Gitika Srivastava is an entrepreneur and the founder of Navya, a network created for cancer patients to help make the important treatment decisions. She is an angel investor and dedicated to empowering first-time investors and business student in the Boston area.
INDIA New England News: Please tell our readers about your work and what you enjoy most about it?
Gitika Srivastava: I am an entrepreneur and an angel investor in start-ups. Problem solving at an individual or wider scale with technology and people is the crux of what I do. I believe in technology, data, and science, and I value innovation that comes out of university labs and home offices of smart, dedicated people. Learning about new technologies is fun, and figuring out how these can create and influence, is exhilarating. The optimism is what makes one invest more than just money in these possibilities. The commitment to see through each of these visions, in concert with many likeminded, bright, and goodhearted people, is the defining element of my work that I enjoy the most. Be it the founders I invest in, or my team at Navya, we are all driven by the impact that our technologies and commitments can create.
As the founder of Navya, I work with several of the world’s best expert oncologists. They treat every patient with such humility and intelligence, that we have learned the value of making an impact one individual at a time. We help cancer patients make decisions about their treatments and we hold their hands as much as or as little as they want. Building relationships with each of the patients we serve, and the experts with whom we serve, using decision systems, clinical informatics, and a heartfelt service is what my work is about and it is a blessing and a joy to have this opportunity.
INE: To which charitable, community and professional group do you belong and why?
GS: I am a nonresident pre-business tutor for undergraduates, (and in my past life, my house was the de facto home for many of the international students from India and other nations), member of the MIT Entrepreneurship Club, mentor for several of the Boston based start-up incubators, and contribute my time to many start-up events at colleges. I was a first-time entrepreneur once, and a college freshman from India. The advice I got from several in the Boston entrepreneurial community and the support of friends in my early days in college made all the difference. I was naturally drawn to these communities of people, and make my experience and resources available to them.
INE: What are your hobbies and interest?
GS: Really quite a short list actually. I love to read, listen to music, eclectic of all kinds. I love to go on long drives, think, and write (I never drive and write!). I compose a short poem once in a while, and sing into my phone’s microphone. I enjoy the Urdu poetry, and dialogues in Pakistani plays. I love to take photographs and wish I could swim more than I do. My brother says that hobbies are what one likes to do, when not working or busy with family. By that clear definition, hanging out with friends is my favorite hobby, and friendships my greatest interest. A simple short list, like I said.
INE: In what way you feel you have most positively influenced or served the local community and your company/organization and professional field.
GS: I think I have influenced my immediate family and friends, my broader network, and community of caregivers and patients to know that they have the right and the ability to decide alongside their physician on any health matter that touches them or their family. Decision making is a joint process between the patient and the physician, as well as the patient and his or her family. My relentlessness that the patient can and should be involved in such a process, should ask questions and learn about his/her condition, and seek out the information and knowledge, the expertise, to make a decision, will per chance yield a positive outcome for those I know, interact with, share this belief with; and most importantly the cancer patients I actively seek to empower in this regard.
INE: Your rare talent?
GS: I am quite talent-less in the true word of the word. I would never enter a talent show. My husband says I have the rare talent to laugh at myself. He also says I make the best chaat (Indian readers will know what I mean, so I mention it here).
INE: Your favorite books?
GS: Designing Care by Dr. Richard Bohmer. The Power Of Nice – How to negotiate so everyone wins, especially you. The Autobiography Of Benjamin Franklin. The Choice by Eliyahu Goldratt. Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson. Illusions by Richard Bach. Innovator’s Solution by Clayton Christenson. Entrepreneur America by Rob Ryan. And, Shadow The Sheepdog by Enid Blyton.
INE: Your favorite quotes?
GS:“Those who dream the most, do the most.” I don’t know if my father came up with the exact quote (I think he did), or adapted from elsewhere in his reading or experience, but he has repeated these exact words to me many times, and that has enabled me in all ways.
INE: Who inspires you the most?
GS: There was a time when I said that my father inspired me the most. It was true. It still is. I am inspired by my father, like every daughter it, and my father is quite phenomenal. Today, my daughter inspires me the most. She is three years old, and talks about eating the sunshine and going to where the rainbow lives. She once said, “I like you… do you like yourself?” I wasn’t thinking, so I just said “no” and she said “If you don’t like yourself, you will be so sad.” Once on our way to her doctor’s office, she said, “oh I can’t wait to play with the toys in the waiting area.” These moments fill me up with the perspective that one needs to live life. Until now, the phrase living life was a cliché, but inspired by the words of my three year old, I see that that is possible in every which way.
INE: Your core value you try to live by?
GS: I think I am goal oriented, and believe that I should do whatever it takes, toward that goal. That is the core value I live by. To do whatever it takes, within reason and the law of course! I have a short list of goals or priorities, centered on my family, my friendships, and Navya. I don’t think that anything is too small or too much to do to support those priorities. Hence, do whatever it takes, and leave the rest to the Almighty.