Blog
Kenya    Tanzania    Philippines    Mexico    India
On Finding The Right Path
bobellabrands
• 3 minute read

As long as I can remember, I have always questioned the status quo. Growing up in my traditional Indian family, I often wondered why the path of success was so narrowly defined for myself and many others around me. The linear life I was prescribed as a child seemed noble enough — good grades meant prestigious degrees which meant a lucrative job which meant my kids could enjoy the same. But I always felt there was another way. I was convinced there was something more.

Looking back, I feel fortunate to have been surrounded by supportive people as I pursued my own journey, and fortunate to have had experiences as unique as the path I wanted to live. A few of these stand out among the rest:

  1. Traveling to India as a child: If memories are scars, the sights of extreme poverty in India are ones that will never leave me. I remember one day in particular, I saw a woman and her daughter begging in the streets. She looked deep into my eyes, and I could not stop looking back. I felt empathy, and I couldn’t help thinking about the fact that we really weren’t that different. It was incomprehensible that just because I was born into my family instead of hers, I got to live comfortably while she had to suffer. Life is not fair. But we all have a choice — and I choose to not look away.
  2. Living and studying in Buenos Aires: In my first experience living outside of the United States, I got a glimpse into a different way of life. Although Argentina is a developed nation, it was not immune to the repercussions of political corruption and economic instability. Every week, there were strikes that kept us from attending class. There were taxi drivers who were doctors and teachers by profession, but had to resort to driving after they couldn’t find work. Stability is a privilege.
  3. Working for a year in a small Spanish village: Against the advice of almost everyone I knew, I decided to go abroad post-grad to a town where I quickly discovered the only thing more foreign than English was vegetarianism. As a teacher, and an increasingly creative chef, I made friends in unlikely places and I earned just enough to pay my rent and explore Europe. While I learned more than I ever expected to about myself, my most profound realization was that there was an entire world out there I knew very little about. I was forced to get lost and find my way. Challenges are my gateways to growth.
  4. Hiking Mount Kilimanjaro: In addition to the intense physical and mental challenge this took, I spent time with local Tanzanians learning about their backgrounds and ambitions. I met extremely hardworking and talented people who were able to make ends meet, but struggled to advance beyond their current financial situations and provide a better path for future generations. The formula for prosperity is not the same for everyone.

After a few years of working in consulting and microfinance, I knew it was time for something different. I had a strong yet unfulfilled desire to directly impact the lives of people like those I had met in previous endeavors around the world. A little over two years ago, I found an opportunity to do just that. A start-up with a small but inspiring team, and a tremendous social mission to solve one of the most important and complex problems in today’s global economy. Unlike my prior positions, there was no clear role and a lot of uncertainty about the future (as is the case with many early-stage ventures), but I wanted a big challenge and here it was.

Tala’s mission is to provide credit scores and access to formal financial services to the billions of unbanked individuals in emerging markets. In my two years at Tala (formerly InVenture), I have learned more than any amount of classroom education could have possibly given me. As the SVP of Product and Growth, I spend my days collaborating with a passionate team across three continents, creating and running product and UX experiments, planning Tala’s growth strategy into new markets, and relentlessly tracking and improving our key metrics. I will be sharing more about this work and our learnings here in the future, but I wanted to start on a more personal note.

While it hasn’t been without some unexpected zigs and zags, I am excited about owning my unique and constantly evolving path. I am even more excited about what’s coming next. As I’ll try to do in all future posts, three simple truths to leave you with:

  1. There is no right path.
  2. If you try to find THE path, you will drive yourself crazy.
  3. Every experience shapes us, even if we don’t know it at the time.

Stay in touch, I always love meeting new people and sharing stories.

Follow me on twitter: @amigosalia

Expanding financial access, choice and control for 3 billion underserved globally.
Tala provides modern credit for the mobile world
Blog
Kenya    Tanzania    Philippines    Mexico    India
On Finding The Right Path
bobellabrands
• 3 minute read

As long as I can remember, I have always questioned the status quo. Growing up in my traditional Indian family, I often wondered why the path of success was so narrowly defined for myself and many others around me. The linear life I was prescribed as a child seemed noble enough — good grades meant prestigious degrees which meant a lucrative job which meant my kids could enjoy the same. But I always felt there was another way. I was convinced there was something more.

Looking back, I feel fortunate to have been surrounded by supportive people as I pursued my own journey, and fortunate to have had experiences as unique as the path I wanted to live. A few of these stand out among the rest:

  1. Traveling to India as a child: If memories are scars, the sights of extreme poverty in India are ones that will never leave me. I remember one day in particular, I saw a woman and her daughter begging in the streets. She looked deep into my eyes, and I could not stop looking back. I felt empathy, and I couldn’t help thinking about the fact that we really weren’t that different. It was incomprehensible that just because I was born into my family instead of hers, I got to live comfortably while she had to suffer. Life is not fair. But we all have a choice — and I choose to not look away.
  2. Living and studying in Buenos Aires: In my first experience living outside of the United States, I got a glimpse into a different way of life. Although Argentina is a developed nation, it was not immune to the repercussions of political corruption and economic instability. Every week, there were strikes that kept us from attending class. There were taxi drivers who were doctors and teachers by profession, but had to resort to driving after they couldn’t find work. Stability is a privilege.
  3. Working for a year in a small Spanish village: Against the advice of almost everyone I knew, I decided to go abroad post-grad to a town where I quickly discovered the only thing more foreign than English was vegetarianism. As a teacher, and an increasingly creative chef, I made friends in unlikely places and I earned just enough to pay my rent and explore Europe. While I learned more than I ever expected to about myself, my most profound realization was that there was an entire world out there I knew very little about. I was forced to get lost and find my way. Challenges are my gateways to growth.
  4. Hiking Mount Kilimanjaro: In addition to the intense physical and mental challenge this took, I spent time with local Tanzanians learning about their backgrounds and ambitions. I met extremely hardworking and talented people who were able to make ends meet, but struggled to advance beyond their current financial situations and provide a better path for future generations. The formula for prosperity is not the same for everyone.

After a few years of working in consulting and microfinance, I knew it was time for something different. I had a strong yet unfulfilled desire to directly impact the lives of people like those I had met in previous endeavors around the world. A little over two years ago, I found an opportunity to do just that. A start-up with a small but inspiring team, and a tremendous social mission to solve one of the most important and complex problems in today’s global economy. Unlike my prior positions, there was no clear role and a lot of uncertainty about the future (as is the case with many early-stage ventures), but I wanted a big challenge and here it was.

Tala’s mission is to provide credit scores and access to formal financial services to the billions of unbanked individuals in emerging markets. In my two years at Tala (formerly InVenture), I have learned more than any amount of classroom education could have possibly given me. As the SVP of Product and Growth, I spend my days collaborating with a passionate team across three continents, creating and running product and UX experiments, planning Tala’s growth strategy into new markets, and relentlessly tracking and improving our key metrics. I will be sharing more about this work and our learnings here in the future, but I wanted to start on a more personal note.

While it hasn’t been without some unexpected zigs and zags, I am excited about owning my unique and constantly evolving path. I am even more excited about what’s coming next. As I’ll try to do in all future posts, three simple truths to leave you with:

  1. There is no right path.
  2. If you try to find THE path, you will drive yourself crazy.
  3. Every experience shapes us, even if we don’t know it at the time.

Stay in touch, I always love meeting new people and sharing stories.

Follow me on twitter: @amigosalia

Expanding financial access, choice and control for 3 billion underserved globally.
Tala provides modern credit for the mobile world