TheBridge profile: Shanaz Chowdhery

TheBridge profile: Shanaz Chowdhery

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Name: Shanaz Chowdhery

Current city: Alexandria, VA

Current job: General Manager, Alternative Education at Vemo Education

Past job: Regional Director, Washington DC at General Assembly

Q. Favorite spot for a coffee meeting? A park bench near the most convenient Starbucks

Q. Describe one skill you learned in a previous job that helped you in your current job. I learned to be hyper-responsive as a way to surprise and delight my stakeholders while I was the Regional Director of the DC market at General Assembly. I was regularly receiving hundreds of emails a week from my team, students, hiring partners, event organizers, prospective employees, and more that required thoughtful responses. I learned to triage by responding quickly and either answering right then (within 1 min of receiving the email) or letting them know that I’d circle back at X time. Even though my inbox was often overflowing, everyone knew when they’d hear back. That, in combination with a relentless insistence on inbox zero helped to surprise and delight anyone who depended on me for something via email.

Q. Job advice in three words? Always bring data.

Q. How are you (or your company, org, nonprofit) currently bridging the gap between politics and tech? A lot of serious policy and political stakeholders are rightfully ringing the alarm bell about the opportunity gap in our country, and they are highlighting the need for new and innovative solutions to eliminate financial barriers to educational access and skills-based training. Vemo Education works with colleges, universities, and educational providers to knock down financial barriers to high quality educational opportunities by creating pay as you succeed, income-based tuition plans that align price and student success.

Q. Looking back, what advice would you give yourself in the beginning of your career?
You’re probably never going to go to law school, but that is okay. Dedicate your career to pursuing work you love, work that you’re passionate about, and work that makes a difference in the world. You can do anything, but you should do things that make you happy and that are interesting and exciting enough to propel you out of bed in the morning. Also, invest in your 401K because compounding interest is magical.

Q. What's one piece of advice you are still trying to master? Control what you can.

Q. Most underrated virtue in an employee? Enthusiasm! People with infectious enthusiasm bring a special dynamic to a team.When work gets dull, overwhelmingly complex, tedious, bleak, or tiring, enthusiasm can meaningfully push the team along.

Q. Favorite app? Callr - it checks your calendar for conference calls and auto-dials them for you. It’s fabulous.

Q. Best advice you’ve received? Feedback is like a sweater grandma gave you as a gift. Sometimes it’s beautiful and you’ll want to embrace it and wear it every day. Sometimes it’s ugly and you’ll want to shove it in a drawer and never think of it again. But regardless, you have to say thank you.

Q. Startup to watch? I hear the team at Vemo Education is doing incredible things.

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