We had the good fortune of connecting with Rita Kakati-Shah and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rita, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
Uma is a strategic coaching and training platform that empowers confidence, inspires success, and builds leadership and resilience in women and minorities around the world. We are diversity, equity and inclusion experts, with over 25 years experience advising teams, organizations and policymakers on building and sustaining diverse and inclusive teams. We have successfully coached and mentored schoolchildren, girls in STEM, university students, women survivors of domestic violence, military veterans and spouses, C-Suite executives, entrepreneurs and mothers transitioning careers from cities around the world. Uma was named after the Hindu Goddess – a mother, sibling, wife and creator, full of determination, courage and confidence, She truly is the “Goddess of Go-Getting” and forms the foundation of our work at Uma, of building unshakable confidence to meet any situation head on. To date we are so proud to have impacted thousands of girls, women and families around the world.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I started my career on the Equities trading floor of Goldman Sachs in London, and fell into diversity and inclusion before it was even a formal term, back in the early 2000s, initially by being one of very few women on the trading floor, and also as a person of color. So I helped formalize the Women’s Network across Europe and build the Asian Professional’s Network globally. Following a decade of working in various areas across the firm, I transitioned careers into the pharmaceutical and CNS drug development industry, where I was in Business Development, traveling quite frequently to strike deals with key opinion leaders in neurology and psychology. My travels took my to New York, where I now live after getting married. I have two small children, for whom I transitioned careers into a caregiving role to raise, and have to say that motherhood has been by far the most challenging of all my career pursuits! I started Uma in response to my various cultural experiences and my motherhood journey. I had moments of self-doubt and discovered ways of finding my inner voice, passion and confidence, leading to the birth of Uma. It’s through Uma that I hope to help other women and minority groups feel empowered, develop unshakable confidence, feel inspired to succeed and build resilience and leadership.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If you’re visiting New York City, then there are some amazing places that I’d recommend you experience on your trip. Start with a trip to Ellis Island to see the Statue of Liberty, then a historic bus tour where you can hop and off at various museums around the city such as the Guggenheim or Met. Walking the Highline and across Brooklyn Bridge are great outdoorsy activities too, as is a mandatory picnic in Central Park with a hamper from the iconic Upper West Side family run grocer’s, Zabar’s. Then there are the touristy buildings with amazing views, such as Empire State Building (cue King Kong), Times Square, and the memorial and Freedom Tower at Ground Zero. There are comedy, theatre, musical performances, as well as ballet, opera and dance numbers around Lincoln Centre for example. Don’t forget to pack an extra suitcase (or two) to shop till you drop, and then head to the Plaza for some Afternoon Tea, or to Tea and Sympathy for some good old Anglo Ribena and treacle pudding.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My parents, who taught me the meaning of resilience; my children who are the next generation of leaders and are the reason I do what I do; my husband for co-parenting and believing in the impact and importance of my work; and my puppy for the boundless energy and unconditional love.