As a 21-year-old, Hansi Mehrotra had her first brush with sailing. Hailing from the small land-locked town of Unnao in Uttar Pradesh, Hansi had only recently moved to Sydney, Australia with an internship in hand after her secretarial course.
A few weeks into the job, her boss invited her on a family sailing trip, and life as she knew it, changed for Hansi.
“I didn’t know what the sea looked like,” she says. “The 20-foot boat was stuffed with five people, and would tilt and toss and I - with my life jacket and the wind in my hair - was absolutely thrilled. I have always been fearless when it comes to new and exciting experiences and I immediately decided I was going to do this for the rest of my life.”
Hansi’s story, one might call, somewhat filmi. Her parents are separated and her mother is based in Australia.
Studying in a Hindi medium school, Hansi took a bus to Kanpur and then to Delhi for an education. She learnt English, and then figured out a way to go to Australia all by herself at the age of 20.
In Sydney, she wrote to CEOs of companies, made cold calls, held various jobs, and worked her way to becoming one of the most important wealth managers in the country. Today, she is the founder of The Money Hans, and has also made it to the LinkedIn Top Voices 2018 - India.
Professional achievements aside, Hansi says sailing is her passion. “Someone in the yachting community introduced me to sailing. I jumped at the opportunity and now, I am part of the sailing social circle.”
Earlier this year, Hansi participated in a race from Mumbai to Murud and back. “Sailing teaches you a lot about life and teamwork,” says Hansi. “When you are at sea, you can’t change the direction of the wind. Similarly, in life, you cannot change the external. You have to move and make yourself agile.”
The Wharton School alumnus soon became the India Business Leader at Mercer Investment Consulting. In her blog, The Money Hans, Hansi often draws parallel between sailing and investing.
“Yachts can be made faster through better design, lighter materials etc so racing organisers apply handicaps to make the races competitive. While investing, you may have some handicaps such as not being knowledgeable enough, or not being able to access certain asset classes. But, you can make up for these by surrounding yourself with a champion crew of a good financial adviser, a good accountant, a good lawyer, and some good funds that add value.”
Sailing is a rich man’s sport - though anybody can sail. A boat typically needs an eight to 10 member crew. “Teamwork is essential if you want to win a race at the sea with your yachts and boats. You need to know the colloquial terms, the sailing jargon and communicate with the crew in good time. Else, like in entrepreneurship, you’ll lose,” she adds.
During the dotcom phase, Hansi put her savings into a new concept that didn’t take off. She says she has no regrets though. “A ship in harbour is safe, but that is not what ships are built for. We need to get out of our comfort zone to achieve what we are meant to. Similarly, we need to take some risks with our investments.”
“Of course, we can save in the safe harbour of bank deposits and cash mutual funds, but then we won’t get good returns and achieve our potential. This is true for sailing, life, and investments."