Seven Hats consulting: reshaping your educational and career needs
German philosopher Karl Marx in his work The German Ideology discussed the monotonicity of work-that what if society enables a man to be one thing today and another thing tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner. Now with a large scale technological disruption and creation of wealth through the financial sector-this is no longer a philosophical disposition, but a socio-economic reality.
Neha, the sole proprietor of the firm, established Seven Hats in 2012 to cater to such inflexion points in a person’s life. Seven Hats special expertise is a mentoring platform and extremely-targeted professional coaching to help students and professionals transition thoughtfully to the next stage of their goals and aspirations. Education is not meant to be dry and boring. A career path is not supposed to be one that you don’t enjoy. What do you really want to do? What is your vision, really? How will you generate impact, mindfully? The path may not be easy. But the challenge of breaking through the traditional six hats of thinking, arriving at your true aspirations and carving a path that you are excited to walk and walk successfully, is one that firm hopes to undertake with its clients. This hidden Hat below the Six Hats of Thinking is what the firm refers to this as the 7th Hat.
Our Editorial team spoke to Ms. Neha about the issues pertaining to the seven hats and here are edited excerpts
Tell us a bit about the irm including its services. How and why did you decide to create it?
We are basically an education consulting firm and have been in this business for about seven years. We do not believe in the cookie current methods provided by others in the industry. Our main idea is to concentrate on individuals who after completing and spending a few years in their professional pursuit want a shift in their career choices, educational pathways and their entrepreneurial ambitions. We help people understand their true potential and how their work, their ideas and their education can truly impact the world in a substantial way. We truly believe ‘Everyone has a Story.’ And helping people realize this story and empowering them to be able to tell it to the world is what drives, motivates and inspires us. The best schools look for authenticity and our candidates are very authentic and articulate. Success for us not only sending our candidate to the best business schools. We measure our success by looking at the candidate’s long-term progress. People are under too much pressure to succeed. We wanted to remove that. And make finding success a wonderful and exciting process.
What makes you different and stand apart from others?
We are very different. The word mentorship is often used frequently by other consulting firms, but for us, it is at the heart of what we do. Everything is looked into personally by me, and the whole process is specially designed by me. I would say that I am very much at the heart of the company. We work with our candidates for nearly a span of a year and in the end, they say that this process has changed them to take on the next stage of their life. This isn’t a business. It’s my passion, my purpose and my whole life.
What is your target audience?
So, the bulk of our target audience is management students. 90 % of our pool essentially consists of students from premier educational institutions who have pursued several years of work experience at the top-most organizations and businesses in the world. We’ve got a lot of clients in the Mideast, London, Singapore, and Hong Kong from the financial services, consulting, and tech world. Regarding, undergraduates- we work with a very limited set of five or six undergrads a year. We want undergrads who are very self-sufficient, passionate, have a great educational background and are project driven in terms of what they want to accomplish. We work with a handful, and we will make sure that if you’ve got that raw potential, we can really take that and do great things for you. But we are not a mass factory, where you will be spoon-fed through layers of hired consultants. You will be thrown challenges by those at the core of the program. And you will have to run very fast to keep pace.
What are the challenges have you faced?
I was very young when I graduated from Columbia Business School, and then joined the private equity sector. I think I’m very entrepreneurial in spirit and adjusted very seamlessly into the freedom and entrepreneurial culture of PE. I started Seven Hats when I was quite young too. So it took me some time to put process, technology and metrics into place in what was originally an entirely spirit and passion-based company. Every year is a challenge. Every two years the world and the generations of students you work with changes. So a big challenge for me, is to remain a learner and a student myself. If I keep listening, and asking good questions and reading and growing. Then my business will continue to excel. The minute I sit back and say, ‘that’s it, I know it all’, I will commoditize my uniqueness.
We have to strike a balance between maintaining quality and growing. I have always looked at the operational procedure of education consulting firms which maintain a client base in the hundreds and have always questioned the quality offered. There is simply no way to templatize this model. And there is an optimal level of intellectual capital that any organization in this field can truly harness with great results. So, the way I look at myself, I’m the caretaker for many people, who are dependent on us for their future. So we definitely want to grow, but we have to be very careful in ensuring the quality offered remains A+. No compromise on quality.
How do you learn in life?
I am thirty-three years old. I love learning, I learn from people all around me. My mentors are my biggest teachers. I travel a lot and try to learn about the visiting local country’s economy, culture etc. In my opinion, one must gain whatever knowledge and experience one can get through traveling. We actually try and pass that on to our children as well. Whenever we travel to different countries, we make sure that they speak with other people and develop an openness to the world. The minute you think the four walls around you represent the entire story of the world, you are writing the script for your own failure. I tell all my clients, that feedback is important because nobody has time to give you feedback. If someone is taking the time to do so, embrace it. Learn from it.
How do you motivate your growing team as an entrepreneur?
I am a natural motivator, and I was very fortunate to have managers and mentors who gave me an entrepreneurial bandwidth since the very start of my career at Bear Stearns. Ever since the start of my professional career, I’ve been working on very complex deals and cases with a decentralized approach.. We give full freedom to those around us- as long as our basic values are kept at heart like never compromise on honesty, authenticity, and passion or whatever comes within that gamut. I think of myself as a football coach, every year I get my new team in form of clients from different personality or different story, a different background, and some of them come from cities that I’ve never even heard of. And it’s my job to make this team the All-Star Team.
Tell us about your failures
I was very excited about working in New York in Investment banking. One day when I was standing in Grand Central station in New York, and I saw this newsflash of a major market collapse, in which my employer, Bear Stearn’s shares were tanking and tanking and tanking. It was devastating news that your first employer was on the brink of collapse. Surreal almost, as we started packing boxes and boxes to bring home from work, not knowing what the future of the company would be. After a while, I started giving interviews again and started looking for jobs. And I found an even more interesting job at the World Bank in Washington DC. While the collapse of Bear Stearns, wasnt a failure, it was a massive setback very early on in my career. And I learned, when life throws you a challenge, go home, go back to the drawing board. And start solving once again.
So what was the most difficult lesson learned as an entrepreneur?
I believe nothing is permanent. You’re as good as your last game. If you take anything for granted for any part of your work, you are bound to fail. Everything needs constant work, utmost perfection, your care, your love, and if you decide to orphan any part of your work or any part of your business, any client or any organization, it will show like a bad patch on a beautiful garment. There are no free lunches in entrepreneurship.
Piece of advice for young entrepreneurs
I think the young entrepreneurs are too much focused on growth rather on the quality. For any plan to last long run one has to patiently and meticulously build the company, its core values, and a great dedicated team. That is more important, for me, than growth for the sake of growth.