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Pulak Prasad

Pulak Prasad grew up in India across many towns and cities. His father was in the armed forces where the Indian government transferred him to new locations every couple of years. Pulak changed seven schools in his first twelve years of studies.

He has been gifted with a sense of numbers and mistakenly thought he could be an engineer. He earned his undergrad engineering degree from the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi (IIT Delhi) and got his first job in Unilever India as a production management trainee. While Unilever was a great experience, he did not enjoy his shop floor job. To escape his boredom, he decided to pursue an MBA.

To his surprise, he loved his two years at the MBA school Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIM Ahmedabad). He was very lucky to land a job at the management consulting firm McKinsey & Company in 1992. He spent six years at McKinsey in India, South Africa (he volunteered to go to Johannesburg after apartheid was abolished), and the US. However, all this while, he could not see himself as a life-long consultant. And so, as he had done earlier, he left consulting to try something new.

In 1998, he joined the private equity firm Warburg Pincus. Within a few months at Warburg, he knew he had found his lifelong passion: investing. Pulak was very fortunate to have bosses like Dalip Pathak and Chip Kaye who were ideal mentors: they were patient with his mistakes and gave him a lot of freedom to pursue his passion. At Warburg, Pulak did private equity as well as public equity deals.

After spending more than eight years at Warburg, four of which were as the co-head of India, Pulak decided to launch his own firm Nalanda Capital in early 2007. He decided to focus exclusively on investing in listed India securities. Nalanda aims to be a permanent owner of high-quality Indian businesses. It manages about $5 billion primarily for US endowments, and US and European family offices and foundations.

Apart from investing, Pulak’s two other passions are running and reading. He primarily reads two types of books: fiction and evolutionary biology. For reasons not clear to him, in 2001, he became interested in Darwinian theory of evolution, and started devouring many books on the topic. He continues to do so today (his latest: Evolution Gone Wrong by Alex Bezzerides). At Nalanda, in his quarterly letter to investors, he started drawing parallels between investing concepts and evolutionary theory. Encouraged by many of his readers who said they loved his letters, he decided to write the book What I Learned About Investing From Darwin.