Asha Sharma is an inspiring financial advisor who has achieved soaring recognition for her financial services over the years at Nexus Insurance Brokers. She has been repeatedly recognized as a top performer and has been awarded accolades and rewards for her achievements. She is the only woman top performer in her batch and has been an inspiration for hundreds of women. We got a chance to interview her to know more about how she manages an extremely demanding personal and professional life to achieve success some women may only dream of.
Here is our discussion with Asha:
1) Asha, Please tell us about yourself, your college years and what do you consider is the mission of your life?
My early childhood has lot of discipline involved. My father is retired Indian Army Officer and I traveled lengths and breadths of India. Growing up in an army officer’s house and few years in boarding school contributed immensely in developing my personality and the value system I have. I got attributes that helped me shape my career as well as my approach towards life.
I learned to “NEVER GIVE UP”. I became a resilient fighter who knows how to hold up against tsunamis and stand tall in tough times. I do not give up easily and that is my major strength. Moreover, I have been taught to respect others and live in discipline. I am driven and that is how I keep consistently working towards my life goals and make achievements possible. I am a financial advisor and have been serving in this role for many years now.
The cause of empowering and helping women is at the heart of all my social activities. I am a big time supporter of women empowerment. I strongly believe that we all need to work to make underprivileged women stronger. During high school and college years, I was extremely determined to raise voice against crude institution of dowry which was resulting in female infanticide, suicide, bride burning and other indignities and cruelties. During 80s and 90s when I was growing up I remember an article which stated that a total of 162 cases of wife burning were reported in Delhi alone between 1st April and 30th June 1983. The major cause behind these incidents was dowry. I was young and I remember I felt terrible pain. That was the moment when I decided to do something for women. I am continuously working for the cause of liberating and empowering women for many years now. So that is pretty much about me as a person.
2) What do you believe is the greatest achievement in your life? How do you make it possible? Share few facts from your journey.
I work as Financial Advisor and am extremely passionate about my profession. I believe the advisory services add a lot of value to people’s life. The greatest achievement in my life is running a personal system that allows me to provide financial support for education of one female child in India.
Every 2-3 years I choose one girl in India and pay for her Higher Education. I extend help to girls who have potential but their parents cannot afford to pay for their higher education. Till now I have financed higher education for four young girls and all of them are working at the moment as professionals successfully. I feel extremely blessed and grateful that I am in a position to give some one something that makes them financially independent and happy.
My second achievement, as I recall is, to help one person with their life insurance policy and it really helped as he died within a few years and his wife who had to support three children alone could get the assured sum released. She was very happy and relieved of her financial trouble at the time that she extended many thanks to me. At that time my belief in my profession increased many folds, and I realized I am in an amazing noble profession. Therefore, I consider helping people with their future financial planning as a personal achievement as I empower them through efficient planning and investment.
3)It is not possible for anyone to reach a certain level without driving force, what has been your greatest driving force? What kept you motivated through life’s journey?
I completely believe if you are not passionate about what you do, there is no way to be at the top of ladder. So I am driven by my passion to help people, here is what Mary Kinney says, “ Find your passion and Mission you believe in”. I am able to do much because I have discovered my passion and I work accordingly.
Financial planning industry adds immense value to people’s lives. As a financial advisor my role is to bring order to people’s financial life. I help them to avoid emotionally driven decisions in important money matters. I educate people to have adequate critical illness coverage because I have seen families going bankrupt when bread winner of the home unfortunately lands there. This is how I give back to the society.
My profession brings positive change, my biggest motivation is to educate more people and give more back to the society.
4) What do you consider your identity as a woman? Did you find any hurdles in life that came from being who you are? Were there any failures? If yes how did you manage through and overcome those?
Identity refers to conscious awareness of who you are: My life has changed through the years, and so have my various roles and identities. My transformation has been smooth from a lively spirited young girl to confident, ambitious woman, wife, mother and a determined woman who must create her own identity.
I have faced challenges of course. As initially I was not accepted as a professional in male-dominated finance oriented industry but I kept true to myself and eventually I found my own voice. And then came the phase of struggle between a mother and a career oriented woman. While I played many roles in my life, I learned to maintain work-life balance through experience.
I believe I haven’t had any failures but there have been challenges. Especially the early motherhood time when I had little babies and I struggled to strike a balance. I did not give up and yes my strengths helped me on.
5) Asha, we all know that apart from being a financial advisor you do more, your role as a member on the board of directors of an NGO in Nepal is significance and keeps you very busy. Tell us more about your work with the NGO in Nepal?
Yes the NGO in Nepal is another responsibility that I enjoy working on. This organization helps poor uneducated woman who are often very vulnerable. My role is to motivate and guide them to learn some sort of vocation so that they can be financially independent. Especially, I work with young women who are abused at home, raped or harassed. These girls are not willing to talk about it or disclose their problems, and if they don’t talk, it will not come out of their system. They will live in guilt, self-blame, shame and will never rise. Communication and right support from right channel is one way to bring them back to main stream and my role is coordinating with various departments to organize camps, getting permissions from governments to extend support to these women. I am working to make happy lives possible.
6) How do you manage a full time career, serving a NGO, working as a financial advisor, and taking care of your family?
To be very honest I work long hours. My day starts at 5:30 am and ends at around 11:00 pm. I have pre-planned work schedule therefore, I am very well-organized. What I do is so rewarding, fulfilling and am so passionate about it that I don’t feel exhausted at all. I feel my kids are getting a great role model to shape their future.
7) What are your present priorities? Where do you envision yourself in the future? What are your strengths? How did you discover them?
My first priority is to take our NGO to the next level by covering more women and children so that our mission is fulfilled and the NGO progresses by helping more people. I aim at educating more people to get adequate coverage of Critical Illness.
My strengths are persistence, consistency, focus and discipline in life. In order to discover my strengths and weaknesses I indulge in self-reflection and thinking.
8) What advice do you have for mothers and wives? How do you believe they should make personal development and growth possible?
Matter of fact is “So many women lose themselves in motherhood. It’s a process of slowly fading away from yourself, your interests and your passions with out even realizing”. In order to have the right balance, every woman, who has become a mother, must love and respect herself first. This will allow her to be strong and consistent. She will be able to contribute more towards the well-being of her family. If she ignores herself and does not build her strengths she might not become a successful wife and mother. I’d say:
9) Who has inspired you most in your life?
I seek inspiration from many people. But my biggest inspiration is always at home. My Father who made me who I am today is my greatest inspiration. Mother Teresa has left massive impact on my soul and is a lasting inspiration for me.
10) What has been the most difficult moment in your life? How did you overcome it?
Honestly, I am very fortunate to have smooth journey, but, yes, initially work and personal life balance was a challenge. I learnt over the time, it is not easy to strike a balance between personal life and work commitments, but it is very much achievable with a little discipline.
11) Many believe woman empowerment is a myth. What are your views about it?
I believe women are actually born empowered. But as I work for women in the NGO in Nepal, I have witnessed and I am quite convinced, there are still many places in the world where women are underprivileged. They need help. It is our responsibility to uplift them and offer support. People who believe women empowerment is a myth, I request them to visit slums of any country, I am sure that will change their views.
Here you go:
Thank you very much for being with us Asha. It was absolute pleasure to speak with you.