Nandita Athale may have come from a small town in Marathwada, Maharashtra, but that has hardly stopped her from carving a big career path for herself.
Her knack for excellence and passion to learn is evident from her inspiring success story — which involves her being one of the first few people in India to get a degree in computer science, working for several big corporates, and then becoming a computer teacher in her daughter’s school for more than a decade just so that she could spend more time with her. It was not long before these experiences also gave Nandita over 15 years of experience in spreading computer literacy!
What’s more is that at the age of 50, when most people are likely to look forward to their retirement and not want to learn anything new, Nandita even went on to become a certified financial planner
Today, she is committed to helping everyone around her attain financial freedom.
Here are excerpts of our interview with Nandita:
Tell us more about yourself.
My father was an ophthalmologist and growing up I led a good family life without any worries. I love to study and this is obvious to all who know me. Even in school, I was the only student to get a scholarship, and that too, without tuitions or classes. Moreover, though I studied in a vernacular medium in a government school, I successfully graduated in physics, chemistry and math.
My career path got real definition after my mother urged me to pursue a computer science degree that she saw advertised in the local newspaper. It was not long before I appeared for the entrance exam and got admission in the first batch of BSc (applied) computer science in Pune University. As the course was a first of its kind in Maharashtra, I found a job waiting for me at Mahyco – a hybrid seeds company in my home town. The company wanted to start a computer department and fortunately for me, I was their obvious choice.
I worked there for 8 years and established the department. It was a tough time as people had no idea what computers could do and used to blame computer for errors. I had to make them understand that the issues they were talking about were not related to computer errors but mistakes in our data entry. Soon, I successfully developed and implemented many systems such as accounting, stock and sales at a time when there were no standard systems such as tally, SAP, and CRMS.
For corporate experience, I moved to Pune and worked for Apple (now, Aptech) as a corporate trainer and conducted training for executives and managers from companies such as Garware Paints, Crompton Greaves, Bharat Forge, Kirloskar, HOCL, and many more.
After marriage I moved to Mumbai and was a homemaker for a couple of years. I started working for Johnson and Johnson when my daughter was just 3 years old. Having worked for more than 15 years in software, I left it all to give more time to my daughter. I realised that being with my daughter in her growing years was very important. So, I took up a job as a computer teacher in her school.
What motivated you to become a certified financial planner (CFP)?
At 50, I was introduced to the concept of life advisorship by a friend. The training was an eye opener and made me realise the mistakes I had made with my finances. After clearing the exam, I wanted to learn more about personal finance and Google helped me find CPFA – a course by NISM. Though I did not have a commerce background or any idea of ‘time value money problems’, I easily cleared the exam in the first attempt. This gave me the confidence to get AMFI certified soon after that. During this period, I found out that the lack of financial literacy was causing many people to make wrong financial decisions. This pushed me to become a CFP. I realised that this financial training would enable me to guide myself as well as my friends and relatives in their journey towards financial well-being.
What do you think are the biggest financial mistakes that most women make? How can they avoid them?
Many women completely depend on their father or husband when making decisions about their personal finances. I feel all women should take interest in their financial matters and even understand what should be done for their family’s financial needs. However, I have also noticed that even though women can earn and make their own decisions, they are seldom allowed to do so. So, unless we teach our next generation that all are equal and gender has no role in any of field, be it education, decision making, finance, cooking or anything else, we won’t come out of these age-old stereotypes. I truly believe that any gender can have proficiency in any life skill.
Does your financial advice change based on the gender of your client? Please mention why.
Financial advice depends on many factors such as goal, life stage, risk capacity and tolerance, but not on gender. When offering financial advice, I don’t consider individuals but the family as an entity. Hence, gender bias also doesn’t come into play.
Do you believe that people can face serious financial issues without emotional intelligence?
Yes, emotional intelligence definitely has a role in financial decisions and people may face serious problems without it. These problems can not only affect their own lives but also the well-being of their family members.
What can happen if financial planners are themselves not emotionally intelligent?
As a financial planner, emotional intelligence helps understand people’s feelings and guide them in a better way. Without emotional intelligence, a financial planner may get carried away and make wrong decisions which can affect their clients.
Why, according to you, does everyone need a financial planner?
Today’s world is governed by the power of knowledge and money, and the knowledge of money. And the experts on money matters are financial planner. A lot of people are currently busy earning money and don’t have the time or the expertise to manage money. They go to a doctor for health advice and a lawyer for legal issues. But the simple truth is everyone first needs a financial advisor to ensure their overall well-being.
Will India become the first world country without 50% of its population (women) being financially independent?
I am not an expert to comment on how India can become a first world country. But in my opinion no country can disregard its 50% population and still be considered as a developed country. It’s not only financial independence but factors such as literacy, inclusion, power, and respect that come into play in this matter. I believe that we need to overcome gender bias by moulding a value-based next generation if we really want to see India become a first world country.
For financial planning services, please email Nandita at [email protected]