Hetal Nathwani is the business development manager at Cytonn Investments. After completing her secondary school education, Hetal never attended college and instead studied at home and took exams virtually.
She has an Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) certificate and is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) level three candidate.
What motivated you to start learning on your own rather than go to class?
Initially, I had no choice. But once I started, studying at home became my preferred way of learning. I come from Bungoma and for a long time, there were no reputable courses offered by institutions of learning there. I always wanted to be a doctor, but after completing high school, I couldn’t travel to Nairobi or any other place to study because I was fully involved in our family business. After four years of waiting for the right time to travel to Nairobi, I realised that there is no such thing as the “right time”. I did not want to give up on education, so I chose to study finance and investments from home.
How do you decide what course to take and where do you get the required resources?
I believe a lot in research, so before I decide what I want to do, I read and research as much as I can online, and also look for the best articles available on the internet. It is now much easier to get reading material compared to when I had just finished high school. We now have Google which makes it easier for you to learn and improve on what others have done.
What are the benefits of learning at home and would you encourage others to do it?
It allows you a great deal of flexibility since you can choose when and where you want to study, your learning style and your pace too. I also get satisfaction from knowing that I accomplished my tasks with minimal supervision. That feeling is addictive and I would definitely advise people to try learning on their own. It is not as hard as it sounds. All you need to do is set smart goals to guide you along, and be disciplined.
How did you get the much-sought after-work experience?
Going to school doesn’t mean one has the required skills and experience. Formal education, in my opinion, is just proof that you can accomplish an objective. Having the necessary skill is a different issue altogether. Many employers are now increasingly realising this, and are using aptitude and psychometric tests to measure their potential employees’ mettle. Your capabilities will show in the entire application process – how you write your emails, how fast you respond and even how you carry yourself. I have been in thousands of recruitment interviews for interns at Cytonn, and I don’t always look at the candidates’ CVs. I look at their personality and judge whether they are suitable for the position. You need to have the right attitude, be willing to learn and be ready to be corrected.
What is your role as a business development manager?
To grow the business on different fronts, including global fundraising and strategising on new business initiatives. My typical day involves a lot of communication, speaking to clients and heads of institutions, and holding training programmes. I also review investor presentations, training materials and analyse reports shared by my team.
You joined Cytonn Investments as an intern and rose to become a manager. What is your secret for success?
The trick is to adequately train those I work with. You can’t go forward unless you train someone to do your job, so I take training seriously. I always strive to train my team members to be better than me in what they do. Once they get there, I know it’s time for me to move.
What do you love most about your job?
Its dynamic and flexible nature, and the fact that I am allowed to fail and move on.
What is your motivation in life?
I find my greatest motivation in God and my family. I have a strong support system in my husband and our families. My partner is a perfectionist who is always finding ways of improving himself, and I am trying to keep up with him. The unconditional love I have for my children is the reason I work so hard. I can never let them down.
What other interests are you pursuing outside your job?
I am still studying investment, although I am also considering studying law in future. This will help me get an all-round perspective when advising my clients in terms of conveyancing, estate planning and other investment laws. Outside my professional life, I enjoy cooking and I love experiencing nature as well as nurturing my spirituality.
What is your greatest achievement so far?
My efforts in developing other people’s careers. I am passionate about passing on the life lessons and skills that I have, whether to my children or to my colleagues at work.