I have been a banker since the very start of my career in 1998. Maybe I should say since I was in senior school! I knew then that this is what I wanted to be in life! I started with American Express Bank and then went onto work with outfits such as Standard Chartered, HSBC Private Banking and Barclays Wealth. I have worked across departments but mostly in Wealth Management. My family is pretty small. Samaria and Ishan, aged eight and four are my children. My husband, Shouneel Charles, is the Chief revenue Officer at NDTV Convergence. My mother and father are a lovely support structure for me.
Tell us about Quantum Leap
Quantum Leap was set up in April 2012. We offer financial solutions. I say that because we are not a product-driven organisation. Our endeavour is to bring across the best in class product for the client’s unique situation at a reasonable cost by searching out specialists, monitoring the instruments chosen and providing transparent reporting. We represent the client rather than an institution – both on investment banking and wealth management.
What drove you to become an Entrepreneur?
I quit when I was doing very well. The pay cheques were heavy and the ratings good. It was simple boredom! I wanted my work to mean more than achieving targets. I wanted to see people make money. I wanted to give the right advice, driven only by the client’s interest. My clients supported me and encouraged me to start my own venture.
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving your success?
To step out from a highly organised and structured environment to base zero was a challenge. The right tie ups had to be done. We had to ensure that we could offer everything that Private Banking could, in order for the client to be at an advantage for having chosen us. We are still not done with this piece and are constantly evolving – looking for good partnerships and people.
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
To be able to build a brand that you can trust. Financial services is an area where trust is of utmost importance an rarely found! We are very far away from putting this down as a success story but are definitely are on the right track. Industry and media are recognising us. We are being covered in newspapers and magazines. I believe we are doing something right.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
I do not have a role model. Wanting to make my business a success is what has driven me all along. I enjoy it. I would attribute my learnings to my parents. My mother did not ever allow me to fail in spirit and that is just a core value that I have! My father is an exceptional man and has taught us how to stand up for what we believe in and stand by people who need us – even if we were alone! I say ‘we’ as I refer to my sister Piya as well.
How do you balance your work life and home life?
Technology has made a mother and a professional co-exist. We can multi-task and devote time as per calling. However, as a discipline, I ensure I reach the office in time and do my day’s work. Organising and planning my work has taken me a long way. I spend the first ten minutes at the office planning the day. e.g. if I need data from someone, I call for it in the morning instead of calling for it when I start work on the subject. If I know a certain client is going to take time to respond, I send a message in the morning. By the time I get to the client’s work, I have the answers. A working mother is always short of time – I HAVE to work smart! I don’t have a choice! Time management is the only solution to work life balance.
What advice do you have for women starting out on their own?
- If possible, work for the ‘drive’ of it! You are not going to get rewarded with a pay cheque at the end of the month. It has to be something that motivates you now and well into your years of retirement
- Plan. Think through the worst possible imaginable situations
- When the chips are down, don’t give up. Think through your strategy. Be honest with yourself and never give in!
Can you recommend any organisations or networking groups that have particularly helped you on your journey?
I plan to take up a FICCI membership next year. WhatsApp is an effective tool to keep in touch with other professionals and updates in your area of work.
If you could ask for one thing to help propel your business what would it be?
Better technology. Unfortunately financial services in India are still not up to the mark.
What does the future hold for you?
Let’s see. I am quite hopeful of sunny days!
This article was provided by WeAreTheCity Delhi Committee Member Ashish Bhardwaj.