“I have financial freedom but I will always live within my means”

Sandeep Shetty, 47, is Managing Director of NorthLadder, an online marketplace for used electronics, and previously was Managing Director of Careem, the region’s leading mobility company.

Prior to that, he helped launch an Emirates NBD banking subsidiary and spent 10 years in leadership roles at GE Capital / Genpact and McKinsey & Company in India, US and Middle East.

Born in India, Mr. Shetty has been in the United Arab Emirates for 13 years and lives with his wife and children, aged 16 and 12, in The Meadows, Dubai.

Was there any wealth in your education?

I grew up in Mumbai and had a safe and happy childhood. We had a modest way of life, but never felt it as we lived among people who also led simple lives. Going to a restaurant was a novelty.

I only realized once I started college, interacting with people from different socio-economic backgrounds, that I didn’t come from a wealthy background. I didn’t have any pocket money. I had to ask my parents for every penny I spent.

My mother was a housewife and my father worked for the Tata group. I had the opportunity to interact with his peers and his elders in the workplace and it had a great influence. I was serious about my goals at a very young age.

Did this lead to a good salary?

Education was a passport to secure employment. You have either become an engineer or a doctor. I was good academically and studied engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology and have an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management.

My first job at HSBC as a head of strategy paid 30,000 rupees (1,482 Dh) per month in 1999, a very posh salary 22 years ago, with accommodation in South Bombay, car allowance , liberal personal loans with low interest rates and a purchasing allowance. a computer. I felt like I had won the lottery. Due to this education, having had such a start at the start of my career, I skipped a few levels.

Have you stayed anchored?

The leap has been astronomical, from depending on parents in college to earn a fancy salary. I never had to struggle financially once I started working.

I appreciated the advice I received from my parents. I saw how well they lived within their means. If they made 100 rupees, they would spend 50. I kept that philosophy no matter how much I earned. Between the ages of 24 and 30, I tended to splurge, but I never overdo it. I have always been measured.

My lifestyle matches what my income was maybe eight to ten years ago

Sandeep Shetty, Co-Founder and Managing Director, NorthLadder

Why join a start-up?

Much of the success in life is attributed to timing, which you may or may not control. My timing was good.

I joined Careem in 2017. Two years later we sold to Uber (for $ 3.1 billion), so [it was] a great result. I had a lot of stock options and cashed in 2020 at the end of the trade. Many of us joined together to build Careem, so it was only natural to embark on our next adventure.

I was in discussion with large companies in the region and elsewhere, but I stumbled upon this early start-up. I negotiated to join NorthLadder as Managing Director and Co-Founder and grow the business.

It’s not just for the money, it’s also for the excitement of building something innovative that can become a global business.

Did the release of Careem make you rich?

Leaving Careem gave me the financial freedom not to depend on a stable income and to take more risks in my career. At first I thought about taking a break and traveling. Of course, Covid-19 hit and I had to put my plans on hold. I realized in two months [that] it is impossible for me to do nothing.

Financial freedom has allowed me to choose what I want to do in the future. When I joined Careem there was so much going on in the tech world [that] I wanted to be part of it; joining was more a decision of excitement and bottom line. My motivation after Careem was very different.

Have your consumption habits changed?

I am extremely careful with our expenses, managing expenses with a lower salary. My lifestyle is what my income was maybe eight to ten years ago.

The only big expense was the house we bought which also turned out to be a good investment.

We live well within our means, so we don’t have to worry about dipping into our savings.

How to make your fortune grow?

I invest in a number of start-ups and the stock markets in the US and India. I have professionals who manage the funds.

I have a mix of real estate, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and more sophisticated structured products. I have three properties in India, one in Dubai, but I am gradually withdrawing from real estate because it is not a very liquid asset.

I have set aside money for my children’s education and for retirement. Everything else… I like to be more aggressive in my approach. I believe that we are only at the beginning of a massive global technological disruption and that there will be a lot of valuable companies. I understand the space and I have the advantage of being well networked.

Could NorthLadder also get huge?

There is a lot of tailwind for this business on a global scale. People have devices in their homes which, if nothing is done with them, ends up in the landfill. People are aware of environmental sustainability, of the circular economy. We encourage that. We want to make selling devices super easy, convenient and value added.

Do you have a darling purchase?

The house where we live. I have never lived in a house that I have invested in, but I think it is mine and I take care of it. I have a feeling of belonging. It is by far the most expensive and expensive material possession. Other than that, I donate to charity in my home. It gives a different kind of joy and I would like to do more in the future.

Key financial milestones?

The risks I took in my career. The best was the McKinsey decision. I was in the United States, 31 years old, already vice president with a good salary, my daughter was about to be born; I took a tough call to leave a safe life and start from scratch in Dubai.

I’ve done this a few times… took 20-30 percent pay cuts and started on a different path. I left McKinsey to start a business for Emirates NBD.

When I joined Careem, I suffered a pay cut. I convinced my wife because of the stock options. After it paid off, my risk appetite increased.

Does money make you happy?

I acquired this new wealth 18 months ago and my lifestyle hasn’t changed much since. I don’t want a better car or a better house.

Money gave a lot of happiness, not because of the material things I could buy, but because it gave financial freedom. It is the most beautiful gift.

I have always dreamed of a sabbatical year, to take a motorbike and go up the Himalayas. It was a pipe dream, but one day I hope to do it without worrying.

Is Sharing Tax Wisdom With Children Important?

Having grown up in a city like Dubai, the children are spoiled, they see a very artificial environment. We don’t want them to grow up feeling like life is easy. They will have difficulty at some point and need to be mentally prepared.

If we are shopping, we ask them to search for deals online. We don’t go to fancy restaurants, but we would see if we can get discounts on The artist.

It doesn’t matter how much I save, it’s important to send a message to the kids: be aware of the money you spend. It’s an attitude.

Financial regrets?

I didn’t need to save so much early in my career. I could have spent more wisely on things that matter emotionally, because some of those moments won’t come back.

I have always been so conservative that I wish I had spent more on, say, my parents.

What are you most happy to pay for?

A good meal in a restaurant is my idea of ​​fun, especially with family and friends. We haven’t traveled for 18 months, but we would have two vacations per year. We are not exaggerating and trying to be too conservative. I wouldn’t travel business class – it’s an unnecessary expense – but I would stay in a good hotel.

What are your future goals?

If I had to hit a financial number… I already did. I will continue to work, only the subjects I choose can be different, entrepreneurial stuff.

I want to spend part of my life doing non-profit work, something important in education in India. I don’t think I will retire in the conventional sense.

Update: December 31, 2021, 9:32 a.m.


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