Born in the mountainous Doda district, Nida Haji, 36, is emerging as a distinct professional in the USA’s mortgage banking. Termed as one of the ‘2017 women of Influence’ in reportage about the special banking vertical’s IT linkages, Nida’s company, Tavant Technologies, has doubled its revenue in the last two years, with plans to add 300 employees across the US. Haji led the design and development of voice interaction for Tavant’s VELOX product suite, which is possibly the first in the industry. The unique Alexa voice-based app was selected for presentation at Mortgage Banker Association Conferences as well as FinovateSpring 2017. Besides, Nida is a founding member of Tavant Mortgage University, a learning and development initiative based on MBA’s School of Mortgage Banking, to certify engineers and product teams on the mortgage. Her leadership helped Tavant build a team of over 1,000 trained mortgage experts. In New York, she established Tavant’s Business Analyst Center of Excellence and currently heads a team of business analysts working with top lenders. This work has led her to mentor, new business analysts. In an emailed interview Haji shared her experiences with Saima Bhat
KASHMIR LIFE (KL): Who is Nida Haji?
Nida Haji (NH): My parents live in Jammu and Kashmir and run the Haji Trust and Haji Public School in Breswana, in the Doda district. My dad is originally from Doda, my mother is from Kishtwar. But I am married in Baramulla, near Srinagar. I have two children, Zizou and Inara, who are 7 and 5 years old (both US-born).
I was born in Kishtwar. But my dad moved to UAE in the early 1980s, so I have grown up in Dubai. I completed my 12th-standard education in Dubai. But then I moved to Bangalore to complete my college education, where I did my Bachelor of Business Administration (from Bangalore University). Then I did my postgraduate diploma in Business Administration from Symbiosis Centre, Pune, India.
After college, I stayed back and started my career in Bangalore, in financial services, specifically Mortgage Banking.
I am a sports fanatic and adventure sports lover. I am very talkative, sociable and outgoing and basically a people person. I endeavour to get along and understand others around me and feel the world needs kindness and understanding. I am also very blunt, bold and direct and find that this helps cut out a lot of misunderstandings and confusions.
KL: When and how did you shift to the US?
NH: I had been travelling to the USA for a few months every year since I started working with my company, Tavant Technologies, in 2005. I used to visit different client projects in the USA for short periods of time. But, in 2009, after my marriage, we decided to move to the USA long-term and I accepted a project in Cincinnati, Ohio. Since then, we have lived in a few different places in the USA, depending on where my projects were – San Francisco, Connecticut, and New York.
KL: Where are you working presently and tell us more about your work?
NH: I am the Director of Consumer Lending and Head of the Business Analysis Centre of Excellence in Tavant Technologies. I have been working with Tavant Technologies since 2005. I oversee critical large Consumer Lending Projects on the East Coast and also work to expand Tavant’s footprint in the Consumer Lending Products and Services space.
KL: You are being termed as the ‘most influential women’ of 2017. How is this feeling? Tell us about your journey and how difficult it was to reach this level?
NH: Honestly, I think people use terms like “struggle” and “difficult journey” too easily. Depending on your outlook on life, even making a cup of tea is a struggle for some people, and sometimes scaling the tallest mountains is not a struggle at all. It depends on you, your confidence and your resilience. I don’t think about being a woman in a male-dominated IT world. I believe, if you are good, you will always be appreciated, as long as you are confident and bold.
I won’t call my journey difficult. I am a dedicated worker and did my best. I accepted tough challenges at work, kept learning willingly, took on different types of projects and powered on. I added certifications under my belt, in the Mortgage Banking space, which benefitted my line of work. My company is wonderful and has provided me with all kinds of opportunities. They appreciate all my efforts and together we have grown and flourished.
KL: Mostly women are seen well at spending but in understanding finances least. Under what circumstances did you decide to specialise in this stream?
NH: I work with Tavant Technologies, which is an IT solutions and services provider recognised globally for its innovative solutions. We have been able to provide game-changing results for our customers by combining our industry experience with cutting-edge technologies. We specialise in providing solutions to mortgage banking and lending organisations, as well as all forms of Consumer Lending like Auto Loans, Credit Card lending, Under banking etc.
Yes, it is not a commonly chosen line of work; perhaps that is why it appealed to me. I remember, I was the first person in my family to choose Commerce, even though I had good grades and according to family members, should have pursued Science. But, my parents were supportive, and I took Commerce subjects and pursued a career in Financial Services.
I found that I took a shining to the facets of mortgage banking and lending, and understood the domain and its mechanisms quite well. I am also an extrovert and was able to talk to and discuss client problems and solutions quite well. I didn’t fear asking a lot of questions and wasn’t afraid of putting my thoughts forward, even if it meant disagreeing with clients. A lot of my work is about bridging gaps between the Lending World (clients, business experts) and the Technology World (developers, technical experts) and creating solutions that are revolutionary in the industry.
KL: How do you see the success of your company since you joined it and tell us more about your company?
NH: I currently work with Tavant Technologies in New York with a client in the Hedge Funds space. Very interesting!
Tavant is a Silicon Valley-based technology innovator, offering unquestioned value and extraordinary service to clients to achieve mutual success and growth. Tavant has been growing at three times the industry’s average and we have expanded outside North America to Australia, Asia Pacific and South America. We are now at over 2500+ employees globally. We are using Artificial Intelligence and Digital Technologies to partner with our clients to transform their businesses.
Tavant Technologies has been a fantastic partner in my life and I am honoured and blessed to be part of the Tavant family.
KL: You are settled in the US, do you visit Kashmir and how frequently?
NH: Yes, definitely. It is very important for us, that the children understand where we come from, and what are our roots. Their favourite time of the year is the summer holidays in Kashmir, meeting families, playing with cousins, and eating unbelievably great food all the time! We look forward to our annual visits with relish and gusto!
KL: Are there any more Kashmiris who are working in your company?
NH: Yes, a few. I’m not very certain how many, I haven’t asked.