On April 25th, 2019 Smita Shah, CEO of SPAAN Tech sat down with Steve Cochran of The Steve Cochran Show on 720WGN to talk about her work as an entrepreneur, engineer, and CEO of her growing tech business. Smita Shah graduated from MIT with a Masters degree in Engineering, and only two years later, in 1998, started SPAAN Tech with the simple goal of creating a company where talented people could come together to work on projects that support communities. Today SPAAN Tech works on putting solar panels on homes, building roads, lighting streets, and more. Learn more: https://www.thechicagonetwork.org/members/smita-shah/
Smita Shah describes herself as a naive twenty-four-year-old when she started SPAAN Tech who wasn’t concerned about failing at creating a company. This kind of attitude she still expresses today.
“If something doesn’t work, you try something else,” she is quoted as saying. Smita goes on to explain that she never feared failure because at worst it meant that she might have to go on to work for someone else. Twenty years later SPAAN Tech is still going strong and is getting bigger than ever.
Steve asked several questions regarding her status as a woman and minority CEO of a tech firm. Smita recounts her early childhood interest in mathematics and science and coming from an Indian family, where her father was an engineer. Though she was aware that she was different from the other girls her age she didn’t think twice about choosing this as her career path. Still, even today, Smita fights the stigma of women in STEM and believes that women are each other’s strongest allies when it comes to succeeding in this field. Smita Shah argues that math and science are fundamental parts of education and modern life, for both men and women.
When Steve asked her about the advice she would give young girls who would consider STEM she stressed the importance of leading by example,
“You need to see it in order to be it,” she says. She empathizes that when women do enter STEM they are competitive and that they do succeed. More than that, as technology advances the demand for STEM fields increases, and we will continue to need bright minds applied to the task of solving the world’s problems. She attests that the work is great for women and men because it is balanced work that leaves time for family and self-development. Her company places emphasis on the support of the family and the community. Her final advice is to embrace the challenges that life will send your way. Connect with Smita on LinkedIn