I AM CEO PODCAST

IAM434- Career Strategist and International Speaker Empowers Women in Their Careers

Podcast Interview with Rita Kakati Shah

Rita Kakati Shah is an award-winning diversity, inclusion, and career strategist, and international speaker, and currently helms Uma – an International platform that empowers women looking to return to work, as well as helps companies attract, retain, and develop female talent in the workplace via diversity, inclusion and retention strategies. Rita started her career at Goldman Sachs in London where she was awarded the Excellence in Citizenship and Diversity Award during her 10-year career there.

She is also a recipient of the King's College London Distinguished Alumni Award. Rita transitioned into the healthcare industry, relocated to New York City where she took an almost 4-year career hiatus to raise her two children, and founded Uma in response to her personal journey. Rita is also a regularly invited speaker at various academic institutions, Fortune 500 companies as well as global diversity and inclusion forums, such as UNESCO in Paris, Woman Who Matters in Moscow, Women in Finance in London, Women in Politics in Los Angeles, and High Water Women in New York.

  • CEO Hack: Being organized and scheduling off with my calendar
  • CEO Nugget: Budget things out and have a business plan in place
  • CEO Defined: Being in charge of my decisions

Website: https://www.beboldbeuma.com/

Facebook: https://web.facebook.com/BeBoldBeUma/?_rdc=1&_rdr
Twitter: https://twitter.com/beboldbeuma
Instagram: beboldbeuma
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/uma—-be-bold.-be-you.-be-uma.


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Transcription

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Intro 0:02

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview? If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of. This is the I AM CEO Podcast.

Gresham Harkless 0:29

Hello, this is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast and I have a very, very special guest on the show today. I've Rita Kakati Shah of Uma, Rita, it's awesome to have you on the show.

Rita Kakati Shah 0:38

Nice to be here. Gresh Thank you for having me.

Gresham Harkless 0:40

No problem. Super excited to have you on him. What I wanted to do is just read a little bit more about Rita so you can hear about all the awesome things that she's doing. Rita is an award-winning Diversity, Inclusion, and Career Strategist, and international speaker and currently helms Uma, an international platform that empowers women looking to return to work, as well as helps companies attract, retain, and develop female talent in the workplace via diversity, inclusion and retention strategies.

Rita started her career at Goldman Sachs in London, where she was awarded the Excellent Citizenship and Diversity Award during her tenure career there. She is a recipient of the King's College, London Distinguished Alumni Award, ready to transition into the healthcare industry relocated to New York City where she took an almost four-year career hiatus to raise her two children and founded Uma in response to her personal journey.

Rita is also a regularly invited speaker at various academic institutions, fortune 500 companies as well as global diversity and inclusion forums, such as UNESCO in Paris, Woman Who Matters in Moscow, Women in Finance in London, Women in Politics in Los Angeles, and High Water Women in New York. Rita, are you ready to speak to the I AM CEO community?

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Rita Kakati Shah 1:47

I'm ready to do it.

Gresham Harkless 1:49

So to kick everything off, I want to hear a little bit more about what I call your CEO story, what led you to get started with our business?

Rita Kakati Shah 1:55

So personal journey really, is a combination of starting off in one particular industry in finance, then transitioning careers into the healthcare industry, and then relocating countries to the US to New York, where I live now. And then I took a few years off to raise my two children who are now four and six. And when I thought about returning to the workforce, I faced the biases that so many, particularly women face when they do have a career graph on their resume.

So that's really what planted the seeds for starting Uma, to really empower to help everybody who is thinking of going back there should usually be treated differently, because of your gender, or because you identify a certain way, or because maybe you served in the military, or you took time off to care for your family. And that's really the underlying journey, what woman tries to solve.

Gresham Harkless 2:41

Nice, I definitely appreciate that. And I think and that's why, you know, when we talked a little bit offline, we talked about how a lot of companies and organizations, sometimes they don't realize kind of like that journey.

And it usually takes somebody to create an organization or bring light to that journey to understand that there is some type of bias, it isn't as smooth sailing when someone wants to come back into their career or come back into like a different career. A lot of times you have to work through a lot of things. By creating awareness, you're definitely creating it to have a better experience for everybody.

Rita Kakati Shah 3:08

So thank you for saying that. And yeah, I think part of the work that we do is because of that, I mean, when I first started Uma it was very focused on how we empower these candidates returning to the workforce. How do we build up confidence? How do we rescale them. How do we get them ready to go back, that then naturally leads on to okay, well, that is a cyclical journey?

So you're not just empowering the candidate, but you also have to educate the manager, whoever is the team leader, going back into the workforce, which really led more into the diversity and inclusivity piece of what we do at Uma. We do a lot of work with companies more, these days in educating teams, teams dynamic training, unconscious bias training, to your point, and sort of how do we get anyone who's coming back, even whether or not they've taken time off or not, but when they're back to feel part of the team, again, included.

You know, you hear all the time when people leave a company. Do they leave the company? Or do they actually leave their boss. And recent research actually shows that 58% of people when they do leave the company because they just don't get along with their boss. That is outstanding. And that is also a testament to a lot of managers who haven't been taught how to lead. And that's part of where Uma comes into kind of help with that piece.

Gresham Harkless 4:14

Yeah, that makes perfect sense. And especially, you know, you hear I hear that a lot, especially in like startups or organizations that maybe you know, start from the ground up. A lot of times people who become managers don't necessarily have those technical skills that make them good managers. Sometimes they have just been there for a long time. And a lot of times, they don't necessarily know how best to lead. So it's great, you know, that you're empowering people for one, but also educating and creating that information that we all need to be successful.

Rita Kakati Shah 4:38

Yeah, I mean, to your point, I mean, you might be amazing at the job. Not saying that but then suddenly, wham bam, you're promoted and are you looking after people, but you have no clue how to look after people you know how to do your job but then you might just put your foot in it, or you might just don't have those people skills and these days empathy is so I mean, it's always been important, but in particularly these days, when we talk about international collaboration, globalization. It's something that is so on top of mind for everyone and for companies' successes, and that's really what we concentrate on that.

Gresham Harkless 5:07

Yeah, absolutely. So do you have any other things you want to kind of touch on that you guys do with whom? I know, you touched on a lot of the initiatives that you guys have. Is there anything else that you wanted to cover a little bit more?

Rita Kakati Shah 5:17

Yeah. So I guess one of the things that we do is really sort of really focused on the people part of it. So when somebody is coming back to the workforce, it's a matter of how do we get reacquainted back. And it's really taken a step back before that.

So if somebody is a returning employee, for example, we always give managers nuggets of information, we don't say it just starts, day one, when they walk back in the office, it starts before that, you can have a gentle process of getting back into touch with them, again, invite them for a coffee or just go out for lunch or do something on a more casual basis. So it's not intrusive, to somebody's time off.

But it's also helping to show them that you care about them. You want to know how to make things, how to make them feel at home, if is there anything they need, skills that you need, when you get back to work, again, is getting back involved in a team, perhaps presentation skills. So we also ask the returnee to share a journey of this and talk to the team about what they've been doing, where they've been talking about any challenges as though they were presenting a form of presentation.

Why? Because it helps them get those skills back in the books again, but it also really, really hones in on their own journey and getting to really know the team again, and it opens up so many conversations, it breaks down barriers, it really helps everyone feels as you know, as they know each other again.

Gresham Harkless 6:29

Yeah, that makes perfect sense. And I think a lot of times I usually say that you know, we look at businesses, we look at organizations, and we sometimes forget that when we peel back kind of like the layers of a business and look past all the financials and all those things. A lot of times we forget that it's made up of people and that we as people have different experiences we have everything that we go through, we have to take, you know, different journeys, sometimes sometimes we leave, we come back, things like that.

And I think you touched on that empathy piece. And then also on the course the people piece, I think that brings light to a lot of things. Sometimes we can forget when we're just kind of trudging along and kind of like the business framework, I guess you can say.

Rita Kakati Shah 6:59

Yeah. And the same journey is true throughout your career. So you know, we do a lot for particularly women in leadership positions, because that's where we see the major trade-off a part of Uma is really to help that sort of development of the talent in the workforce. So you kind of have 50-50 men and women initially, that sort of peels down as life-changing moments happen, it goes down to like 25%. And then bam, you have like only 5% of women in senior leadership positions.

And part of that is because of the parenthood penalty, as some people call it. But it's also about what you do to help people when they come back in. What are you doing, potentially about hours or flexibility so they can get the work done? Because they really want to do that. How are you helping them do that? And then getting on board to simulator positions. So we also talk a lot of companies about not just sort of promoting women about sort of making opportunities available.

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But how do you do that? We tell, particularly if there's a manager who's up as a man, that you find somebody to sponsor to champion, and then make sure that person gets in that next meeting on that boardroom, make sure that part of that next leadership sort of conversation, because by actually doing that you're actually making a difference. It takes one person one decision at a time, to start to change the needle.

Gresham Harkless 8:13

Absolutely, yeah. That makes so much sense. Just because I think a lot of times people hear that, you know, you want to have these certain initiatives and certain things, but it always is like, the next question is probably like, how do I implement it.

So I appreciate you for, of course, bringing light to it. But then also, given those actionable steps that organizations can say, can take to make that happen. And so would you consider that to be like your secret sauce, I mean, it could be for you, or it could be for your organization. But do you think that's the thing that kind of sets you guys apart?

Rita Kakati Shah 8:37

I think what we're doing is unique in the way that we treat it as a whole journey. We don't just treat it as okay, we're going to help somebody return to the workforce, or we're going to help please people, or we're going to help to sort of just do a training element. It is holistic because a person's life is it's hard to just sort of treat one part at a time. So I think that's our way of dealing with it.

And we've had a lot of success. We've, you know, helped so many returns now. We've helped, you know, candidates, companies we've put together and curated sort of returnship programs, or any programs, mentoring sort of initiatives. And that's part of it because we look at a holistic approach. You know, initially, when we started it was putting folks back into teams together. And then other managers of other groups said, hey, you know, to myself, one of my colleagues that, Hey, we love what you guys are doing, can you kind of come and talk to our managers too.

And that's sort of how it led naturally, into being now pretty much a global enterprise. We're so glad that you know, we started as a small company, a really small organization in New York, and now we're building a presence in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Toronto, and London. So it's growing. And this is something that affects everybody around the world. And that's our end goal would be to kind of touch lives, change the company, structure, and the way they work one of the worlds.

Gresham Harkless 9:51

Yeah, I think you're definitely doing that because I like it just is going back to what we've been talking about is when you start to affect the people within an organization, then you start to have that true culture change, and also that end impact that you're you guys are having. So I definitely appreciate that.

So I wanted to switch gears a little bit. And I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an app or book or a habit that you have. But what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

Rita Kakati Shah 10:12

So I think by default, I happen to be a parent, I have two small children. And I think part of the skills for me, is just being able to organize and manage my calendar, I travel a lot, constantly in different time zones. And I think for me just sort of being very efficient, I have to have my calendar, I have to have my meeting set in the correct timezone, and just getting everything sectioned off.

So I have that time with my family, even if I'm not in the country, we FaceTime or video, or I view the majority from wherever I have that time meeting with my teams, either in person remotely via Zoom, whatever it is, and I have that time to kind of work on presentations, working on pictures actually doing the training portion as well for different companies. So I think it's just me, getting yourself organized, getting everything sectioned off, you know, everybody has limited time in the day, but you got to be efficient in how you manage that.

Gresham Harkless 11:01

Absolutely, yeah, I think a lot of times when you have like you, you're talking about, you know, different time zones, different team members, there's so many moving parts, I used to sometimes find that, I get peace by knowing that if everything's on my calendar, if I stay true to that, then I don't have to worry about all these other things, those other little small things.

And let me work on, you know, other, more high-pressing kind of Zona genius work that I should be working on. And so now I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO nugget. And this is a word of wisdom or a piece of advice. Or if you could happen to be a time machine, what would you tell your younger business self?

Rita Kakati Shah 11:31

I think if I were to rewind back to when I first started three years ago, I would tell myself to sort of really budget things out in a better place. Because for myself, when we first started Uma before we were averaging, revenue-generating you know, it was a bootstrap company, I was completely funded myself.

And I remember thinking the first thing I had to do was, get a website or get something else done and get this done. Because I thought these were things that I saw other companies doing. I will say, Yes, those are great things to have. But depending on where you are, and how much budget you have, think about your infrastructure first, what is that business plan.

Everybody talks about business plans, but why do you need it is to help you really think about, Okay, I'm going to go off and give it to an investor straight away, it's for yourself, because it helps you make a timeline, have a plan of where you're gonna go, do you really need that website straight away. Or do you need to start meeting clients and start building up some sort of a model for yourself?

Before you do that, Because once you've developed in divine design that website, and then you start, you know, having a business, you think you know what, I don't actually do that part that way, and then you just invested a lot of money. So I would say, really put down your thoughts. First, your ideas, when you first get started before actually kind of putting the cart before the horse, so to speak, and driving forth with these different plans.

Gresham Harkless 12:43

Yeah, that makes perfect sense. And I appreciate you sharing that with us. Well, I think a lot of times, you know, people look at the business plan, as something you have to complete in order to, you know, get investors or whatever that might be, but it's actually an exercise. And a lot of times you want to go through that.

And when you start planning out the business, you start to kind of maybe see that the business is not just, oh, this all needs to be taken care of on day one, it's a marathon and you start to see that maybe I can implement this at this time, or so on and so forth. But sometimes you only get to do that by actually putting down those thoughts and actually planning that out.

Rita Kakati Shah 13:12

Right. And it's constantly changing. I think that's the beauty of it. It's a plan. And it can be your own document to kind of keep yourself accountable but also make plans. And you know, even conversations you've had with different people in different industries, make a note of those, get out that Excel spreadsheet or whatever you like and start making notes of everyone you meeting what which direction they're going in, and things like that. Sometimes it's a matter of timing as well, where you are, is the timing now, or maybe wait a month or so. That's all it is. So I think it really helps.

Gresham Harkless 13:38

Yeah, absolutely, I would definitely echo that as well. So now I wanted to ask you what I call my favorite question, which is the definition of what it is to be a CEO. And we're hoping to have a different quote-unquote on CEOs on the show. So Rita, what has been CEO mean to you?

Rita Kakati Shah 13:51

CEO means to me, I guess, being in charge of my own decisions, but not just being able to make a change. So what am I doing the whole point of the whole story that will make is to make a change, changing cultural norms, societal norms, and the way business is done, how people perceive themselves back in the workforce, and what their sort of relevance is. And I can do that because I am the CEO.

So I'm able to use, I guess, being the boss of the company, so to speak, being the founder, being able to do that to really radiate the message around to companies. So I think to me, that's what it is.

Gresham Harkless 14:25

Nice. I definitely appreciate that. And you know, I think a lot of times, when we start organizations, we usually have like a vision for what we want to do to impact but you're definitely obviously, I don't know if you will use a phrase but definitely a mission-driven organization.

And because you are making such a big impact on other organizations as well, too. So I think when you have that opportunity to do that, and you have that opportunity to make that impact and to be that artist, so to speak, and create that change that you want to see in the world. That's truly where you are definitely a CEO. So I appreciate that definition.

Rita Kakati Shah 14:28

Thank you.

Gresham Harkless 14:30

You're very welcome. And I appreciate your time even more. And what I wanted to do is pass you the mic so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional, you can let our readers and listeners know. And then of course, our best way we can get a hold of you and find out about all the awesome things you guys are working on.

Rita Kakati Shah 15:06

Amazing, thanks. This has been so much fun. Being on the podcast, I just wanted to thank you again, Gresh. But also just like a nugget to leave behind the people that when you are starting a company when you are the CEO, don't give up. It can be very, very difficult. A lot of the time when you are constantly hearing No, or people just don't get your mission right now they don't get your vision because you're creating something out of sometimes nothing.

But keep persevering. If you have that passion, you have that drive, just don't give up. That is what you know, I didn't do that. And it's sort of now starting to read through the walls and we've seen how much of an impact it's making on people's lives. So absolutely just keep on at it. I would love to stay in touch with people. So if you do want to get hold of me, Uma, our website is www.beboldbeuma.com And you can get in touch with my team anytime at info at the beboldbeuma.com We're on social media as well. Our hashtags are all at beboldbeuma.

Gresham Harkless 16:03

Awesome. We will make sure to have those links in that information in the show notes as well. But I appreciate that reminder appreciate all the awesome things you're doing the reminder to definitely keep pushing on if you have a vision you have a dream you have a goal for what you want to accomplish. Don't quit, just keep going and you can definitely see the fruit of all your labor. So thank you so much again Rita, and I hope you have a great rest of the day.

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Outro 16:22

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO Podcast powered by Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at iamceo.co I AM CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community. Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes Google Play and everywhere you listen to podcasts, SUBSCRIBE, and leave us a five-star rating grab CEO gear at www.ceogear.co. This has been the I AM CEO Podcast with Gresham Harkless. Thank you for listening.

Intro 0:02

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview? If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of. This is the I AM CEO Podcast.

Gresham Harkless 0:29

Hello, this is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast and I have a very, very special guest on the show today. I've Rita Kakati Shah of Uma, Rita, it's awesome to have you on the show.

Rita Kakati Shah 0:38

Nice to be here. Gresh Thank you for having me.

Gresham Harkless 0:40

No problem. Super excited to have you on him. What I wanted to do is just read a little bit more about Rita so you can hear about all the awesome things that she's doing. And Rita is an award winning Diversity, Inclusion and Career Strategist, international speaker and currently helms Uma, an international platform that empowers women looking to return to work, as well as help companies attract, retain and develop female talent in the workplace via diversity, inclusion and retention strategies. Rita started her career at Goldman Sachs in London, where she was awarded the excellent citizenship and Diversity Award during her tenure career there. She is a recipient of the King's College, London Distinguished Alumni Award, ready to transition into the healthcare industry relocated to New York City where she took an almost four year career hiatus to raise her two children and founded Uma in response to her personal journey. Rita is also a regularly regularly invited speaker at various academic institutions, fortune 500 companies as well as global diversity and inclusion forums, such as UNESCO in Paris, Woman Who Matters in Moscow, Women in Finance in London, Women in Politics in Los Angeles and High Water Women in New York. Rita are you read speak to the I AM CEO community?

Rita Kakati Shah 1:47

I'm ready to do it.

Gresham Harkless 1:49

So to kick everything off, I want to hear a little bit more about what I call your CEO story, what led you to get started with our business?

Rita Kakati Shah 1:55

So personal journey really, a combination of starting off in one particular industry in finance, and then transitioning careers into the healthcare industry, and then relocating countries to the US to New York, where I live now. And then I took a few years off to raise my two children who are now four and six. And when I thought about returning to the workforce, I faced the biases that so many, particularly women face when they do have a career graph on their resume. So that's really what planted the seeds for starting Uma, to really empowered to help everybody who are thinking of going back there should usually be treated differently, because of your gender, or because you identify a certain way or because maybe you served in the military, or you took time off to care for your family. And that's really the underlying journey, what woman tries to solve.

Gresham Harkless 2:41

Nice, I definitely appreciate that. And I think and that's why, you know, when we talked a little bit offline, we talked about how a lot of companies and organizations, sometimes they don't realize kind of like that journey. And it usually takes somebody to create an organization or bring light to that journey to understand that there is some type of bias, it isn't as smooth sailing, when someone wants to come back into their career or come back into like a different career. A lot of times you have to work through a lot of things. And by creating an awareness, you're definitely creating it to have a better experience for everybody.

Rita Kakati Shah 3:08

So thank you for saying that. And yeah, I think part of the work that we do is because of that, I mean, when I first started Uma it was very focused on how do we empower these candidates returning to the workforce. How do we build up confidence. How do we rescale them. How do we get them ready to go back, that then naturally lead on to okay, well, that is a cyclical journey. So you're not just empowering the candidate, but you also have to educate the manager, whoever is the team leader, going back into the workforce, which really led more into the diversity and inclusivity piece of what we do at Uma. We do a lot of work with companies more, these days in educating teams, teams dynamic training, unconscious bias training, to your point, and sort of how do we get anyone who's coming back, even whether or not they've taken time off or not, but when they're back to feel part of the team, again, included. You know, you hear all the time when people leave a company. Do they leave the company. Or do they actually leave their boss. And recent research actually shows that 58% of people when they do leave the company is because they just don't get along with their boss. That is outstanding. And that is also a testament to a lot of managers haven't been taught how to lead. And that's part of where Uma comes in to kind of help with that piece.

Gresham Harkless 4:14

Yeah, that makes perfect sense. And especially, you know, you hear I hear that a lot, especially in like startups or organizations that maybe you know, start from the ground up. A lot of times that people who become managers don't necessarily have those technical skills of what makes them a good manager. Sometimes they just been there for a long time. And a lot of times, they don't necessarily know how best to lead. So it's great, you know, that you're empowering people for one, but also educating and creating that information that we all need to be successful.

Rita Kakati Shah 4:38

Yeah, I mean, to your point, I mean, you might be amazing at the job. Not saying that but then suddenly, wham bam, you're promoted and are you looking after people, but you have no clue how to look after people you know how to do your job and but then you might just put your foot in it, or you might just don't have those people skills and these days empathy is so I mean, it's always been important, but in particularly these days, when we talk about international collaboration, globalization. It's something that is so on top of mind for everyone and for companies successes, and that's really what we concentrate on that.

Gresham Harkless 5:07

Yeah, absolutely. So do you have any other things you want to kind of touch on that you guys do with whom? I know, you touched on a lot of the initiatives that you guys have. Is there anything else that you wanted to cover a little bit more?

Rita Kakati Shah 5:17

Yeah. So I guess one of the things that we do is really sort of really focused on the on the people part of it. So when somebody is coming back to the workforce, it's a matter of how do we get reacquainted back. And it's really taken a step back before that. So if somebody is a returning employee, for example, we always give managers nuggets of information, we don't say it just starts, day one, when they walk back in the office, it starts before that, you can have a gentle process of getting back into touch with them, again, invite them for a coffee or just go out for lunch or do something on a more casual basis. So it's not intrusive, to somebody's time off. But it's also helping showing them that you care about them. You want to know how to make things, how to make them feel at home, is there anything they need, skills that you need, when you get back to work, again, is getting back involved in a team, perhaps presentation skills. So we also ask the returnee to share a journey of this and talk to the team about what they've been doing, where they've been talk about any challenges as though they were presenting a form of presentation. Why? Because it helps them get those skills back in the books again, but it also really, really hones in on their own journey and getting to really know the team again, and it opens up so many conversations, it break down barriers, it really helps everyone feels as you know, as they know each other again.

Gresham Harkless 6:29

Yeah, that makes perfect sense. And I think a lot of times I usually say that, you know, we look at businesses, we look at organizations, and we sometimes forget that when we peel back kind of like the layers of a business and look past all the financials and all those things. A lot of times we forget that it's made up of people and that we as people have different experiences we have everything that we go through, we have to take, you know, different journeys, sometimes sometimes we leave, we come back, things like that. And I think you touched on that empathy piece. And then also on the course the people piece, I think that brings light to a lot of things. Sometimes we can forget when we're just kind of trudging along and kind of like the business framework, I guess you can say.

Rita Kakati Shah 6:59

Yeah. And the same journey is true throughout your career. So you know, we do a lot for particularly women in leadership positions, because that's where we see the major trade off a part of Uma is really to help that sort of development of the talent in the workforce. So you kind of have 50-50 men and women initially, that sort of peels down as life changing moments happen, it goes down to like 25%. And then bam, you have like only 5% of women in senior leadership positions. And part of that is because of the parenthood penalty, as some people call it. But it's also about what do you do to help people when they come back in. What are you doing, potentially about hours or flexibility so they can get the work done. Because they really want to that. How are you helping them do that. And then getting on board to simulator positions. So we also talk a lot of companies about not just sort of promoting women about sort of making opportunities available. But how do you do that. We tell, particularly if there's a manager who's up as a man, that you find somebody to sponsor to champion, and then make sure that person gets in that next meeting on that boardroom, make sure that part of that next leadership sort of conversation, because by actually doing that you're actually making a difference. It takes one person one decision at a time, start to change the needle.

Gresham Harkless 8:13

Absolutely, yeah. That makes so much sense. Just because I think a lot of times people hear that, you know, you want to have these certain initiatives and certain things, but it always is like, the next question is probably like, how do I implement it. So I appreciate you for of course, bringing light to it. But then also, given those actionable steps that organizations can say, can take to make that happen. And so would you consider that to be like your secret sauce, I mean, it could be for you, or it could be for your organization. But do you think that's the thing that kind of sets you guys apart?

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Rita Kakati Shah 8:37

I think what we're doing is unique in a way that we treat it as a whole journey. We don't just treat it as okay, we're going to help somebody return to the workforce, or we're going to help please people, or we're going to help to sort of just do a training element. It is holistic, because a person's life is it's hard to just sort of treat one part at a time. So I think that's our way of dealing with it. And we've had a lot of success. We've, you know, helped so many returns now. We've helped, you know, candidates, companies we've put together and curated sort of returnship programs, or any programs, mentoring sort of initiatives. And that's part of it, because we look at a holistic approach. You know, initially when we started it was putting folks back into teams together. And then other managers of other groups said, hey, you know, to myself, one of my colleagues that, Hey, we love what you guys are doing, can you kind of come and talk to our managers too. And that's sort of how it led naturally, into being now pretty much a global enterprise. We're so glad that you know, we started as a small company, really small organization in New York, and now we're building a presence in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Toronto and London. So it's growing. And this is something that affects everybody around the world. And that's our end goal would be to kind of touch lives, change company, structure, the way they work one of the world's.

Gresham Harkless 9:51

Yeah, I think you're definitely doing that because I like it just is going back to what we've been talking about is when you start to affect the people within an organization, then you start to have that true culture change and also that end impact that you're you guys are having. So I definitely appreciate that. So I wanted to switch gears a little bit. And I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an app or book or a habit that you have. But what's something that makes you more effective and efficient.

Rita Kakati Shah 10:12

So I think by default, I happen to be a parent, I have two small children. And I think part of the skills for me, it's just been able to organize and manage my calendar, I travel a lot, constantly in different time zones. And I think for me just sort of being very efficient, I have to have my calendar, I have to have my meeting set in the correct timezone, and just getting everything sectioned off. So I have that time with my family, even if I'm not in the country, we FaceTime or video or I view the majority from wherever I have that time meeting with my teams, either in person remotely via zoom, whatever it is, and I have that time to kind of work on presentations, working on pictures actually doing the training portion as well for for different companies. So I think it's just the me, getting yourself organized, getting everything sectioned off, you know, everybody has limited time in the day, but you got to be efficient in how you manage that.

Gresham Harkless 11:01

Absolutely, yeah, I think a lot of times when you have like you, you're talking about, you know, different time zones, different team members, there's so many moving parts, I used to sometimes find that, I get peace by knowing that if everything's on my calendar, if I stay true to that, then I don't have to worry about all these other things, those other little small things, and let me work on, you know, other, more high pressing kind of Zona genius work that I should be working on. And so now I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO nugget. And this is a word of wisdom or a piece of advice. Or if you can happen to a time machine, what would you tell your younger business self?

Rita Kakati Shah 11:31

I think if I were to rewind back to when I first started three years ago, that I would tell myself to sort of really budget things out in a better place. Because for myself, when we first started Uma before we were averaging, revenue generating you know, it was a bootstrap company, I was completely funded myself. And I remember thinking the first thing I had to do was, get a website or get something else done and get this done. Because I thought these are things that I see other companies happening. I will say, Yes, those are great things to have. But depending on where you are, how much budget you have, think about your infrastructure first, what is that business plan. Everybody talks about business plan, but why do you need it is to help you really think about, Okay, I'm going to go off and give it to an investor straight away, it's for yourself, because it helps you make a timeline, have a plan of where you're gonna go, do you really need that website straightaway? Or do you need to have start meeting clients and start building up some sort of a model for yourself? Before you do that, Because once you've developed in divine design that website, and then you start, you know, having a business, you think you know what, I don't actually do that part that way, and then you just invested a lot of money. So I would say, really put down your thoughts. First, your ideas, when you first get started before actually kind of putting the cart before horse, so to speak, and driving forth with these different plans.

Gresham Harkless 12:43

Yeah, that makes perfect sense. And I appreciate you sharing that with us. Well, I think a lot of times, you know, people look at the business plan, as a something you have to complete in order to, you know, get investors or whatever that might be, but it's actually an exercise. And a lot of times you want to go through that. And when you start planning out the business, you start to kind of maybe see that the business is not just, oh, this all needs to be taken care of on day one, it's a marathon and you start to see that maybe I can implement this at this time, or so on and so forth. But sometimes you only get to do that by actually putting down those thoughts and actually planning that out.

Rita Kakati Shah 13:12

Right. And it's constantly changing. I think that's the beauty of it. It's a plan. And it can it's your own document to kind of keep yourself accountable, but also make plans. And you know, even conversations you've had with different people in different industries, make a note of those, get out that Excel spreadsheet or whatever you like and start making notes of everyone you meeting what which direction they're going in, and things like that. Sometimes it's a matter of timing as well, where you are, is the timing should be now or maybe wait a month or so. That's all it is. So I think it really helps.

Gresham Harkless 13:38

Yeah, absolutely, I would definitely echo that as well. So now I wanted to ask you for what I call my favorite question, which is the definition of what it is to be a CEO. And we're hoping to have different quote unquote on CEOs on the show. So Rita, what has been CEO mean to you?

Rita Kakati Shah 13:51

CEO mean to me, I guess, being in charge of my own decisions, but not just that making being able to make a change. So what am I doing so the whole point of the whole story that will make is to make a change, changing cultural norms, societal norms, and the way business is done, how people perceive themselves back in the workforce, what their sort of relevance is. And I can do that, because I am the CEO. So I'm able to use, I guess, being the boss of the company, so to speak, being the founder, being able to do that to really radiate the message around to companies. So I think to me, that's what it is.

Gresham Harkless 14:25

Nice. I definitely appreciate that. And you know, I think a lot of times, when we start organizations, we usually have like a vision for what we want to do to impact but you're definitely obviously, I don't know if you will use a phrase but definitely a mission driven organization. And because you are making such a big impact on other organizations as well, too. So I think when you have that opportunity to to do that, and you have that opportunity to make that impact and to be that artists, so to speak and create that change that you want to see in the world. That's truly where you are definitely a CEO. So I appreciate that definition.

Rita Kakati Shah 14:28

Thank you.

Gresham Harkless 14:30

You're very welcome. And I appreciate your time even more. And what I wanted to do is pass you the mic so to speak, just to see there's anything additional, you can let our readers and listeners know. And then of course, our best way we can get a hold of you and find out about all the awesome things you guys are working on.

Rita Kakati Shah 15:06

Amazing, thanks. This has been so much fun. Being on the podcast, I just wanted to thank you again Gresh. But also just like a nugget to leave behind the people that when you are starting a company, when you are the CEO, don't give up. It can be very, very difficult. A lot of the time where you are constantly hearing No, or people just don't get your mission right now they don't get your vision because you're creating something out of sometimes nothing. But keep persevering. If you have that passion, you have that drive, just don't give up. That is what you know, I didn't do that. And it's sort of now starting to read through the walls and we've seen how much of an impact it's making on people's lives. So absolutely just keep on at it. I would love to stay in touch with people. So if you do want to get hold of myself, Uma, our website is www.beboldbeuma.com And you can get in touch with my team anytime at info at the beboldbeuma.com We're on social media as well. Our hashtags are all at beboldbeuma.

Gresham Harkless 16:03

Awesome. We will make sure to have those links in that information in the show notes as well. But I appreciate that reminder appreciate all the awesome things you're doing the reminder to definitely keep pushing on if you have a vision you have a dream you have a goal for what you want to accomplish. Don't quit, just keep going and you can definitely see the fruit of all your labor. So thank you so much again Rita, and I hope you have a great rest of the day.

Outro 16:22

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO Podcast powered by Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at iamceo.co I AM CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community. Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes Google Play and everywhere you listen to podcasts, SUBSCRIBE, and leave us a five-star rating grab CEO gear at www.ceogear.co. This has been the I AM CEO Podcast with Gresham Harkless. Thank you for listening.

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Mercy - CBNation Team

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(CEOBlogNation.com), podcasts, (CEOPodcasts.com) and videos (CBNation.tv). CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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