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Professional Volunteer Spotlight on Ajj Kothari

Thank You For Being Such A Vital Part Of Our Team, Ajj Kothari! We Look Forward To Sharing More About You So Others Can Get To Know You Better!

Tell us a bit about your backstory and what led you down your current life path.

I grew up in Mumbai, India, where my fascination with finance and financial markets began. I earned a Bachelor of Commerce in Financial Markets from the University of Mumbai with a 3.75 GPA, followed by a Master of Commerce in Advanced Accountancy with a 3.9 GPA. Alongside my studies, I gained practical experience through internships, including technical analysis and fundamental analysis of debt instruments at Morningstar. Currently, I am pursuing a Master of Finance at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, focusing on Asset Management. My journey reflects my passion for understanding financial markets deeply and making significant contributions to the field.

What or who inspired you to pursue your major/career?

My inspiration to pursue a career in finance came from observing the transformative impact that sound financial management can have on businesses and individuals. My early fascination with how financial markets operate was nurtured by my mentors and professors during my undergraduate studies. A significant influence was my experience at Morningstar, where I saw firsthand the importance of rigorous financial analysis and strategic decision-making. This experience solidified my ambition to become an expert in financial analysis and asset management, ultimately leading me to pursue advanced degrees and certifications, including my current candidacy for CFA Level 2.

What is one thing you are proud of achieving in your life?

One of my proudest achievements was my role in raising $150 million in convertible bond issuance during my project work with Neuberger Berman. Leading the financial analysis and market research for this project, I helped secure favorable terms and oversubscription, significantly boosting liquidity and investor confidence. This accomplishment demonstrated my ability to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world situations, resulting in impactful financial outcomes.

What keeps you motivated? What maintains your passion for and commitment to the work you are doing?

The tangible impact of my work in finance, whether it’s raising capital or optimizing portfolios. The dynamic nature of financial markets keeps me intellectually engaged, and my long-term goal of becoming a finance leader drives my commitment. Support from mentors and seeing positive outcomes further fuels my passion.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I am incredibly grateful to my mentor during my time at Morningstar, Mr. Mashreq Rebello. He was instrumental in shaping my analytical skills and understanding of debt capital markets. One particular instance that stands out was when we were analyzing the impact of macroeconomic factors on convertible bonds. Mr. Rebello took the time to explain complex concepts and encouraged me to think critically and independently. His guidance and support improved my technical skills and confidence, leading to success in subsequent roles and projects. His mentorship influenced my choice to pursue advanced studies in finance and continues to shape my career.

Share one professional development goal and one personal goal you have for the upcoming year.

One professional development goal I have for the upcoming year is to obtain my CFA Level 2 certification, which will enhance my knowledge and credentials in the finance field and open up new opportunities for career advancement.

On a personal level, I aim to prioritize work-life balance by dedicating more time to hobbies and activities outside of work, such as practicing mindfulness and spending quality time with loved ones. This will help me maintain overall well-being and fulfillment in both my personal and professional life.

Why did you choose to be a volunteer for Educate. Radiate. Elevate.?

I chose to volunteer for Educate. Radiate. Elevate. because I believe in the power of education to transform lives. Growing up in Mumbai, I saw firsthand the barriers many children face in accessing quality education. By volunteering, I wanted to contribute to breaking down these barriers and providing opportunities for students to excel academically and personally. The organization’s mission resonates with my values, and I am passionate about using my skills to support and empower the next generation.

What about the Educate. Radiate. Elevate.’s Purpose, Mission, and Core Values speaks most to you and why?

What speaks most to me about Educate. Radiate. Elevate.’s Purpose, Mission, and Core Values is their commitment to empowering underserved communities through education. Growing up in Mumbai, I saw how access to quality education can transform lives and open up opportunities. Their mission to bridge educational gaps and foster academic excellence aligns perfectly with my belief in the power of education to change lives.

Their core values of equity, empowerment, and excellence resonate deeply with me. The emphasis on equity ensures every child has a chance to succeed, empowerment focuses on building confidence and self-reliance, and excellence reflects a commitment to high standards. Volunteering with Educate. Radiate. Elevate. allows me to contribute to these goals and make a positive impact on the lives of students, which is incredibly meaningful to me.

What do you like to do in your free time?

In my free time, I enjoy a variety of activities that help me relax and recharge. I’m an avid reader, so I often dive into a good book to unwind and expand my knowledge on topics beyond finance. I also enjoy staying active through activities like hiking, yoga, and swimming, which help me stay physically and mentally fit. Additionally, I like to explore new cuisines by cooking or trying out new restaurants with friends and family. Finally, I find creative outlets like painting and photography to be therapeutic and enjoyable ways to express myself outside of the professional realm.

Tell about an amazing trip you took. Where did you go and what did you enjoy most?

One amazing trip I took was to Kyoto, Japan. I loved exploring ancient temples, indulging in delicious Japanese cuisine, and admiring the breathtaking cherry blossoms. The blend of rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning landscapes made it an unforgettable experience.

If you were granted three wishes, what woudl they be and why?

If granted three wishes, my first wish would be for good health and well-being for myself, my loved ones, and all those around me. Without health, other pursuits lose their significance, so ensuring everyone’s health would be paramount.

Secondly, I would wish for unlimited opportunities for personal and professional growth. This would include access to education, mentorship, and resources to continually learn and develop new skills, enabling me to make meaningful contributions to society.

Lastly, I would wish for a world filled with compassion, empathy, and understanding. This would foster harmony and cooperation among people of different backgrounds, leading to a more peaceful and inclusive society where everyone feels valued and respected.

Please share your favorite life lesson quote. How is it relevant to your life?

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill

This quote is relevant to my life because it serves as a reminder to persevere through both success and failure. It emphasizes the importance of resilience and determination in facing challenges and setbacks. In my journey, I’ve encountered obstacles and setbacks, but this quote inspires me to keep moving forward with courage and conviction, regardless of the outcome. It reminds me that success is not permanent, nor is failure, but the courage to persist and keep striving towards my goals is what truly matters in the end.

Thanks, Ajj! We Are So Lucky To Have You On The Team!

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