Everything You Need To Know About Mala Gaonkar

In January 2023, Gaonkar made headlines after her hedge fund made the biggest launch in history.

Published On Feb 21, 2023 | Updated On Mar 07, 2024


In January, American businesswoman of Indian origin, Mala Gaonkar created history. Her investment firm, SurgoCap Partners began trading with US $1.8 billion (Rs 1,49,01 crores approx). The hedge fund will continue to use data science to invest in how technology can be use to improve other sectors such as healthcare, enterprise data, industries, financials, and more. 

Read on to find out more about an Indian-origin entrepreneur who made headlines when her firm, started trading at over a billion dollars, the largest debut for a woman-owned hedge fund.

Mala was a Kauffman Fellow who was born in the US and was then raised in Bengaluru. She graduated from Harvard University in 1991 and went on to get an MBA at Harvard Business School. She eventually married Oliver Haarmann, a business partner in private equity. They currently reside in London and have two sons.

Gaonkar was the first partner of Lone Pine Capital prior to creating SurgoCap Partners. She began working for the company in 1998 and was there for almost 24 years. She worked with the company as a portfolio manager for its exposure to technology, media, the internet, and telecommunications. She was also a co-portfolio manager for the long-only funds at Lone Pine. Prior to this, she held positions with Chase Capital Partners and The Boston Consulting Group.

The Surgo Foundation was established in 2015 by Mala Gaonkar and Sema Sgaier. They founded the business with the intention of applying behavioural science and artificial intelligence to address problems in global health. She co-founded the organisation Surgo Ventures in 2020, five years later, to advance that objective. The new company concentrated on creating strategic alliances with other organisations. 

Mala Gaonkar is setting aside US $100 million (about Rs 827 crores) at SurgoCap for smaller endowments, foundations, and charities that support marginalised populations or combat climate change. The company has collected US $35 million so far (Rs 289 crores approx). She pledged to the Giving Pledge, designating the majority of her money for charitable causes.

If creating history wasn’t enough to convince you, here are more fun facts about Mala that are pure goals! 

Ariadne Labs, the Tate Foundation, the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Technology, the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), and RAND are among the organisations where Mala serves as a trustee. She is also a member of The Economist's advisory board. She was on the board of The Paris Review Foundation and the Founders' Council of the Harvard University South Asia Initiative.

Mala is a renowned author as well. In Catamaran, Carolina Quarterly, and American Short Fiction, she has written and published short tales. She received a Pushcart nomination for this as well.

It's inspiring to see more women in business lately. With several women entrepreneurs on Shark Tank India winning investments and even Indian beauty entrepreneurs coming to the fore, you could easily take a leaf out of their book and begin your own entrepreneurial journey.

Photo: Surgo Ventures