Many people have become famous entrepreneurs over the years but none have been more impressive than Smita Shah as she started out when she was just 24. So how has she been able to maintain an immense amount of success over the years while remaining grounded? She recently sat down for a radio interview to discuss these issues. It first started when she was in high school and noticed she was one of the only girls in her math class and the only non-white student in science class. While she didn’t mind this, it did drive her to succeed and help increase the amount of diversity in the workplace. This is why she tries to hire a wide variety of people from different age ranges, ethnicities, genders, etc. Afterward, she enrolled at Northwestern.
This is where she first acquired her affinity for science, technology, and mathematics and made the conscious decision to major in civil engineering. After doing well in her courses and graduating at the top of her class, she went on to do a master’s at MIT where she found the female student population to be upwards of 47%. Upon the completion of her academic career, she was offered the opportunity to be a structural engineer at a company known as SOM and she ended up accepting the position. After only a year with them, she decided to open her own business in the fall of 1998 known as Spaan Tech and it has been thriving ever since.
When she was deciding to start this new business, her main objective was to bring together a group of unique individuals with a particular set of skills to help attain the company’s goals to help the community at large. She was initially unsure whether or not the company would be a big success but this didn’t deter her from starting this new business venture. She knew that if the company crashed and burned, she could always find other ways to make a living and, if it flourished under her leadership, she would become an inspiring role model for many generations of female entrepreneurs to come. Over the years, she has encouraged female professionals to have each other’s backs in the workplace to help them get ahead in their fields. Learn more: https://cee.mit.edu/tag/smita-shah/
Of course, she has experienced quite a bit of sexism and discrimination over the years as some people come into the office and automatically assume she has a more subservient position. However, she has said that she doesn’t let this kind of thing get to her and she understands that oftentimes it was just an honest mistake. Through past experiences, she has found that her son is not quite as outspoken as her daughter but she has said she never plays favorites when it comes to her friends and family. In the future, she hopes to continue her philanthropic endeavors through the company. With over twenty years of experience in the field, the future looks bright for Spaan Tech and Shah.