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Shefali Alok Pathak | Vastu Housing Finance

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Shefali Alok Pathak

I completed my Bachelors degree in Finance from Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA.

During my graduation, I pursued a start-up and became a part of a three member team (partnering with students from IIT Kharagpur) to launch a Voice-over-web solution called Croak.it. This was my first professional experience and the fact that it was a start-up that we were building and creating made it an incredible learning experience.

As all three of us were students, with my other two partners purely working on product engineering, I decided to gain some additional experience in business development and hence joined a successful start-up team in Philadelphia on a part-time basis where I worked directly with the VP of Business Development to learn more.

Towards the end of my graduation, I exited the start-up and joined my father’s IT business full time in California. During my second year with this Company, I took up a relocation to Mumbai, India to get a better sense of the job market here.

Soon after, I joined a Housing Finance company where I worked in the capacity of a Financial Analyst reporting to the CFO. Affordable Housing Finance, or lending to those who are typically unbanked and are “thin file” customers, was a relatively new market being developed in India and I took the opportunity to drive the strategic transition of my previous organization from a Premium to an Affordable Company, which entailed systematically changing our business model and disengaging from high ticket loans to move to average loan sizes of Rs 10 lacs.

My work here was highly appreciated by the Board as well as the Senior Management of the Company and hence even with little to no experience of the market I was given the opportunity to lead a sub-function (Business Planning & Analytics) and became the youngest team member of the organization’s Core Team at 24 years of age.

I worked in this organization for two years in New Delhi, India and had the opportunity to build experience in my sector and spent a lot of time on the ground with the Sales team so that I have a real view of the problem that our Company was looking to solve.

I am now a part of another Affordable Housing Finance company called Vastu where I manage various product related initiatives and continue to be among the younger team members.

At a time when I had the opportunity to stay in my comfort zone and manage a business that my father was leading, I chose to break away from the dependence, the industry and forayed into a space where I knew it was all about making it from scratch.

Though I have a very long way to go, I do feel a sense of pride about being a “self-made” individual, especially when I speak to Sales employees of other Housing Finance company and they acknowledge that they have heard of me because of my close association with my team on the ground.

I want to redefine the way Affordable Housing Finance is approached in India, in making it more simpler and easier for people who are in the economically weaker section of society to access finance from formal institutions and helping them get financially included.

That is a goal that I try taking baby steps towards every single day, while continuing to acknowledge that I have a lot to learn and a long way to go ahead of me.

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