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Lola Jutta
8 Aug 2018 . 1 min read

The Inspiring Story of Sheroes NYC Band Ambassadors Avika Shah and Nilomi Mehta


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What is it like to grow up as a woman of Indian origin outside of India?

Are cultural differences, the real issue for her?

As SHEROES spreads its wings in all corners of the world, our new members add to the diversity and richness of what it means to be a Shero. This article traces the journey of two special women - SHEROES Ambassadors from New York City - Avika Shah and Nilomi Mehta.

Avika's Story:

Ques:  Tell us a bit about yourself - where you were born, your professional journey so far and some life goals you can't stop thinking about?

Ans: My name is Avika Shah and I am currently a Senior Financial Services Consultant at Ernst&Young. I was born and raised in New Jersey and went to Babson College for undergrad, graduating in 2015 with a degree in Business Administration and a double concentration in marketing and entrepreneurship.

I have played soccer my whole life – you could say it was “my first love”. I have enjoyed my time at EY so far, specifically working within automation, payments and lending products. It has been a transformative experience and truly one that I am grateful for.

My goal in life is to do what makes me happy 'in the moment'. I am very much someone who likes to smile, laugh and enjoy life; and I want to be sure that my career aligns with that as well. I also want to be sure that my work is making a positive impact on the world around us and provides value to consumers every day.

Ques: Everyone is talking about women empowerment these days. What was your experience growing up?

Ans: My beautiful mother has been my idol since I was born. She is passionate, empathetic and full of knowledge. She worked full-time for 20 years, most of my life. And still made time to cook us dinner, take us to sports practices, cheer us on at games, and help with homework or whatever else was going in life. She is our family’s glue.

With that being said, my father has always instilled confidence in me to pursue my dreams and that any goal can be accomplished with dedication, courage and a plan. I grew up with the biggest support system and am thankful every day for that.

Ques:  What attracted you to SHEROES? How is it meaningful for you?

Ans: SHEROES is cool because it is targeted towards women of all ages and backgrounds. It is imperative for women to stick together and the best way is to show all of us how much we can relate to each other and benefit from each other’s experiences, stories, and support.

It is awesome that there is a forum specifically for women’s voices to be heard and appreciated.

Ques:  What are some obstacles you have had to overcome? Who helped you and how?

Ans: I have always struggled with my Indian identity. Since I grew up in America and do not know Hindi or Gujarati like the majority of my extended family, I spent most of my time growing up playing soccer 7 days a week. So I was not able to attend Jain School or Indian dancing lessons.

I always felt like an outlier in the Indian society, but it wasn’t until I found out what SHEROES was that I knew this was my chance to bring other Indian women like me together. My family has always made sure I knew that as long as I was a good person, I could be whomever I wanted to be, and for that I am grateful.

Sometimes labels aren’t always necessary and everyone just wants to be treated equally as a human.

Ques: What is it like to be a professional woman in NYC in 2018?

Ans: It’s pretty refreshing. I think there is such a movement right now for women to become leaders and there is so much corporate support to instill confidence in women in the workplace.

There is always room for improvement, but it is fun being a part of a group of women breaking down barriers and ceilings.

Ques: What are your aspirations for women as SHEROES NYC chapter leads?

Ans: I want all women’s stories to be heard and to resonate with one another. It is crucial for women to support each other, and I want all women to know that there is always a support system out there for them.

Nilomi's Story:

Ques: Tell us a bit about yourself - where you were born, your professional journey so far and some life goals you can't stop thinking about?

Ans: My name is Nilomi Mehta and I am currently a Senior Advisory Associate, with a focus on capital markets at KPMG.

I was born in Bombay, but I grew up in Bangkok. After Bangkok, I went to Babson College and graduated with a concentration in Technology, Entrepreneurship, Design and International Business.

Living and working in New York has been a dream of mine since I was 7, and to have the opportunity to live it has been an absolute pleasure.

Growing up I was the ultimate “tomboy”, however, it was always assumed that I would marry at the “appropriate age” (i.e. young - the idea of a job was never entertained). But to be in the place I am now, makes me hopeful for what is in store for us, as women in the future. As a person, I love experiencing new things, new cities, and the occasional societal rebellion.

The future seems more promising for women with each day that passes, and I hope to be a part of that positive movement. I would love to be able to create value through what I do and provide opportunities for more women to excel.

Ques: Everyone is talking about women empowerment these days. What was your experience growing up? What are some obstacles you have had to overcome? Who helped you and how?

Ans: Even though I grew up in Bangkok and went to an international school, I still came from a semi-conservative Indian Gujarati family.

My father went to work and my mum was a housewife. Her commitment to her children and her family is something that I admire and someday hope to emulate. She told me to do whatever and be whatever I want (with the caveat that I should get married one day – let’s face it, she wouldn’t be an Indian parent if she didn’t think this way).

She told me to get an education and bank on it. Because that is what will get me closer to my dreams. She told me to travel and meet new people because that is what will give me perspective.

My mom is the woman that empowers me, in a community where independent women are dismissed, marriage seems like the ultimate goal and cooking is the standard marker for success.

I can say that even though I grew up in a conservative community with very few role models of independent women, it was my mother who taught me to empower myself and go from there.

In addition to my family, I have been extremely lucky to have the support of my friends who have been there when I was dealing with the lowest moments of my life (e.g. issues I may have at work, dealing with stereotypes of being a minority woman and so much more).

I have grown to appreciate when a friendship evolves beyond a simple meal but to a lifetime of support and kindness.

Ques: What attracted you to SHEROES? How is it meaningful for you?

Ans: The thing that I appreciate the most about SHEROES is that it considers women from all walks of life in their community.

There are professional women, housewives, entrepreneurs and there are content and support created for everyone.

Sheroes doesn’t assume that all women have the same starting line, and understands that women have different definitions of empowerment.

I think that it is incredibly powerful, and it is what will continue to make the SHEROES community a success.

Ques: What is it like to be a professional woman in NYC in 2018?

Ans: Being a professional woman in New York is a dream and its something that I do not take for granted.

Although there have been instances when my credibility and ideas have been challenged because of who I am (i.e. a woman). However, the sheer energy of this city makes one want to change the world. This city is at the forefront of female empowerment, and it inspires me to transfer this energy to as many women as I can.

Ques: What are your aspirations for women as SHEROES NYC chapter leads?

Ans: I hope that through SHEROES NYC we can create a supportive and judgment-free community for women of all backgrounds and cultures to share their story and feel empowered!

Did you saw?

Two women sitting in NYC feel same, the way you feel in India or anywhere in the world.  What is that which connects each and every women on this planet? Is it being a woman or is it women empowerment that everyone is talking about these days?

There is a strong bond between women across the globe which gives them strength. An undocumented but huge support system that a woman needs when she is willing to take a challenge in her life or when she is facing her fear. I feel it is empathy for one another to support each other whenever a woman needs.


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Lola Jutta
An unapologetic writer, budding travel enthusiast and a default optimist! Life is what you make out of it.

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