Keep Moving, Go Beyond, Be Limitless, Leave a Mark
By Pranay Shrivastava | Sun Aug 01 2021
“Niky, wake up… Niky, wake up… It’s time… Get ready for school… You are late”. Those words from my mother still echo in my mind, and it reminds me of all the hard work, dedication and perseverance put in by my parents to make me the person I am today. Growing up in a small town in India, my parents always exposed me to the best of things, whether it was education or extra-curricular activities. They even went beyond that to get me admitted to one of the best boarding schools in India. I suppose that’s where I started to understand what excellence means and to never be satisfied with mediocrity. Today, I realize that was the start of a strong foundation that was being laid to shape my overall personality.
From the beginning, my parents instilled various habits in me like, never restrict yourself, go the extra mile, strive for nothing but the best, be limitless and above all, always be a nice human being. During my boarding school days, I was exposed to various extra-curricular activities like sports (played state-level cricket, table tennis, badminton), music (learned to play multiple instruments and classical singing), which really helped me to understand the meaning of being a team player, paying attention to details and being a leader. As part of my educational journey, I pursued some of the best colleges in India, moving from one part of India to another. I went on to pursue my master’s from the UK (London), which reminds me to always dream big because dreams only come true for those who have the guts to dream them.
Once you finish college, life generally takes a turn and becomes a little more serious as you move towards the next phase in your life, the corporate world. It was a paradigm shift as I started my career in India after returning from London, and I entered an equity research role in Mumbai. When you start working professionally, that’s when you learn the distinction between responsibility and accountability, and that learning brought a lot of change in me. Over the course of five years, I moved into various diverse roles such as investment banking, equity research and private equity. I didn’t realize my first opportunity to move out of India for professional work was knocking on the door, and guess what, it was in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to be a part of the private equity team of a large investment firm. At first, I was skeptical about moving, as I was doing fine in India. However, the mindset to never stop learning and go beyond made me decide to move. I knew that the exposure would be fantastic and add a lot of value to my career, and that’s what exactly happened. I gained a lot of valuable experience meeting people from different cultures, learning about different ways of working and upscaling myself as an investment/private equity professional. That experience made me realize you always need to be open to opportunities that come your way, as you never know what transformation can come to your personal and professional journey. As they say, when the roller-coaster starts, just enjoy the ride and every moment of it. So, after that, my journey became exactly like that. Again, a fantastic opportunity came by. I moved to one of the Big 4s (Ernst & Young) in India. All the knowledge gained in Jeddah was the big reason for this shift and constant upscale in my professional life.
After 1.5 years at Ernest & Young, a turning point came in my career where I was offered a chance to move to Nairobi, Kenya, with one of the biggest confectionery manufacturers in the East African region. My previous experience had been on the consulting/ service side, and I always wanted to move to the operational side of things with a core manufacturing company. Once again, since it was in Africa, that dilemma of whether or not I should move started to haunt me, as I was doing well, and life was good. However, with the “be limitless” theme, I decided to grab this opportunity and relocate. My four years in Nairobi were beyond words, and I gained a lot of experience both professionally and personally. One evening, when I was reflecting on my decision to move, I was so satisfied and realized that being at the right place at the right time can do wonders for one’s life. I thought if I didn’t take this opportunity, someone else would have, and I might have regretted not doing so. The Nairobi experience changed my profile as a finance/investment professional and added a lot of color to my professional experience.
With the philosophy of keep moving, an opportunity from RENEW knocked at my door, offering a fantastic opportunity to move into impact investing by supporting portfolio investments and helping manage financial/business performance. The role was a significant step-up in my career, and the location was in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Until then, I loved it in Nairobi and had no intention of moving as things flowed smoothly. However, my instinct, which constantly pushed me to go beyond and be limitless, made me eventually decide to take up the offer.
I can confidently and happily say that I made the right move. I still remember my onboarding week, where I visited Addis for three days in February 2021, and my first day in the office was terrific. People at RENEW were so amazing, and right from day one, I felt at home. I interacted with my fellow new employees from different backgrounds and cultures, and I was amazed by the diversity that RENEW brought to the table. I finally joined RENEW in March 2021, and I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience over the last four months. RENEW has been one of the finest SME investing firms in Ethiopia, with a strong track record the previous nine years. The thing I love most about working at RENEW is I get to work on different engagements (investments, portfolio management, training etc.) alongside some of the best brains, thereby creating a significant impact on the SME landscape. I look forward to this journey with RENEW, and I hope to continue to add value.
Looking back at my journey from a small-town boy in India to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, via different countries on my way has been truly life-changing and fulfilling. As I mentioned earlier, my theme for life has motivated me all the way through, and I hope this momentum continues forever.
Renew Capital is an Africa-focused impact investment firm that backs innovative companies with high-growth potential. Renew Capital manages investments made on behalf of the Renew Capital Angels, a global network of angel investors, foundations and family offices who seek financial returns and sustainable social impact. For the latest on investing in Africa, subscribe and follow us at our social links below.