Women of Worth 2017

Market Maven

First Global’s Devina Mehra is a prime example of not confining oneself to established norms and winning on one’s own terms

An IIM-A gold medalist, a seven-year-long stint at Citibank followed by co-founding India’s leading institutional brokerage firm, First Global, Devina Mehra’s illustrious career path definitely provides enough material for a blockbuster thriller. First Global, like many other things in the early 1990s, is a baby of liberalisation. Mehra recalls the 1993 Budget presentation by the then finance minister Manmohan Singh, which opened up the market for foreign institutional investors. This triggered her to give up her job at Citibank and work towards setting up a brokerage house. With the market for equity research being relatively untapped at that point and the Bombay Stock Exchange selling membership at a relatively lower price, the environment was conducive for Mehra and her husband Shankar Sharma to start First Global. “Shankar had left Citi by then and was working as a sub-broker. Till then the price for BSE membership was prohibitive around Rs.2 crore and it was a relatively exclusive club. But when BSE announced a membership at Rs.55 lakh, Shankar and I decided to apply for it,” recalls Mehra. Even in the mid-1990s, research coverage was relatively unknown, and Mehra believes the entire process was a learning experience for everyone in the market.