The String and Key Crew: Hetal Karani

Jasmin H
Jasmin H
Jul 14, 2020 · 5 min read
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As part of our ongoing employee spotlight series, we’ll be profiling colleagues who inspire us. Today, meet Hetal Karani.

Company Role: Senior Strategy Analyst

Most likely to: be trash-talking you while winning a card or board game (sincerest apologies to all those affected at S&K)

Secret talent: can guarantee a swish from the three-point line of any basketball court (approx. 92% accuracy)

Hetal is full of fun facts: she stands at exactly five feet tall but has represented the United Arab Emirates in several basketball tournaments internationally. She’s also always been fascinated by space travel and is an avid traveler here on planet Earth, but she’s intensely afraid of flying and heights. A conglomerate of contradictions, Hetal clearly believes that within every obstacle, there’s an opportunity. An inspiring mindset to have, she brings this excellent perspective to her work here at String and Key.

But, fun facts aside, how did this previous architect and UX designer end up working with us? Growing up in Dubai and witnessing the desert city morph into the concrete jungle it is famous for being today, Hetal moved to New York to pursue her studies in architecture. After two years in the architecture industry (and a small exploration of UX design) she was drawn to the strategy side of life and came to String and Key to share the knowledge. She now spends her days helping us put together the puzzle pieces of our business, and we’re happy to have her on board.

Read on to learn about this super-interesting, hilarious and awesome member of our crew.

What’s your favorite part about working at String and Key?
The ability to have an ear-drum shattering, and tone-deaf karaoke session on a Friday night! Just kidding. Hands down, It’d have to be the people. I’ve met some of the smartest, most genuine, and hard-working people at String and Key. From working late to hit deadlines to celebrating all of our milestones to supporting empowering movements such as Black Lives Matter and more, the passion in which we do everything really defines the culture and what we collectively stand for.

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What excites you about your job?
I would say how dynamic being part of the Strategy team is. You find yourself wearing many hats — from being a consumer researcher to assessing technology stacks, to working on financial modeling to analyzing competitors. The role requires you to be a liaison between multiple departments within the tech and creative pipeline. Ultimately you’re crafting the business for success (no pressure), it’s a fun position to be in.

What do you find most challenging about your role?
The introspection (and the occasional fire drills). We work hard to craft our insights, but there’s always power and humility in questioning your findings and going back to the drawing board when needed. More than anything, we need to be confident that we can stand by our work if challenged.

What are the values that drive you?
Everything I am, I owe to my dad. Growing up, I saw my dad work 18 hours a day, seven days a week, with no days off. He started his business with nothing but a second-hand pick-up truck, a loan, and a dream; all this without so much as a high school diploma. He worked hard to send us to university and give us the education and life he never had. He taught me that success means working hard, being humble, staying curious, and above all being passionate about whatever it is that you do.

How do you stay on top of your game?
For me, it’s a combination of networking and skill stacking. I’m constantly reaching out to people in tech via LinkedIn while also attending fintech seminars or digital networking events for women in tech. Also, as a team, we’ve started taking courses to help us stay ahead of the game (it’s all part of my bid to become the ultimate Strategy Ninja, of course).

What drew you to tech, and what excites you about the industry?
Coming into tech young and with no prior experience in the industry was admittedly intimidating. You constantly deal with imposter syndrome. I find solace knowing that everyone’s in the same boat because tech is continually evolving, so we’re all learning together. Also, as an industry that operates on meritocracy to define whether your ideas are valid — as opposed to age or years of experience — is another reason why the tech space holds a special place in my heart.

What’s one thing — either industry-related or not — that you’ve learned in the last month?
Riding a bike (although I’m not learning, I’m regaining confidence). So, a while back, I was cycling through the treacherous mountains of Banff, Canada, when I accidentally fell in a rather deep ditch. After that experience, I never rode a bike (or revisited Canada) — until now! I took the initiative to learn how to ride again this summer, mainly to get some exercise and also explore the city more during the pandemic. I can now confirm that the saying “one never forgets how to ride a bike” is correct.

What unexpected subject could you give a one-hour presentation on with no advance prep?
The many mysteries and scandals of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as told by a fly on the wall. I’ve witnessed every secret passageway (did you know that the MET is like an iceberg? The average visitor only sees 40% of the museum). I’d have a lot to talk about since I was the right-hand woman for the exhibition design manager for an entire semester.

What keeps you busy outside of work?
Due to the pandemic, I decided it was time to unleash my inner (but repressed) Warren Buffett (much like the many other millions of millennials who flocked to online investing). I took a two-week crash course, learning about options and strike prices, and more — I then officially created my very own stock portfolio! My key mantras are: only invest in what you know, be in it for the long haul and make unemotional buys and sells. I also write articles on the side about industry disruption and innovation, and even my experiences in transitioning careers. I publish my articles on Medium, follow me here @hetalkarani.

Can you list five hashtags that describe your personality?
#NapoleonComplex #GirlPower #NerdyButCool #WorldDomination #LethallyCompetitive

Lighting Round:

Rice or noodles?
Noodles.

Adventure or relax?
Adventure (with a ten-page itinerary).

Pause time or rewind time?
Rewind.

Backpack or suitcase?
Suitcase.

Organized or improvised?
Organized (but with a Plan B).

Interested in working at String and Key? Join us!

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