Divyashree Shukla: Navigating Career Transitions and Financial Planning in Abu Dhabi

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Divyashree Shukla: Navigating Career Transitions and Financial Planning in Abu Dhabi

Divyashree Shukla, a marketing and communications expert, relocated to Abu Dhabi a year ago after her marriage. Originally from India, she resides with her husband on Reem Island. She attained a master’s degree in journalism and mass communications seven years back.

Presently, she holds a position as a senior account executive and copywriter at a digital marketing firm in the capital.

Reflecting on her career, Ms. Shukla, 28, shares, “Back in India, I had a thriving stint as a communications specialist for a prominent consumer brand, allowing me to lead a comfortable life.”

However, transitioning to the UAE brought its own set of challenges. Ms. Shukla faced difficulties in securing a job due to her lack of local experience.

When asked about her job hunt in Abu Dhabi, she mentioned, “I sent nearly 200 to 250 emails to various companies. To be honest, I heard back from only about 10. But eventually, I landed the job I had set my sights on.”

As for her current salary, she earns between Dh84,000 and Dh100,000 ($22,872 to $27,229) annually in her role as a senior account executive and copywriter.

Comparatively, in India, she was making roughly Dh7,300 a month, or 2 million Indian rupees ($24,000) annually, which is almost on par with her current earnings. However, the cost of living and expenses in Abu Dhabi are significantly higher.

Regarding salary negotiations, Ms. Shukla expressed, “Despite my desire for a higher salary, the gender pay gap and my limited local experience posed challenges. For instance, in the US, women earn about 80 cents for every dollar earned by men. Right now, I’m focused on delivering my best work and accumulating experience, so that I can negotiate more effectively in the future.”

She acknowledged that establishing oneself in a new country is crucial. “You have to prove yourself, and then maybe you can negotiate better in the future. How can you prove that? I can only prove it through my work, by giving my best to the organization.”

In terms of financial planning, Ms. Shukla has spread her savings across her home country and the UAE. In India, her portfolio includes a mix of savings and securities. In the UAE, most of her funds are in savings, with plans to venture into market investments.

She also places a strong belief in investing in gold, citing its global market appeal that transcends borders, politics, religions, and race. She advised that buying jewelry with a making charge of less than 15 percent can lead to earnings from it in the second year onwards.

When it comes to retirement planning, she initiated her savings in 2016. Each year, she allocates 10 to 15 percent of her savings to government-backed debt in her home country. She emphasized India’s rapid economic growth, projecting it to become the third-largest economy globally by 2030.

This investment strategy promises healthy returns, ensuring a substantial nest egg by the time she retires. With a consistent contribution of Dh10,000 per year for 30 years, she expects to have over Dh700,000 in her retirement savings.

Addressing her financial approach, Ms. Shukla stated, “I do not believe in spending money I haven’t earned. I am not swayed by the opinions or actions of others, so I avoid accumulating debt. This provides peace of mind, free from the burden of repaying borrowed money for indulgences.”

In addition to her savings, she maintains a one-month emergency fund in cash at her residence to address unforeseen circumstances. This fund serves as a safety net in case of emergencies.

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