Rita Kakati-Shah – Be Bold. Be You. Be Uma.
“In Sanskrit, the Hindu Goddess Uma is a daughter, a mother, a sibling, and a wife. She represents strength, courage, and confidence. She is the Goddess of Go-Getting!”
I spoke with Rita Kakati-Shah about why she started her company, Uma. If I had to pick one word to describe her, it would be enlightening. She shared some extremely valuable nuggets of wisdom she has collected over the years. Anyone listening to this episode will be a little wiser and more optimistic about their business ventures.
Rita Kakati-Shah, CEO and Founder of Uma, is an award-winning, gender, diversity, inclusion and career strategist, speaker, and advisor to Fortune 500 companies. She founded Uma in response to her personal journey and is dedicated to empowering individuals to succeed at life and work after a career break or transition. Prior to Uma, Rita lead Business Development globally in CNS healthcare. Rita began her professional career at Goldman Sachs in London, where she was awarded the prestigious Excellence in Citizenship and Diversity Award. She is also the recipient of the King’s College London Distinguished Alumni Award in recognition of her outstanding professional achievement, civic leadership, and service to her alma mater.
Rita is a graduate of King’s Business School, and actively involved with the King’s Leadership Mentoring program, Entrepreneurial Institute, and International Alumni Committee in New York City. She also mentors women veterans and spouses returning to civilian work after active duty, and survivors of domestic violence. Rita sits on the Women in Legal Profession Committee of the New York City Bar Association, Co-Chairs the Working Moms of the J at the JCC of Manhattan, is an ACP Women Veteran’s Founding Circle member in the US and Governing Board member of Ormiston Park Academy in the UK. She is a frequently invited guest speaker at University of Southern California and an Oversees Ambassador to the London Bihu Committee. She was born in Paris, grew up in London, and now lives in NYC.
- Rita took a four-year sabbatical to raise her two children
- Being a full-time mother of two toddlers turned out to be a lot harder than working in investment banking
- Being a mother requires intense negotiating and scheduling skills and are great problem solvers (because they have to be), yet the corporate world doesn’t recognize being a mother as a legitimate reason to have a gap on your resume.
- A Harvard study found that a gap on your resume due to time off for motherhood gave candidates a 50% lower chance of getting called for an interview.
- Being a mother and being discriminated against gave Rita the incentive to start UMA
- Studies show that mothers are much better at getting things done than women without kids or men
- Uma teaches how to be confident and not to be taken advantage of
- “We don’t just fill quotas—we provide highly qualified candidates that also fit the needed demographic”
- Managing a diverse workforce requires some specific skills—Uma teaches them these skills
- It took Rita 3-4 years to start achieving success with her company
- Having a diverse well-trained workforce is actually good for a company’s bottom line
- Imposter syndrome is much more prevalent among women and especially women of color
- Getting over imposter syndrome requires preparation and practice
- Prepare and practice with yourself and your friends, record your speech and critique it. Try to convince your friends that do not support your point of view, and get their feedback
- Don’t quit. Pivot! Never give up! When things are not going well, rather than quitting—pivot to a new direction
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