant for each individual piece of work and that it is being used in the right context. The data then has to be synthesised into recommendations for leadership with a macro view of opportunities so they have the whole picture. IHS Markit’s strategy resulted in the firm ending 2021 with record organic revenue growth for both the fourth quarter and the year.

“I’m excited about these two big organisations coming together and excited about my new role, meeting new people and coming up with a new culture for the combined organisation, being part of it and driving it forward,” Mehta said.

As the merger has completed, Mehta is likely to meet one of her personal goals for 2022 which is to learn something new. The willingness to constantly learn is one mindset that Mehta admires, whether that relates to people development, a technical skill or something completely new outside the professional workspace.

Women in Tech
Mehta has been helping colleagues learn by launching a global Women in Tech structured mentoring scheme with an SVP at IHS Markit in 2020.

“We have run two different programs under that banner for two years, received huge positive feedback from the mentees and won a Brandon Hall Excellence Award,” she added.

The Leadership Mentoring program is for associate directors and directors to support them for future leadership roles. The program started with only women only but opened up to men to be inclusive, although it has a higher ratio of women to men.

The Talent Growth program is for associates and focuses more on networking, but is also structured around specified topics and giving access to senior management as mentors.

“We’ve been able to serve more than 500 colleagues and the themes that come across are about building confidence and having role models,” Mehta said.

IHS Markit is making an effort to attract and retain female talent and support them growing into senior positions and the firm has other initiatives to get more women into the Executive Director, MD and SVP levels.

Mehta needed confidence when she decided to become a chartered accountant in India as the exam has a pass rate of between 2% to 3%, with many more male than female candidates.

“There were definitely naysayers so you have to tighten your belt and have conviction in yourself,” she added. “I was very clear that I was going to do this, no matter what it takes.”

She continued that she learnt early in life that she was passionate about numbers and that she needed to fight and advocate for herself.

“If I am really passionate about something I have to take onus and do it; nothing in life is handed to you,” Mehta said.

Confidence was also necessary when Mehta left BNP Paribas after more than nine years to join IHS Markit because she believed she had capabilities and transferable skills. In her role as Finance Business Partner at the bank she had worked with business managers, understood what they were doing, and was pretty sure she could take her career in that direction.

“The drive to move into business management and operations made me apply for this role and I absolutely love it,” she said. “I think it boils down to having the confidence in yourself that you can do it.”

Mehta admitted that putting her hand up and saying she wants to do something more has not come naturally, and she sees a lot of women wait for that proverbial tap on the shoulder to say, ‘Hey, this is happening and I want you to be part of it.’

She believes confidence is cultivated over a period of time and part of her self-belief has come from her personal life and knowing she can handle situations.

In December 2020 Mehta founded EnABLE, IHS Markit’s global action and support affinity network for employees with diverse visible and invisible needs because she has a daughter with disabilities and a complex set of needs.

“Before I had a child I was limited in my experiences with disability,” she added. “So it’s about creating an environment where we talk about disability, understand what it means and how we drive true inclusion.”

Being a parent critically changed Mehta’s perception from viewing disabilities as what people cannot do – to what people can do. EnABLE aims to raise awareness and change that mindset so that all forms of abilities and disabilities are in the workplace.

“We really want to make the workplace inclusive and provide opportunities to people with disabilities by matching their ability,” Mehta said. ”It’s not to do with a disability but about the ability to do certain things.”

EnABLE has worked with HR globally to make policies more accessible, train hiring managers to raise awareness around disability, and make it normal to have conversations about disabilities with colleagues. As a result IHS Markit hired five people with disabilities in India, where a trial began, after using an agency that represents people with disabilities.

Mehta believes the Covid-19 pandemic has driven empathy and many colleagues have been working from home with a child, a parent or a sibling who may have a disability.

“So it’s about more support and understanding of those circumstances so we can bring our true authentic selves at work.” she added. “For me, my daughter is very much part of my life and you can’t just switch it off.”

Being a parent has also contributed to Mehta’s confidence as she is her daughter’s advocate and fights for what she needs. Her advice to women at all stages of their career is to have self-confidence, go for opportunities and be their own advocate. Networking helps but there is also a need to be willing to ask for help, to learn and be curious.

Mehta said: “You cannot wait for things to happen and be handed to you, you have to go out and look for opportunities.”

Through the mentoring programmes, colleagues at IHS Markit have made connections and grown the confidence to push to do more things for their growth.

“I have always found support in the initiatives that we have put in place, it’s been an absolutely fantastic experience,” she added. “Wonderful colleagues are always happy to help and drive that change that we want to see; but there’s always more to do.”

©Markets Media Europe 2022 


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