You Must See It Before You Can BE It, Smita Shah

 “You need to SEE it before you can BE it.” Those words of truth spoken from President and CEO Smita Shah, are at the foundation or cornerstone of her extremely talented and trusted organization, Spaan Tech. Consider for a moment Roger Bannister, the first person to break the four-minute mile. It was presumed that no human could break the four-minute mile prior to Bannister. No one had seen it, therefore, no one believed it. Within 3 years of Mr Bannister showing the world, it could be done, 10 more runners joined the ranks of a sub-four-minute mile. What had happened? The world of runners had seen the 4-minute mile broken, now some began to believe that they too could break the record. “When I stopped and looked around, I noticed that 50 percent of our organization were women or minorities,” Smita Shah commented on the Steve Cochran Show. Not an insignificant accomplishment considering Spaan Tech is a specialized engineering company that develops impactful community projects. Projects such as building bridges and rebuilding road systems. Speaking to pursuing a career in a S.T.E.M. field, “I think it is a real challenge for girls that don’t see it.” 


“I was such a Dorky little person,” Ms. Shah reminisces about her 5th-grade self. Her favorite pastime was that of sitting in the back of the class with a group of boys’, creating and solving word problems using algebraic calculations. This soon transitioned to leading her competitive math relay team to numerous victories both locally and nationwide. “I saved all the ribbons and medals,” Ms. Shah says. Learn more:


As the darkest student in a suburban school in Willowbrook, she never felt as if other girls were “too hard on her”. In fact, she notes on that same interview with Steve Cochran, “I think people are hard on people. As you grow and succeed you will be challenged. I think the best thing you can do is embrace that challenge and do better.” An outlook that helped soar Smita Shah to the accomplishments of a Master’s Degree in Engineering from MIT, as well as degrees in business from Oxford and Northwestern University. So, what does a leader of Industry, who holds a background from MIT, Northwestern and Oxford University as well as a 40 under 40 Chicago business CEO do on her day’s off? Ms. Shah can be found using her energies as a strategic partner for her community, encouraging entrepreneurship, enterprise, and small business. Yes, Ms. Shah is a walking testimony to both the youth and older-ones today, calling out “you have seen it, NOW…you must believe it”. Chase your dreams. 

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