Kanan Shah : Women of many hats
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A page dedicated to ordinary people of our community… yes ordinary, but with that Xtra ordinary talent, achievement and that inspiring Xfactor!!
As a woman, do you wear a lot of hats? Sometimes these hats are stacked so high that trying to balance them all on our competent-but-anxious-and-exhausted heads sends us toppling over completely!
Let’s meet Kanan Shah, from Coppell TX, who dons many hats and yet maintains such an amiable disposition. She is a teacher and runs her own customized tutoring academy called Ottimmo, is a true Mumbaikar at heart who loves to host great parties, make new friends, always ready to help others. ….and if that is not all she is a passionate cook and also runs a catering business!!
She spent her formative years in a joint family in Mumbai which inculcated the habit of sharing and caring right from childhood. It made her understand that living with aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents did not restrict her education to academics and school only but it had a much wider horizon. She considers these years as her best as they were full of growing up fun with friends, most of whom she has still maintained contacts with, inspite of the distances.
She had her stint with Corporate America and worked with Deutsche Bank and Chase in New Jersey and then moved to Dallas in 2003, due to her job at Lockheed Martin. When her son, Kavi Shah started high school in Coppell, he expressed his desire to join KD classes for SAT preparation. Since Kanan had earlier worked in Kumon and had evaluated the different coaching classes, she decided to hire private tutors under her own company and have her son tutored at home. Thus was born Ottimmo, meaning “Excellence” in Italian, reinstating the proverb that Necessity is the Mother of Invention!!
Kavi Shah scored a perfect 2400 on his SAT, completed his graduation with 3 majors and 2 degrees from UT Austin and is currently working with McKinsey, the #1 consulting company in the world with global acceptance rate of 1%-lower than admission rate of Harvard!!
Kanan did not want Ottimmo to be a run-of-the mill academy. She focuses on strategy based learning, has been an advocate for her students, and customizes tutoring as per their needs. She not only teaches the child but also educates the parent and has also taken some to task for imposing their dreams on their child. She firmly believes that each child is different and their uniqueness is what sets them apart. Children learn in different ways depending on their developmental stages. They love to learn new things by exploring and discovering.
Her observation of kids brings a sad truth to light. Some parents are unaware of the needs of their child. Some knowingly ignore their child’s needs, due to social stigma, perceptions, culture etc. Some are unaware of the amazing education system of this country. This is the tragedy of a mega proportion. It is really unfortunate that, with the unhealthy life style and diet, unlimited social media exposure, stress etc. there are more children with special/extra needs than ever before.
On several occasions, Kanan has accompanied parents to school and talked to the authorities about the child’s needs, either special needs or the extra care and attention that is required in certain areas. She does the same when tutoring her children. She also understands the importance of self-initiative, down time and developing skills inherently rather than just memorizing. This has worked wonders for so many of her students. They have gone from failing students to star students, skipping grades and being admitted in the Gifted and Talented programs.
Where others see impenetrable barriers, Kanan sees challenges to embrace and obstacles to overcome. She has always taken the hurdles along her journey as opportunities to grow. Teaching the kids for long hours not only brings her joy but she also derives her energy from them. She has a child-like inquisitiveness and is ever willing to learning new skills and avail new opportunities. She plans to take her passion to cook to another level and diversify into health food catering. Her mantra is “Don’t depend on others to write your destiny. We have to create our own destiny”. The pen that writes your life story must be held in your own hand. She has a very inspiring message to share with us and that is not to underestimate the power of our own strength and to focus on what we can do to help others. Gaining success for yourself, celebrating the achievement in others and feeling and giving empowerment through every little action is going to make you happier, others happier. Everyone is thus more likely to push a little bit harder, or have that little bit more confidence in themselves, the next time!!