My life so far has been a cross-cultural tapestry, woven with threads of contrasting traditions, religions, languages and cultures. Though of North-Indian heritage, I was born and raised in Kolkata in the East of India, where my grandparents settled following the violent Partition from Pakistan (1947). A Hindu Brahmin, I was educated by Irish nuns in Loreto House. Fluent in 4 languages, I am as comfortable singing the Ave Maria, as classical Indian music. Despite a sheltered upbringing, I was the first female in my family to study an MBA and seek a professional career.
My marriage to Steven (of Portuguese heritage from the West of India) was celebrated in both Hindu and Catholic traditions. We migrated with our son Vivek, to Melbourne 20 years ago, when Grindlays bank where I worked, merged with ANZ (Bank). Our son Rohan is a true-blue Aussie, a footy-mad contrast to his cricket-loving older brother. They regularly accompany different sets of grandparents to the Hindu temple in Carrum Downs, and St Peter’s Parish in Bentleigh.
I have always balanced my day-job as a banker with a strong commitment to the community, championing various diversity initiatives within ANZ and outside. From teaching street-kids with Mother Teresa’s sisters of charity in Kolkata, to promoting financial education for marginalised communities, I’m a passionate advocate for empowering women through education.
Graduating from the Williamson Community Leadership program (Leadership Victoria), I came across an advertisement seeking Directors for the Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand Board. I already knew that Good Shepherd offered No Interest Loans (NILs) in partnership with NAB (National Australia Bank), but on further research, discovered the many other programs and services the network offered for women, girls and their families. I put my hat in the ring and was lucky enough to be selected alongside two other superb candidates. Since then I took on a position on the Good Shepherd Microfinance Board, and Committee responsibilities in both organisations.
Around the same time, I decided to take a break from my corporate career, and undertake a PhD exploring financial capability in Indigenous Australia. As a banker, I had always been intrigued by how culturally distinctive groups such as Indigenous people living in remote communities, feel about and want to use, money. Economics and banking policy views money from primarily a ‘Western’ lens, which tends to ignore the influence of social norms and cultural values on money. I hope my studies can contribute to more ‘culturally appropriate’ ways of engaging diverse cultures in the world of modern-day finances, thereby promoting greater social and financial inclusion, a theme which is interwoven into the everyday work of the Good Shepherd agencies.
Subsequently I resigned from those Good Shepherd governance responsibilities to take on a role with Good Shepherd Microfinance.
I love working with the Good Shepherd network – it’s almost like being with family and the welcoming environment reminds me of growing up in Kolkata with the Loreto nuns. Every day I come across highly skilled and capable ‘Good Shepherd’ people who truly embody the spirit of Mary Euphrasia, irrespective of age, race, background or colour.
Comprehensive overview from the GSAPP team - how Good Shepherd Partnership for Mission is developing in this region
Reconciliation holds special meaning in the Australian nation - it describes the long journey towards full acknowledgment of the rights of the Indigenous Peoples
Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand: providing governance and enabling the sustainability and development of Good Shepherd ministries into the future