Founder and CEO of Kinara Capital
Major: Computer Science
Through a job fair her senior year at Knox, Shah began her career as a
management consultant with Accenture, a multinational consulting firm. After
completing her executive MBA at Columbia University, Shah returned to her
home country as a social entrepreneur, raising a fund to finance small and growing Indian businesses.
How did your Knox education help you get where you are now in your career?
Since graduating, I have worked in more than 10 countries across three continents. After completing my executive MBA, I returned to India and raised a fund to finance small and growing businesses. As an international student at Knox, the concept of taking an art class or archaeology or film as a computer science major was strange at first, but I loved the freedom to explore new subjects, to dissect new topics, and to present my viewpoint in an articulate manner. In my career, as in life, it comes back to relationships. My Knox education has been instrumental in enabling me to find common ground and have meaningful conversations with clients, business partners, investors, and employees regardless of where I am in the world.
Describe a Knox moment or professor who impacted your life.
Knox alumna Sue Blew '74 came to the campus to recruit summer interns for PacBell (now AT&T) in 1991. After I was selected, it turned out that I couldn't join the regular PacBell program as it started in mid-May. Because Knox is on a trimester system, I wouldn't get out of school until June. In the true Knox spirit of giving, Sue followed through on her commitment to me and created a role for me on her team outside the standard internship program. Her generosity helped me land my first job after Knox and set me up for a successful career path. Even after all these years, I call Sue for advice. She is also an early investor in the company I launched two years ago.
Articulate the value of a liberal arts education.
A liberal arts education taught me critical thinking and collaborative action. The time spent at the Gizmo debating into the wee hours of the morning may seem to be a bunch of students arguing about random topics, but what you're really doing is forming the basis of problem solving, listening to different perspectives, formulating solutions, and co-creating new ideas. These skills are invaluable in business, especially as we become increasingly connected on a global level.
What career advice would you give to current students?
Don't get stuck on the negative stories you hear in the media. Back when I graduated in 1992, we were in the midst of a full-blown economic recession, and jobs for new college grads were hard to acquire. Knox has prepared you to be persistent, to be flexible, to be resilient -- you will come to rely on these skills as you find or create your own career path.