Tell us about your background …
I consider myself a global citizen. Born in India, spent many years in Dubai; went to India for college; moved to Toronto and then in the Boston area for the past couple of decades. Having the opportunity to call many places home has shaped my approach towards life — embracing change, being curious and exploring new things and ideas, love for travelling, and having a tight connection with my family. Growing up, our small family — my mom, dad, and brother, — spent all of our time together. My parents shared their life experiences, big and small with us. While my brother and l live across continents (he is in Singapore) we talk almost every day. What brought me to US and eventually Massachusetts was marrying my husband — Rajesh! We have called Andover and Boston home for decades. This is where we’ve raised my two (now adult) kids and our amazing puppy — Yogi.
What is your professional background, what industry do you work in, and how did you get started?
I’ve been in financial services all my career. This wasn’t part of a master plan. When I finished my MBA, I had a lucrative job offer from Citibank, and an interest in service industry. While that’s how my journey started, I have loved being in financial services for over 25 years. At the end of the day finances are an important part of our life. Understanding your finances and making the right financial decisions can truly allow people to lead the life they choose. After spending a few years with Citibank in Toronto, I have been with Fidelity Investments for the past 25 plus years and have had the opportunity to lead many different businesses and help individual customers and institutions. Financial wellness is a critical part of overall life wellness and mental wellness and I’m passionate that everyone should have basic knowledge and command over their financial decisions.
Tell us about the company you work for and what you do.
I work for Fidelity Investments which is an amazing brand in the financial services industry. One of the areas where Fidelity is a leader is offering retirement and broader benefits in the workplace. Everything from a retirement savings (401k, 403B) health savings account, student debt, they’re really helping with a broad set of financial needs. I have the privilege of leading the business that serves not-for-profit institutions. My team and I get to work with over 800 clients and the million employees they have across the United States. Our goal is to help them employers offer benefits that will help they attract and retain talent in this competitive market and help their employees take full advantage of the benefits provided.
What I love about my work at Fidelity is that every day I’m able to help people make smart financial decisions and live a better life.
What advice would you give to women who want to follow in your footsteps?
My parents and grandparents always taught me that you can achieve anything once you put your heart and mind into it. Having that encouragement and belief is so important. Here is what I share with women. First, believe in yourself. Yes, you can do it! Second is ‘lean in’. Do not wait for an opportunity. Do not wait for somebody. You are extremely powerful. And so, get going. When people ask me how much of your success is luck and having the right opportunity; I always tell people the harder you work, the luckier you get because you’re trying more things. So, please lean in. And third, surround yourself with advocates. Those who care for you and your success, but will also be brutally honest and not sugarcoat things. Just like it takes a village to raise a child; you need your village to bring your dreams to life. Develop that village wisely.
Who is your role model and/or leadership mentor?
I have been so fortunate to have many role models, teachers, advocates, advisors, but probably the person who I’ve admired all my life and learnt from is my dad. My dad always taught us attitude is everything. His favorite two words were always ‘absolutely tremendous’. Whenever he was asked ‘how are you doing?’ whether he was sick or having the best day of his life, he would always answer ‘absolutely tremendous’. And that’s a mantra I try to live by. Not that there’s aren’t roadblocks. Change is a constant, but it’s the positive attitude that allows you to tackle the changes. Another lesson from him was to explore and wander. That has given me confidence that while you may not get things right or perfect the first time; you learn every time. I’m so eternally grateful that he taught us to keep a learning mindset. When things go great, you celebrate. When things don’t go as planned, you pivot and you look at plan B.
What’s the biggest challenge facing women entrepreneurs and professionals today? How do you overcome adversity?
I would say the biggest challenge I think is that as women, we tend to underestimate our ability in what we can do. We do a lot more second guessing. So, the biggest challenge is ourselves. I am such a believer that we’ve got to lift each other up. We’ve got to help each other boost each other’s confidence. That’s where I love working with women entrepreneurs, whether it’s through the ScaleUp program or through TiE Women. It’s an opportunity validate all the greatness they have, and also share with them very candidly where things can be different and should be different. You know, one of my favorite pieces of advice from Indra Nooyi’s book is about being candid with our feedback. She talks about instances where, if a man is not doing too well in a meeting, other men will take him aside and tell him, ‘Hey, buddy, what’s going on? Why did you say that?’ or, ‘why did you do this?’ And we have moments of being too polite. So candid feedback and lifting each other up is what we need to do more for each other.
What is a tech trend you are following and why?
While I’m not a native techie, technology is integral to all we do. I would say some of the trends I’m following right now are around AI and large language models. Because at the end of the day, every consumer wants personalization. They want things that are relevant to them. Through ChatGPT, through AI, through language learning models, we have the ability to digest enormous amounts of data and understand customer preferences, to serve people well, to automate processes. Those are a couple of the trends that I am closely following, because at the end of the day, whatever business you are, whether you are in a technology business, whether you’re in financial services, whether you are in consumer products, AI enables businesses to driving scale and bring personalization at the same time.
How did you find TiE Boston, and what prompted you to become a member?
I’ve been a member for so long, it’s hard to remember how the journey started except I had several folks at Fidelity and outside who had prompted me to join. I wanted to be able to give back and engage with folks beyond financial services. And given my roots to India and to Asia, TiE seemed like a natural place for me to get started and I love the fact that I’ve been able to really participate in a few different programs at TiE that have given me really a deeper understanding of the power of the TiE network.
What is your current involvement in TiE?
One of my favorite parts is being part of the ScaleUp program and being a mentor there. I’ve spent most of my life in the corporate world and TiE allows me to engage with entrepreneurs. . Interactions with entrepreneurs, especially women entrepreneurs have been very rewarding to me where I’m able to help them and work with them to sharpen their story, to understand the unit cost and the financial outcomes that they’re trying to deliver through the passion that they have. ScaleUp is absolutely the very favorite part of my engagement at TiE. I’ve been on the board for the past few years and it’s been wonderful for me to play that role and, you know, look at the vastness of TiE and across all the programs.
Tell us more about TiE Women…
What I’m most excited about currently is the honor of being the chairwoman for the TiE Boston Women program. This is a great avenue for women entrepreneurs, women founders. TiE Women is truly the only program that I know of that helps women entrepreneurs globally. So how wonderful that I will have the opportunity to meet several women in the Northeast region, but then also to help them and work with them to participate in the upcoming TiE Women Global Pitch competition in November of this year.
TiE Women is a great way for us to help women founders and create an ecosystem of investors, entrepreneurs — folks who have taken their own businesses to great heights and to be able to surround them with that network. The fact that it’s a global program, I think, is a great model for women across the world to be able to meet, and to learn from each other.
What is most interesting/helpful about TiE Boston?
When I first joined TIE, I was excited about all the opportunities that were possible.
The Ah-ha moment for me was being engaged with TiE ScaleUp. In my first cohort, I was partnered with Bluegreen Analytics and Jeff Eckman who was leading the company. The ability to look at the company, their value proposition, their product and have a wonderful and intense exchange of ideas was not just an opportunity for them but personally I learnt a lot. The fact that they were able to make an exit and partner with another company was super exciting.
How can people engage in TiE Boston to help their personal and professional growth?
I would say, it is a pretty awesome network of people who are really there to advise you and to share their learnings with you, but also just to talk to you and give you validation and confidence. I mean, each entrepreneur, each person has a very personal journey and story. And what is awesome is that you can pick up the phone, you can call any of them, and if they don’t have the answer, they’ll connect you to another resource in TiE. The power of this network is pretty amazing.
Are there any books and or podcasts you would recommend to rising professionals and entrepreneurs?
One of the books that I go back to often is the book called Atomic Habits by James Clear. If you’re not a big reader, you can listen to his podcast, you can also follow him on Instagram and get bite size advice and quotes. I find those very inspiring. James Clear talks about the power of small habits and the power of process. He talks about the power of every incremental step and small habits that enable you to achieve big dreams.
Another regular for me is the NY Times Daily. Topics I enjoy reading/listening about are on mental, physical and overall wellbeing.