Interview with Society of Grownups' Nondini Naqui
Nondini is a powerhouse. We first heard about her and Society of Grownups through a friend here at Femme & Fortune. After a little research (okay cyberstalking), we couldn't help but admire the cute branding, awesome messaging for femmes like us, and Nondini's role as Director at Society of Grownups. We had to know more about the business and the boss lady herself. Nondini fills us in about her career path, her day-to-day at Society of Grownups, and why it's okay to take risks. Keep reading to learn more!
Femme & Fortune: Give us a little background about yourself! I’m 34 years old and I’m the Director of Society of Grownups. I grew up in Falmouth, Maine and moved to Boston to attend Wellesley College. After doing a stint down south for business school and living in Philadelphia for a few years, I’m so excited to be back in Boston. I currently live in Brookline, MA with my husband.
Femme & Fortune: Tell us about your role with Society of Grownups. How did you get started with this company, and what’s the goal or mission of Society of Grownups?
As the Director of Society of Grownups, I help define and develop our overall business strategy and vision. I also have a hand in the day-to-day activities in our space in Brookline, MA. We’re a startup, so we all wear a lot of hats and pitch in as needed … no two days are ever the same.
I first heard about Society of Grownups from a friend (via text message.) He thought I’d be interested in the opportunity and that I would be a good fit given my background in financial services and my non-profit experience. He was right. After I met with MassMutual and IDEO to learn more about the opportunity and how they were tackling the issue of financial literacy in an entirely bold, new way, I was sold.
The mission of Society of Grownups is to provide a place -- both physical and digital -- for adults to access advice and improve their financial literacy. We blend the practical and fun parts of being an adult and are building a community for this next generation of grownups to ask questions, receive balanced information, and feel empowered to live the life they want now while still saving for the future.
Femme & Fortune: I read that you were involved with a non-profit for women in Ethiopia, among other past career choices. Take us through them. My path to Society of Grownups has been far from linear. After I graduated Wellesley, I accepted an offer to go into a management and development program for a bank in upstate New York. I figured I’d be in that role for about a year, but one year turned into five. During that time, I worked at the branch level and then helped lead the bank’s online efforts (you have to remember the Internet was still shiny and new then.)
After five years, I took a step back and asked myself, “If I had a whole year to do whatever I wanted, what would that be?” I enjoyed working in financial services, but have always been passionate about people and different cultures. As a lifelong volunteer, I decided I wanted to explore opportunities within the non-profit space and began volunteering full-time for a self-sustaining non-profit organization called TROSA. During my time at TROSA, I also had the opportunity to travel to Ethiopia with a small group and started a project with HIV-positive women.
My experience at TROSA and the time I spent in Ethiopia helped reaffirm my desire to have some element of advocacy in whatever career path I took, so I enrolled in business school to gain more exposure to marketing strategies and to have a solid foundation. This way, I could blend my passion for helping with empowering others. Following business school, I had the opportunity to put my education and experience to work in the “real world” at ING DIRECT (now Capital One 360), and now more than ever, at Society of Grownups.
Femme & Fortune: What’s your typical schedule like? Take us through your day-to-day! If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that each day is different and is going to present new opportunities and challenges. My daily schedule varies, but can include anything from touring office spaces for the growing team to developing the strategy and expansion of Society of Grownups. Mostly, I spend a lot of time listening to feedback from our grownups and the team to think of ways that we can improve our offerings. We’re an extremely collaborative team, so there’s a lot of brainstorming and iteration every day.
Femme & Fortune: Let’s talk money. We love the resource library on SOG, but what’s the best financial tip for men and women? I’m not a financial planner, but I am so grateful my parents had me start thinking about my 401(k) before I landed my first job. Finding out if an employer has a 401(k) match and starting to contribute early is one of the best pieces of advice I’ve received.
Femme & Fortune: What inspires or motivates you? I’ve been an avid volunteer my entire life, and giving back is a huge motivator for me. I love how advocacy is a key part of my role and focus at Society of Grownups. I also love Star Trek, so there’s that too.
Femme & Fortune: What’s a book that you’re currently reading? I just finished Confidence Code and could not put it down. I’d heard about it and what the authors were doing for the project previously, and I was intrigued. I felt like the book spoke to me; it had the scientific piece to it, it had great conversations with female leaders, and it incorporated feedback from young college students.
Femme & Fortune: What advice do you have for other women who want to work in a startup or create their own business? The biggest thing I’ve learned on my winding career path is that it’s okay to take risks. I transitioned from banking to non-profit work at 27 years old, and at that time, I didn’t think I’d ever get back on a traditional career path. What my experience has shown me is you can absolutely follow your passions, and doing so doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re closing yourself off from certain opportunities later in life. It was validating and exciting to learn I had a lot more room to try new things and make mistakes than I previously thought.
Femme & Fortune: Do you have any regrets with your career? Looking back, I think I didn't trust my gut enough early in my career; I stayed longer than I should have in a role even though I knew it was time to try something new.
Femme & Fortune: What’s next for you, either personally or professionally? What are some of your long-term goals? I’m looking forward to the future professionally as we’re planning to expand our digital presence and provide additional resources for grownups. We want to someday be a national resource and we're at the beginning of something new and important. We’re looking forward to seeing it evolve over the next few years.
Femme & Fortune: Is there anything else you’d like to add that we may have missed?
One of the biggest things that still surprises me about being a grownup is I always thought I’d have a lot more figured out by now. I thought that at 20, then 25, then 30, and now I’m 34 … There’s a lot of gray area when it comes to being an adult and making “grownup decisions,” and I’ve learned that not having it all figured out is actually okay.
Photo Credits: Society of Grownups