Global Indian | Monica Iyer

Monica Iyer: Keeping Indian traditions alive in California

Written by: Ranjani Rajendra

Name: Monica Iyer | Designation: President | Company: IASC | Place: California

(July 08, 2023) For years Monica Iyer had pursued a successful career. First as a banker with Wells Fargo and then as a successful realtor with Coldwell Banker. However, one fine day in 2013, this Mumbai-born California-based professional decided to give up a corporate career for something she deeply cared for: to keep alive Indian traditions and bring together the Indian community in her area. Thus began her journey as a community leader and association with the Indian Association of South Santa Clara County (IASC) where she now serves as president.

“My years at Wells Fargo and Coldwell Banker were satisfying to be sure. However, I always felt that there was something lacking,” says Monica, “One day I attended an IASC event and liked it. Growing up in Oman, my parents had always been heavily involved in local Indian events. I gradually began getting involved in IASC’s events and eventually decided to pursue it full time.”

Global Indian | Monica Iyer

Monica Iyer

Born in Mumbai and raised in Oman, Monica did her schooling in the Sultanate before moving back to the city of her birth to pursue her B.Com and then M.Com from Mumbai University. Soon after, she began working as a lecturer at Sydenham College, but gave it up when she got married and moved to the US with her husband, a software engineer. “I then went on to do an MBA from Santa Clara University before taking up my first job in the US with Wells Fargo as a personal banker. While there, I sold accounts, home loans and lines of credit.”

In the meanwhile, Monica had her first child and also was waiting for her Green Card to be processed. “I’d always enjoyed working with people, but I began to find the bank job a bit restrictive in terms of the timings. I needed a more flexible profession so I could devote more time to my growing family,” says 53-year-old Monica, who went on to become a realtor and even obtained a licence as a loan coordinator. “I worked with Coldwell Banker for more than a decade and the job was pretty satisfying. Yet, I felt like there was something missing somewhere. Moreover, most of the showings took place over weekends and that meant time away from my family.”

It was around this time that Monica, who’d always loved dance, choreographed a performance for an IASC event. The event was a success and Monica eventually took on the role of cultural coordinator. She began enjoying her work with the association so much that she decided to give up her job as a realtor and join the association full time. “My husband was supportive too and asked me to do whatever made me happy.”

Global Indian | Monica Iyer

Monica with IASC members

Gradually, she rose in rank to become vice president and eventually president. The association which covers the cities of Morgan Hill, San Martin, Gilroy, South San Jose, and Hollister was formed nearly 30 years ago but was a more informal association. In 2018, under Monica’s leadership IASC became more organised and was registered and converted into a tax exempt non-profit organisation. “As an association our mission is to impart our heritage to our children as well as serve the community,” says Monica, adding, “We organise cultural events, conduct various clubs (music, yoga, seniors etc), and celebrate various festivals.”

“As president I believe that delegation of tasks is very important for a healthy organisation. I began appointing people to take on various roles and responsibilities,” says Monica, adding that community service is a big part of their role in the region. During the pandemic too, the association had various volunteers cooking food at home that was dropped off at homeless shelters here. “A lot of us were hit pretty hard by the pandemic, especially the seniors. Loneliness was a major challenge for all of us living so far away from home. Zoom came to our rescue and we managed to stay connected. We usually host a mega Diwali event each year; but that year we hosted it on Zoom with families recording dances in their backyards. To me IASC is more than an association. It’s a family and we’ve got to stick together.”

According to Monica, IASC helped her connect to more Indians and grow her circle. “It’s given me a sense of purpose and is very satisfying in a way that banking and real estate were not,” she smiles, adding, “I don’t earn from this role, but it gives me great happiness when compared to the corporate world.”

Global Indian | Monica Iyer

Monica’s art exhibition

On a typical day Monica is busy with IASC activities as well as her volunteer work with the Mumbai-based Prabhu Tarun organisation that caters to the Pathare Prabhu community to which Monica belongs. “I work as their tech lead looking after their website and video editing. I’ve also begun producing their monthly news bulletin,” she says. She also squeezes in a dance workout and loves to unwind over video games and sketching. “I love pencil sketching and have begun undertaking portrait orders that I ship internationally as well.”

As she packs in as many activities as she can, Monica says the lines between work and life are pretty blurred in her case. “That’s because I don’t consider it to be work,” she smiles, adding, “We have only one life to live and I’d like to pack in as much as I can.”


  • A successful career can come in unexpected forms. Embrace it if it’s what you’re looking for.
  • Be open to opportunities, big or small.
  • Love what you do. It’ll take you a long way.
  • We have one life; pack in as much as you can.

Share with