The following article was written by Pacific Business Trust following an interview between Shaileshni, owner of AdvisoryPlus, and PBT.
Introducing: Shaileshni Chand
Following my last blog/call for more Pasifika Women in Business experiences, I am excited to feature this month’s June story. The beautiful Shaileshni Chand, of Fijian Indian descent is the Founder/Director of Ganesha Consultancy, Business Advisory Services and Chartered Accountant. Ganesha Consultancy provides business advisory, outsourced/virtual finance function, and analytical services across SMEs, Public Sector and Corporates.
Shaileshni eloquently shares “Choosing to be a female entrepreneur is a very bold decision. Coming from a Indian/Pacific background certainly adds another level of complexity. A change in mindset is required and it is all about working outside of your comfort zone.”
Tell me a little bit about yourself?
I am a 3rd generation Fijian Indian. My great grandfather came from India under the indentured labour system between 1879 and 1916. I grew up in an extended family, with my three siblings in Saru, Lautoka, the Western division of Fiji. My grandparents owned a 10 acre farmland which was primarily used to grow sugarcane. Growing up, I remember the farm being our playground. Apart from the farm, we also had a taxi business, hence, I learnt to count money from a very early age!
I went to a local school, Saru MGM Primary school. My dad’s main focus for us was education. My uncle was a lecturer at the University of the South Pacific and my aunty was a secondary school teacher (now also a lecturer). Naturally there was a big push for education in the family.
I went onto to Natabua High School, which had top national ratings. The choice of subjects back then were very much limited to Commerce/Science or Law. Coming from an entrepreneurial family, I made the obvious choice of studying Commerce. I then enrolled at the University of the South Pacific to start my Bachelor of Commerce Degree.
I came to NZ in 2001 to continue studying Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Auckland. I have since completed a Graduate Diploma and Management, and am a Chartered Accountant.
My husband who is also Fiji Indian, studied in NZ and is an Electrical Engineer by profession. Together, we have two beautiful children. My daughter is 11 and my son is 9 years old.
I love watching Bollywood movies. Given the weekday rush, both of us love spending time with our kids. I enjoy reading business journals and magazines. My husband might also add shopping as one of my hobbies!
What does a typical day look like in your role and any career highlights?
Before, starting my own CA practice, I was in full time employment for over 10 years across private and public sectors. This gave me a good sense of where my strengths were and what areas of finance I wanted to specialise in.
I am now a director/consultant at my business advisory firm, which means that I wear many hats at any point. A lot of planning goes into how I will divide my time across clients to provide a quality service and meet timelines.
The other roles I would typically perform include marketing and branding for my business, business growth, manage a team, upskilling etc.
As a Pasifika woman in business, what are some of the challenges you’ve had to overcome to get where you are now?
Choosing to be a female entrepreneur is a very bold decision. Coming from a Indian/Pacific background certainly adds another level of complexity. A change in mindset is required and it is all about working outside of your comfort zone. You have to change the way you approach things. It is a bit like you can’t do the same things you have always done and expect a different result.
(Shaileshni presenting at a Keynote Presentation)
In what ways does your Pacific heritage influence you in your role, your career and business?
Putting clients’ needs first for advisory services is always a priority for my business. Coming from a Pacific heritage, there are a natural inclination to put people first. I am always determined to succeed and make it work. It is like I have these goal posts and I want to keep achieving them.
(Shaileshni presenting at TNG Group)
If there was one quality our Pasifika people possess that is under-utilized in the business world, what would it be and how can they capitalize on it?
I believe that the Pasifika people have untapped LEADERSHIP qualities. Coming from humble beginnings, they have an authentic style. Good communication skills, cultural awareness, and putting people first, are some of the characteristics of a great leader. I would encourage all Pasifika people in business to be more confident and see the leader in them.
Top 5 tips you would you like to share to our Pasifika people who are considering starting their own business
- Know your “WHY”.
- Have your support people around you. You will need someone to share your highs and lows and give you the confidence and reassurance that you are on the right track.
- Define your niche.
- Don’t be shy to wear a “L Plate” and ask for help. You don’t know everything. You might be an expert in your field, however, turning this into a business is a different game. Know your numbers. Ask for help.
- Fill your Karma bank. Give back to the community.
(Shaileshni with her two children)
You can view the original post of this article on the PBT website here.