Wealth Management and Financial Literacy Coach
According to the 2017 World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, Female Talent remains one of the most underutilised business resources. In some industries like finance, this is especially true.
“When I started my career in UAE, the place was new to me and being a female Financial Advisor was a challenge as this sector was predominantly male dominated. But I took this challenge as an opportunity to do what my passion is and made my place pretty soon,” says Asha Sharma, comprising one among the 2% women at the top of the financial sector in UAE.
This empowered outlook enabled Asha to build a thriving career spanning 15-16 years as a financial advisor and wealth management coach. She holds the rare distinction of being a consistent member of the much sought after ‘Platinum Club’ – An elite club of financial advisors in the UAE.
Yet, it is ‘financial literacy’ that forms the core of Asha’s work life today. She feels, “Financial literacy among women can bridge the gap of gender inequality. Women must take charge of their finances and the first step towards that is to understand money.”
Asha conducts workshops and coaches women to take control of their money and money related decisions. She has been invited by various prestigious organisations like the Millionaire Club of Africa to share her knowledge. She was also a sponsor as well as a speaker at the esteemed ‘Wellness, Technology and Fashion’ forum held recently in the UAE.
Born and brought up in India in a defence background (her father was in the Army), Asha says the disciplined environment helped her internalise the focus, planning and organisation. And now as a daughter, wife and mother, she considers herself extremely fortunate to have her family’s full support.
Revealing how she’s been asked the question, ‘Can women really have it all?’ time and again, Asha says, “My take on this is: Balancing professional and personal life is challenging, but essential. First accept there is no ‘perfect work-life balance’ and without family support and extended help it would be difficult to achieve any balance at all. I personally never strive for a perfect schedule but a realistic one. Balance is achieved over time, not every day. I have sacrificed a lot when it comes to family time. Many-a-times I couldn’t make it to my daughters school programs when she performed, her eyes desperately searching for her mother among other parents. Professionally, I avoid evening meetings as the kids wait for me to share school stories over dinner.”
As a working woman herself, what according to Asha can corporates do to retain women? She says that the corporates are increasingly making an effort by offering flexible hours to new mothers, providing much needed paternity and maternity leaves, sharing success stories of women, and providing equal platforms for women employees.
But she is of the opinion that women themselves can do much to climb the ladder. “Increase your value by adopting a disciplined career life. Continuously invest in yourself and upgrade your skill sets. Read books, enroll in seminars and attend trainings regularly. Challenge yourself daily. Remember, growth and comfort do not coexist. And don’t hesitate to self promote yourself and bring your value on the table,” shares Asha.
As an accomplished woman in a male dominion, there is not much that Asha has not faced. What then has been her biggest challenge? “Biological clock and career clock do not go hand in hand. The age and time you have a lot of energy and want to propel your career upwards is often the time to start a family. For me, rejoining the work-force after pregnancy and maternity leave was most challenging.”
Yet here she is just a few years down the line, succeeding and helping others do it. “My passion is to add value to society, to peoples’ lives, to bring positive changes around me if needed, and this drives me to walk an extra mile.” Asha also serves as a board member of an NGO in Nepal which helps vulnerable, poor, and uneducated women. “We guide them to learn some sort of vocation so they can be financially independent. Communication and support from the right channel is one way to bring them back to the mainstream and I coordinate with various departments to organise camps, get government support, and arrange funding from individuals and organisations to sponsor the girls.”
Persistent and consistent with a proven killer instinct, Asha is ready to slay the global stage..