Legislative Policy Champion Gitanjali Swamy: Empowering Women and Always Asking Hard Questions

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Gitanjali M. Swamy
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BOSTON– Gitanjali Swamy is a legislative policy or regulation champion. Her special areas of interest include economic development and investment policy. Swamy is also a Managing Partner at IoTask, an innovation consulting firm.

Currently, she serves as a Senior Legislative and Policy Advisor to the office of State Senator Mark at the Massachusetts State Senate. She was previously Senior Legislative and Policy Advisor with the office of Senator Hinds, where she also served as Chief Legal Advisor.

Ms. Swamy is also a Managing Partner at IoTask, an innovation consulting firm. In addition,  she has founded, built, served as board director in innovation enterprises, led the investment sourcing, structuring, and transaction of seed to over a billion dollar deals, in her investment or professional roles at IoTask, The Carlyle Group and Booz Allen & Hamilton.

Ms. Swamy is a representative to the EQUALS Global Partnership (a Joint Venture of the ITU, GSMA, UNU, UN Women), Board and Steering Committee member of the MIT Consortium Initiative for DI in Land, Water, Air, in collaboration with The World Bank, Research Fellow & Director at the Private Capital Research Institute, Harvard Business School. She has co-founded five successfully acquired startups and has helped found MIT’s OpenCourseware, the Auto-ID Consortium and the MIT Engine investment vehicle.

She has collaborated on ESG projects with MIT Corporation, United Nations agencies, Fabindia Overseas Pvt Ltd, and several Government P3 ESG efforts. She has also served as faculty at Harvard and Columbia University, where she taught classes in finance and policy. She currently serves on the Board of DFCU, a top 20 credit union bank in Massachusetts that has consistently been voted Best Credit Union” by Banker & Tradesman, and the PAN-IIT Global USA Board.

She received her B. Tech in Electrical Engineering from the IIT Kanpur, where she was awarded several Academic Proficiency Prizes, her Ph.D. in EECS from the University of California at Berkeley, where she was an NSF Fellow & President of WICSE, and her MBA from Harvard Business School, where she served as CFO of HBS-SA, and her Juris Doctor (JD) from St. Francis Law, and she a member of the California Bar. Dr. Swamy has over 25 publications and patents in the fields of data, algorithms, technology, and policy. She was recently voted in Ten Most Influential Women in Technology.

Here is a Q/A with Ms. Swamy, who will honored at the Woman of the Year Awards Gala at Burlington Marriott Hotel in Burlington, MA, on April 14, 2023. To buy a ticket for the gala, please click here.

INDIA New England News: Please tell our readers about your work and what you enjoy most about it? 

Gitanjali Swamy: There are many aspects to my work that I enjoy. The top 3 are (1) The ability to solve global-scale problems to affect transformational change for the better of society (2) The ability to see the impact locally for people (3) The continuous learning required as we deal with such diversity of challenges and peoples

INE: What does success and failure mean to you? 

GS: Life is a journey that we all undertake; we have no control over the results and only thing we have control over is how we live it with our actions and choices. Success is being the best person you can be under the circumstances presented to you and failure is giving into your own weaknesses.

INE: The one thing you attribute your success to? 

GS: I’ve found that approaching life with a learning mindset is the secret to being your best self. Whenever I get overwhelmed or discouraged, I think about what I am hoping to learn and take joy in the process of discovery.

INE: To which charitable, community and professional group do you belong and why? 

GS: The Boston Club and the United Nations EQUALS global partnership. Both those groups focus on empowering women and being part of a community of like-minded incredible women is immensely rewarding. Today women form more than half the graduates in the workforce and form half the new businesses. But despite that both their economic participation and their access to resources is a pitiful fraction. The reason for this difference is both the institutional barriers in dated laws and the lack of informal networks combined with the exercise of that informal power. Organizations like The Boston Club and UN EQUALS work to change this status quo.

I am also a board member of Pan IIT Global in the US and DFCU Bank. The former is a community that I owe much to and this is my way of giving back. The latter is about enabling financial inclusion in my local community.

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’ve always felt that my biggest contribution is my ability to ask hard questions that many avoid or ignore, push the boundaries of the possible and come up with better solutions. This has been my contribution in every sphere; finding better ways to transform the world around us for the better. Whether this is in my role in the government as we look at regulation and policy that will create participative economic development, or influencing stakeholders as part of TBC, EQUALS to act more long term or helping clients solve innovation problems in business activity.

INE: What are your hobbies and interest? 

GS: I spend a lot of time hiking in the woods and swimming. I am also an avid reader. I am also a big believer in meditation and mindfulness.

INE: Your favorite books? 

GS: The Bhagawat Gita, Isaac Asimov — the Foundation Trilogy and the Stars like Dust. In the nonfiction – Kindlebergers, Manias, Panics and the Madness of Crowds and Swanson’s Portfolio Theory. More recently Lynn Stout – The Shareholder Value Myth and a compendium of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s decisions edited by Nancy Gertner.

INE: Your favorite quotes? 

GS: From Alice in Wonderland “I dare say you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

From Mahatma Gandhi– “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

INE: The one person you would like to meet and why? 

GS: I think every person is fascinating to meet. But most recently I’ve been wanting to meet with Kati Kariko, the woman who invented the mRNA vaccine.

INE: Your core value you try to live by? 

GS: Approach each day with wonderment, and joy, each person with empathy and respect, and each moment with the conviction that you will be making the world a little better for everyone.

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