Rita Kakati-Shah (Mathematics & Management, 2001) is helping to get women back to work. Now based in New York, she set up Uma, an international platform dedicated to empowering women returning to work after a career break, transition or relocation. Rita is pioneering in business, an active commentator on diversity and inclusion, a Distinguished Alumni award winner and a regular King’s mentor.
Why do you mentor with King's?
I had informal mentors during my time at King’s, who were a combination of senior students, faculty and business school tutors. It was an invaluable experience, and I can’t think of a better way to help future students than impart tips and advice I’ve picked up along the way.
How have you benefited from your mentoring experience?
I’ve been a Leadership, Entrepreneurial Institute, Business School and Diversity Mentor at King’s for a few years now, and it’s been such a great experience both personally and professionally. It’s been a real privilege to mentor such smart, incredible, warm and passionate mentees over the years, such that we’ve remained in close touch after the official Mentorship has ended.
Why do you think mentoring is important?
The real world of jobs and careers can be a daunting place, and having someone who has been through it before, to guide and advise you on say career strategy, marketing your skills, interview dos and don’ts is not only helpful to the mentee, but so rewarding to the mentor too.
'Being a King’s mentor has been so rewarding. Not only is it a great way to give back, but it’s taken me back down memory lane a few times! I love imparting advice that I once wish I had when I was a student at King’s.'
What do you think are good qualities to have as a mentor?
Being a good listener is always helpful, as is being proactive and enthusiastic about your own career history.
Do you have any advice for aspiring mentors, or those who might have just started mentoring someone for the first time?
Before imparting advice, it’s helpful to get a clear understanding of your mentee’s goals and timelines. Also, setting up the frequency and duration of each session too, from day one helps you both out.
What would you say to recommend mentoring to other alumni?
Your experience and insight is more valuable than you might think. Mentoring is really so rewarding for both mentor and mentee. You won’t even realise how much until you’ve tried it. It can be a great way to reflect on your own experience and hone your leadership and management skills outside of your workplace. It can also expand your perspectives and expose you to new ways of thinking – all key to personal and professional growth. Plus you’ll also get a feeling of nostalgia and reminisce about your old stomping grounds once upon a time!
What (or who) has had the biggest influence on you to help you achieve your success?
I fondly remember my business school tutor, Jane Raybould. She wasn’t just a member of the King’s faculty or careers centre, but became a friend, who really took the time to understand what I was looking to achieve.
'The new King's Connect online platform makes mentoring easier than ever. You can now connect with the King's community anywhere in the world to find and share advice.'
How can King’s Connect help?
This new online platform makes mentoring easier than ever. You can now connect with the King’s community anywhere in the world to seek and give advice. If you sign up as a mentor, you have control over how you’re contacted, how much time you give and the type of help you can offer. It’s very easy to use and you can find people by industry, job function, subject studied, year of graduation as well as the type of help you’re willing to give or looking for. It’s a great complement to King’s face to face mentoring schemes, and an easy way to get started with mentoring, whether you sign up as a mentor, mentee or both.
For anyone considering mentoring I’d say you won’t realise how rewarding it can be until you try it.
Name: Rita Kakati-Shah
Degree: Mathematics & Management, 2001
Where is she now? Founder and CEO of Uma
Read more about Rita's career story
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