JA Alumni: The Scoop on JA Impact
One JA Alum, Nindi Wadhwa, shares his JA story and how his participation continues to impact him today. He is the founder of Scooptacular Ice Cream.
“I had always wanted to become a pilot, but found out I needed glasses when I started high school. At the time, commercial pilots could not wear glasses. With my dreams crushed, I was unsure what career I wanted to pursue. I was introduced to Junior Achievement’s Company Program in 10th grade. The idea of starting a company with fellow peers sounded great.
Our company was called FRED – Friends Reaching Executive Decisions, and we decided to create dinosaur banks (the movie Jurassic Park was just released). Learning about the basic foundation of business and all the various facets – production, marketing, sales, HR – was eye opening. The senior members of our student company were very welcoming and saw potential in me. Halfway through the year, we had a vacancy in the executive team and I, a newbie, was asked to fill the VP of Finance position. I think being thrown right into a leadership role helped develop a new found confidence. The following year I ran and won VP of Finance, and my last year I was President.
As I neared the end of my high school career, I had learned that Air Canada had changed their standards and glasses were allowed. I grew up in a Blue Collar home. My parents expected me to go to college and get a “good” job. Their idea of financial freedom was a solid employer with a pension. We know today that is not always a reality. I ended up pursuing a career in aviation, but JA really planted a seed of becoming an entrepreneur.
In 2008, my airline began to downsize and I was furloughed. I decided to pursue my MBA and the opportunity to open my own business came about. In 2010, my wife and I launched Scooptacular Ice Cream. We now have 2 locations, wholesale to other stores and provide ice cream for several restaurants. I don’t think I would have taken the risk if I had not been exposed to JA. Junior Achievement taught me that anyone can be an entrepreneur.
Financial literacy and work readiness are also a significant part of our company culture. We see many young people that have not been taught how to manage their money. We want them to have a solid foundation for their future. Even during the hiring process, we required candidates to read a book. We want our team to have tools to change their lives. We read books as a group at various times during the year, and even require employees to report on the reading. Each new hire is required to go through Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. Our manager, Kalani, helps employees with their personal budgets if they choose!
My wife and I have been volunteering with JA at our children’s schools for the last 4 years. We love teaching kids the basics of finance and impacts of business. I love what JA has taught me and look forward to sharing this with others!”– Nindi Wadhwa