Photo of Shwetal Shah

Meet Shwetal Shah!

Shwetal is a winner of the the European Youth Award, a unique European-wide movement of young innovators who never stop learning, questioning and improving the world we live in. The awards are organised by the International Center for New Media (ICNM), a non-profit organisation located in Salzburg, Austria.

Having moved to the U.K. from India in 2013 to pursue an MSc in International Marketing from the University of Strathclyde, the opportunities she has taken over the past five years have shaped her as an individual.

After graduating in 2014, she joined Onepoint Consulting in London as a junior consultant, working with heads of departments of organisations like Network Rail to solve their digital transformation needs.

These opportunities have allowed Shwetal to find her calling – empowering women, youth and minority communities in the UK, using the power of tech as a force for good.

She’s a powerhouse, as you are about to learn in the interview below.

Swetal, tell me how your documentaries highlight equality issues in the workplace

Seeing gender imbalance through my consultancy work led me to undertake outreach initiatives. I invited female technologists to talk about their research, which saw me win Entrepreneur of the Year award by Dr. Rosena Allin-Khan MP for Explore Science.

As a UN Empower Women champion, I made a documentary showcasing women in tech as role models. ‘Balancing Tech’ was screened at IBM’s London HQ, this led to the Feminist Library launching a tech skills programme. It was also selected in top 20 out of 300 submissions for the global UN Sustainable Development Goals-related creative projects by Koreo.

You’ve even filmed a Diana award-winner!

I made a documentary on change enablers in the UK, one of the interviewees Femi Coombes, an 11 year old programmer, won the Princess Diana Award, recognised during the film screening. Through this initiative, I was connected with the founder of Drumroll HQ who made a game, teaching coding to school children.

Due to our closely aligned missions, I joined the team as the Head of Partnerships in November 2017. We grew our customer reach to over 120,000 users worldwide and I distributed it across 153 schools and libraries in the UK. I was responsible for marketing, distributing licenses, fundraising, creating partnerships, aiming to inspire a digitally skilled workforce of the future and showcase British innovation globally.

My work resulted in Tencent expressing an interest to roll out the game in China. I helped secure £110,000 of funding from the Islamic Development Bank, Softwire and Kickstarter combined to continue the development of the game and make it accessible to under-served communities in the UK and other parts of the world via partnerships I worked on, such as UNICEF Bosnia and Girl Scouts NYC.

Wow! What happened next?

We won the Best EMEA Startup award from Steve Wozniak and Sir Richard Branson.

I was invited to be part of the Founders of the Future Network (FF). Some of the contribution I have made in the UK digital community includes curating Mozilla Foundation Festival’s youth zone – giving young people a platform to immerse in the word of digital via hands on workshops, Mentoring UK digital startups that go to European Youth Award, advising youth workers leading UK Youth’s Nominet Trust funded Digital Hubs.

I have also engaged in a panel discussion with the Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium and moderated a session with the President of Google.org talking about how the UK is addressing gender and diversity imbalance in the digital sector at the European Development Days.

How has your Indian upbringing helped you make change here in the UK?

Since 2013, I have given my heart and soul to the UK, integrating into the very fabric of what makes Britain; a determination to work hard for a better world and push the boundaries of technological progress. My work has allowed me to advise the Duke of Sussex when he was appointed Youth Ambassador to the Commonwealth and I was granted a Royal Commonwealth Society Fellowship.

What’s next? How can you top what you’ve achieved so far?

I aim to continue making society more inclusive, they have also helped me find strength and overcome personal adversities. Since the start of 2019, I have been working on the I Am campaign, chronicling the career journeys of everyday role models and opening up a dialogue of what the future of work looks like. I would love to meet like-minded women across the world who I hope I can collaborate with to work towards reducing inequalities.

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