Corporate craft

Corporate craft

Suits: A woman on wall street
Nina Godiwalla
Hachette
2011, pp 348
395


Delivering one of the immortal monologues of Hollywood, Gordon Gekko, Michael Douglas’ Oscar winning character in Wall Street (1987), proclaims “Greed is right, greed works.

Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.” Nina Godiwalla’s smartly narrated, heavily autobiographical Suits looks at the not-so- noble qualities of this greed as it motivates, lures and tricks the men on Wall Street into surrendering their essential human values at the altar of money, power and prestige.

Nina, a bright Parsi-Indian girl from Houston who has just completed her freshman year in college, arrives in New York City to join JP Morgan as an intern. Fired with ambition to prove herself to her father, she would do everything it takes to be a successful Wall Street professional. Suits is her story as she experiences the brutally competitive, appallingly insensitive atmosphere of investment banking that forces her to reassess her own core values in life before it is too late for redemption.

Nina witnesses the dizzying highs and lows of one of the most coveted professions in the world, that of corporate finance. Though she initially laps up the heady dose of luxury and privilege that the new job offers her, it doesn’t take her long to realise that her professional success and personal happiness are quickly becoming mutually exclusive. In Suits, Nina unveils the reality behind the glitz and glamour of the high profile corporate jobs that the best and the most brilliant young minds all over the world crave for.

As the only woman analyst in a group of 25, Nina learns early enough that it takes more than an intelligent brain to survive in an atmosphere of discrimination based on gender, race and skin colour. Committed to her dream of proving her mettle to her father, she takes on every challenge,, continuously pushing her limits and reminding herself of her associate’s words, “The world is full of incompetent fucks.

We aren’t here because we’re lucky. It’s because we’re the best and the brightest.” But the more she tries to believe in it the more she is convinced that “the illusion of power trumps knowledge.” Nina heartbreakingly narrates how this ‘illusion of power’ can create a void in human spirit and how those chasing it make desperate but unsuccessful attempts to plug the chasm with drugs, sex, expensive parties, food, liquor, company of the rich and famous, etc, before taking refuge in anti-depressants and psychiatrists.

Greed for power and money is a universal phenomenon and Wall Street can be no exception to this. But what makes Suits relevant is that at a time when ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protest movement against the wide disparity between the haves and have-nots of the world is spreading like wildfire, Suits looks at the more hidden, insidious ways in which financial greed gnaws at the spirits of those who propagate it. The book is an eye-opener for those who put their career ambitions above happiness.

Suits is also about Nina’s constant struggle to balance her two diverse worlds, one that is ruled by her strong Zoroastrian family values and the other that is marked by freedom to explore her fullest potential as an independent individual. Though her description of her Parsi-Indian family seems a tad too clichéd, the incidents narrated do manage to evoke some hearty laughter and nostalgia in the reader.

Nina Godiwalla quit her career in Wall Street after a decade of working for some of the best names in the sector like Morgan Stanley and Johnson & Johnson, and started MindWorks, a consultancy that provides stress management and meditation training to corporates and financial organisations. In Suits, she explains her reasons behind this choice.

Nina’s highly engaging style makes even the technical aspects of banking and finance look interesting. She keeps the reader engrossed throughout. Suits is a gripping book with a great message.

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