University of Connecticut alumnus Hemal Shah was named a 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 for Consumer Technology.
The honor is given to innovative people who are transforming business and changing the world, according to the Forbes website.
“I was surprised, I just think that there are incredibly talented people in the world and people just doing amazing things,” Shah, a 2012 UConn graduate with degrees in computer science and engineering, business and mathematics, said. “A lot of people who are still overcoming circumstances, and I know that it’s difficult for women to get leadership roles in tech, so I am just surprised I was just considered and worthy enough for this compared to so many other people.”
Since hearing about his award, Shah has taken time to reflect on how he achieved such an honor, attributing his successes to his mentors and those he collaborated with.
“It just made me appreciate that because I don’t feel like I really appreciated the fact that I had the chance to work with such amazing and smart people, who got me here,” Shah said.
Elaborating on his life after UConn, Shah said he now lives in California, working closely with Instagram.
“I am a product manager of Instagram, so I help the team understand what problem we are really solving for our users and I help the team figure out what we are building,”
Shah said. “Why we are building it this way, how should it look, work and feel and then how are we getting it out to people.”
Beyond his work at Instagram, Shah has invested both time and money in other small companies.
“Instagram is my career, but on the side, I enjoy advising and investing in companies I believe are making positive change in the world,” Shah said. “I figure out how I can help them get to a successful outcome, whatever that successful outcome may be.”
Looking to the future, Shah has considered different options for his career in coming years all driven by the same force, problem solving.
“For me, in a few years, I just want to make sure I am tackling the most important problems that there could be that I am excited by,” Shah said. “Whether that be a company on my own or maybe that’s still being part of a company like Instagram, but I just want to make sure I am always solving problems and making a positive change.”
Reflecting on his Alma mater, Shah acknowledges the strengths UConn provided him that got him where he is today.
“The most important thing to remember is that your potential doesn’t change whether you go to UConn or Harvard, it is only what you make of the experience,” Shah said. “You can get to be wherever you want to be, you just have to be passionate about something”
Shah shed light on the most important thing he learned while at UConn – Networking.
“Network. Find people who are successful and really smart and do whatever it takes to work with them and learn from them, because that is the only reason that I have gotten to where I have,” Shah said. “There are so many smart people in the world, but what separates those people is who they’re getting the chance to learn and grow with, because the best ideas are born from collaborating with people.”
Naiela Suleiman is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.