This week’s I am Ria feature is analytics extraordinaire Manvendra Singh, whose infectious smile makes Ria a great place to work!
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Mussoorie, in northern India.
Is that close to the Himalayas?
Yeah, it’s very mountainous and there are jungles. It’s very beautiful. You can see Everest from there. Fun fact, the explorer George Everest who “discovered” Everest did so from Mussoorie and his observatory is still there.
At what age did you move to the US?
I moved here with my family when I was 16. We moved to Boulder, Colorado because my parents wanted us the opportunity to study in an American university. They uprooted their whole lives so we could get a better education.
What was the biggest culture shock?
It surprised me how much family was a lower priority here. I came from a place where family is extremely important. Several generations live together under the same roof. You honor and respect your elders. Here, people send their grandparents away to retirement communities. That surprised me.
What do you think is one of the biggest misconceptions Americans have about India?
India is a big country. We have a lot of different ethnic groups and while they might speak over 600 different dialects, we have a common mother language. We can also always converse in English. Americans look at India and only see the slums. They forget to look at the collective history and culture that dates back many millennia.
What else? Is there an interesting fact about India you’d like to share?
Yeah, tons! For one, India is the world’s largest democracy. The people differ from north to south and east to west so starkly that you would think you are in different countries. The food, the languages, the history and the culture all vary, but the shared experiences make it a united country.
What’s your favorite time of year to travel back to India?
I would have to say going south during the winter is my favorite. Specifically, Bombay. The Monsoons are an incredible natural phenomenon that everyone should experience at least once in their lives. The smell of rain on the dirt and the fat drops of warm water are almost a religious experience.
So, you work on the analytics side at Ria. What got you into working with numbers?
I’ve always been good with numbers and drawing correlations. I really enjoy finding patterns between certain data points and drawing conclusions based on that. There is more to what I do than reporting charts and numbers. Telling a story behind the numbers is an aspect of the job that I really enjoy doing.
What’s the most rewarding part about working at Ria?
I think Ria really does care about helping people get their money sent back home. It’s reflected in our rates, especially for countries that are often very expensive to send to. It matters more for us to help people than turn a profit.
What do you think your 16-year-old self would say if he saw you working at Ria today?
He’d say, “whoa, you work an office job?!” He might be sad I didn’t turn out to be a deep-sea explorer, as was the plan. But seriously, I think he’d be proud of me for working at a company that is socially responsible.
Before you worked at Ria, what would you look for in a money transfer service when you needed to send money?
Being socially conscious is a very big deal. Obviously, it helps if the price is right, but one thing I always looked for is whether or not a company was ethical.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
The Maldives in the Indian Ocean. There are over 1,000 islands and the scuba diving is amazing.