Hometown Hero: Kejal Shah

Kejal Shah grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, but his background is very different from many who were raised in the Midwest. He says, “To say that I grew up in a unique background is an understatement. My father is from England and his dad is from India. My mom’s side of the family are all from Cincinnati, Kentucky and Virginia. So I jokingly tell everyone I’m a cowboy Indian at heart! I actually grew up Hindu for most of my life until I was 17. Then one night I went to a youth group service in my hometown of Mason, Ohio. I accepted Christ there and then, because I felt this tug on my heart knowing that God was calling me at the right time and the right place for the right reasons, which is an ongoing theme for my life.”

Kejal attended Cedarville University where he started as a finance major with a minor in political science, thinking he was going to be a state senator. But God had other plans. Halfway through college, he realized that God had given him specific gifts and talents that were more gauged toward investing in relationships and in creative thinking.

After graduation and gaining experience in a few entry level jobs, a future employer, Renewal by Anderson, suggested that recruiting might be a good fit for him. The company eventually offered him the position of lead recruiter. He says, “I didn’t think in a million years that, at eight months out of college I would have an opportunity to be a lead recruiter. I think that goes to show where God has given you gifts and talents that you need to execute on them. All glory to God of course!”

His next position was with Northwestern Mutual as the director of campus recruiting. He comments, “So I love working with young professionals, inspiring them to be successful and finding the kind of success that I was blessed with early on in my life. I got to the point where I was mentoring and coaching young professionals, and I was showing them hope. If there is one thing I can tell you, it’s that young people are starved for this. They are trying to find it in dating. They are trying to find it in financial freedom when they don’t even have any money. And they are trying to find it even in their family and the freedom they experience going to college.”

He continues, “I quickly realized that God put me in that seat for a purpose, and that purpose was to inspire them to live out the gifts and talents that they have, but also to get closer to knowing who God is. Especially in a very political corporate environment you have to be very careful about how you are sharing your faith. So I would get very strategic about that. I would say, ‘I love you as one of my students, and I want to mentor you and inspire you to become the best of who you are created to be. How can I pray for you personally and professionally?’ It’s a very simple way to say I care about you on a spiritual playing field and also in a personal side of things.”

When asked how the young professionals he worked with responded, he says, “I would like to say the majority of them were more receptive to it because the intent was good, and I wasn’t being so forceful with it. One thing about our faith walk is that I can’t expect other people to understand the incredible hope and love and grace and mercy that God has given to me and so many others. So it’s droplets. You’re planting seeds in these peoples’ lives of hope and joy and being the most positive uplifting person I can possibly be. I think that’s what those students needed at the time. It wasn’t shoving Jesus down their throat. It was showing that I did love them and genuinely cared for their futures.”

Currently Kejal is the talent and marketing manager for a telecommunications and data analytics company in Cincinnati called RDI. He states, “I am working closely in recruiting, marketing and talent development. God has opened a door out of nowhere to build on the skills and gifts and talents that He has given me. He truly has given me the gift of this position, even be a witness in the workplace. I have had the opportunity in every company I have worked with to witness to the CEO. I really don’t care about the clout. I don’t care about what people think of me: whether I am too spiritual or too free with my faith. But if there’s one thing I can tell people it’s that everything I have in my life is a gift from God. I would have nothing without Him. So he could take away the positions regardless of whether or not I say something. I would rather act boldly in faith knowing that I’m not shoving Christ down people’s throats, but I’m being intentional about sharing why I am successful at what I do and what gifts and talents God has given to me that have helped me get thus far. And through that as well, I have started my own career coaching practice and my own consulting business for helping small businesses attract, develop, and retain high caliber candidates. And I also have done some consulting for small businesses in terms of digital marketing. There is a lot of opportunity when you are bold in your faith and you aren’t afraid of what people think about it. You’re positive, you’re uplifting and you bring joy into peoples’ lives. That’s what they care about more. And the most joyous people in the world SHOULD be Christ followers. I think it should be us in the workforce being intentional about saying to others who are struggling: ‘look, there is a God who loves you. There is a God who has a purpose and plan for your life and the gifts and talents he has given you is a reflection of Him. It’s not a reflection of how great you are.’ That’s a whole different mindset that people forget.“