Your NYC Neighbor – is a way of introducing New Yorkers to a rich community of savvy parents. New York is a diverse City bustling with all kinds of families and personalities. We also love to grab tips and recommendations from moms and dads in certain neighborhoods and throughout the 5 Boroughs, and especially people who have created a product, service or site that helps new parents or appeals to children. Meet Rita Kakati Shah Founder and CEO at UMA: a networking company dedicated to getting mothers back into their careers.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a born and bred Londoner, with heritage from Assam, northeast India. I studied Mathematics and Management at King’s College London, then went straight into banking, where I spent the next 10 years at Goldman Sachs before transitioning into the pharmaceutical industry. It wasn’t till I left banking that I met my husband, and five wedding celebrations later, moved to New York. We now have two children – our son is 4.5 and daughter 2.5 years old. I took almost 4 years off to raise them.
Where do you live?
Where all the strollers are, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan!
Why do you love where you live?
Love the Upper West Side, as it’s super family friendly. It’s also a welcome break after being in midtown during the day for work.
What do you do?
I started a company to empower women to return to the workforce after a career break. Having taken off nearly 4 years off to raise my two little ones, I couldn’t believe the challenges I faced when thinking of returning to the workforce. The motherhood penalty is very real. There was a fixation with the gap on my resume, and it was almost like everything I had done professionally in the past was irrelevant. There was an unspoken stigma that the gap meant I was a quitter, not ambitious and certainly not career driven any more. There was a problem, and I wanted to fix it. And that’s why I started Uma – in reaction to the tremendous gaps that existed when I was looking to re-enter work.
Tell us about UMA.
Uma is a platform to empower all women to take charge, be bold and true to themselves. In Sanskrit, the Hindu Goddess Uma is a daughter, a mother, a sibling and a wife, depicting all the different roles we as women fulfill. She represents strength, courage and confidence so was a meaningful avatar for the company.
Our platform brings talented women back to the workforce after a career break, through educational Uma Academy workshops, curated Umaship job placements and our confidence building networking events. Going from naught to sixty after a break is difficult for anyone, especially when there is no time to ease back in.
Our women – or Uma Fellows as we call them – would be guided through their emotional and wellness journey, receive career counseling as well as resume building and interviewing techniques as part of Uma Academy. They would then be ready to apply for an Umaship, which are hosted by our pool of supportive businesses that actively encourage women to advance in the workplace. Umaships are specific roles created ahead of the actual role, to help ease the transition back into the workforce. The networking events are a fun affair where women can mix with industry professionals and thought-leaders while building friendships with like-minded women looking to re-enter the workforce.
What’s different about UMA to say, Linked In or a Headhunter agency?
We have a very different offering that is resonating across companies large and small. Uma is a platform where our three pillars (namely Uma Academy, Umaships and Networking Events) have been especially developed to guide and empower our incredible pool of smart, talented women to return to the workforce. Rather than post a job opening with an expectation of a resume in return, we curate unique soft re-entry roles for the returnees, which they will be prepared for after attending our various Uma Academy workshops. We advocate for our Uma Fellows, and guide them throughout the process. Our approach is unique, fresh and so far, Uma Fellows and companies alike have really seen the potential. Our corporate partners love that both they and our Uma Fellows can get to “date” one another and our women love the fact that they can ease back into the workforce via a curated role that fits their new lifestyle.
300 Park Avenue, 12th Fl | New York, NY 10022