Magazine article Talent Development

Ripa Rashid: Managing Partner, Hewlett Consulting Partners New York City

Magazine article Talent Development

Ripa Rashid: Managing Partner, Hewlett Consulting Partners New York City

Article excerpt

Ripa Rashid is a managing partner and senior vice president of Hewlett Consulting Partners/Center for Talent Innovation; she also has written, with co-author Sylvia Hewlett, Winning the War for Talent in Emerging Markets and Growing Global Executives: The New Competencies. Rashid is a subject matter expert on global leadership, gender, innovation, and diversity.

YOUR EARLY ACADEMIC DEGREES ARE IN ASTRONOMY AND ASTROPHYSICS. WAS IT YOUR INTENT WHEN YOU WENTTO COLLEGE TO GO ON TO BUSINESS?

Not at all. I had no familiarity, interest, or understanding of anything about the business world growing up. I grew up all over the world. I was the daughter of academics and I'm originally from Bangladesh. The only professions I was familiar with were academia and civil service. All of my parents' friends, when we lived internationally, worked for either academia, or the United Nations or the Asian Development Bank-some kind of multilateral development organization.

I think it was further complicated by the fact that Bangladesh-like India until about 20 years ago-had a closed economy where the public sector was the biggest employer. And so I had really very limited understanding and knowledge of business.

I studied astrophysics as an undergraduate; it was, and is, an abiding passion of mine. Sadly now, it's relegated to the realm of hobby. By the time I was 22 years old, I'd been very monomaniacal about my obsession with astronomy. I came to Harvard, studied, and worked at the Harvard Smithsonian-I had student jobs and I was part of an entire scientific team where we developed solar X-ray telescopes called the NIXT (normal incidence X-ray telescope).

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I started to work in anthropology, which also resonated with me because a lot of it is understanding the rites and rituals of how societies work, and you have to look at it almost as an outsider looking in. Since I grew up in so many different societies, almost on the fringesnever a full insider-that appealed to me.

WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE ARE SOME OF THE GREATEST CHALLENGES FOR THE C-SUITE?

Right now, one of my domains of expertise in the global talent field is around diversity and inclusion. I think one of the biggest challenges for large companies at the very top is the acknowledgment that diversity and inclusion are critical for business performance beyond just it being the right thing to do. …

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