With timeless values, the Shah family succeeds at Stevens


Shah Brothers

The Shah brothers – Sachin ’89 and Saumil ’91 – have learned a lot over the years, from their industrious parents, each other, and their alma mater. And now they’re teaching what they know to a new generation of the family finding their way at Stevens.

The brothers were born in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, in northwest India, and moved to the United States during the early 1970s. Having settled first in Jersey City and then North Bergen, the brothers’ father, Niranjan, worked foremost as a pharmacist, and their mother, Vilas, a lawyer in India, built a new career in IT. 

“Our dad worked multiple jobs,” Saumil said. “Our mom worked several jobs, and then she went to night school. My brother and I grew up learning from the focus and dedication our parents had, of immigrants doing whatever was necessary.”

“Another important thing,” Sachin added, “is that our parents had a mutual admiration for each other. There was never a second guess of mom working and being an equal in the household.”

The brothers were sons of immigrants yet grew up as typical American kids do, playing a lot of sports. Sachin was adept at math and science, and his parents suggested he apply to Stevens since it had a good reputation and he could save money commuting. But he didn’t need pushing. “I applied early decision and worked hard to make it happen,” Sachin said. “I was accepted early, and so I never applied to any other school.”

Sachin majored in electrical engineering and played baseball all four years. “At Stevens there’s a concept of continuous improvement,” Sachin said about what he learned on campus. “In engineering you’re building a bridge or you’re building a computer, but you're always looking to build the next best bridge, or the next bigger bridge, or the next faster computer. You're never done, so chuck it, solve it, fix it, and move on to the next thing. I think that's a lifelong skill and really important.”

Saumil arrived at Stevens two years later, partly based on his brother’s strong recommendation. He too majored in electrical engineering, and he played lacrosse, was a brother in Delta Tau Delta, and served as president of Khoda and the Student Council.

He also learned similar thinking skills. “Exceptional would be an understatement,” Saumil said of his time at Stevens. “The curriculum is so challenging here that you're not going to ace everything, but if you think about your ability to stumble, yet not completely fail, it builds confidence. Another thing, because Stevens is a small campus, you get to know a lot of people, so you also develop socially and develop leadership skills. There are many different opportunities in a small community to contribute in multiple ways.”

Since graduating, the Shah brothers have built successful careers. Saumil, who earned a master’s in technology management in 2000 and an MBA in 2008 from Stevens, is based in Milwaukee as the director of global business development for Rockwell Automation (he also served as a Stevens alumni trustee). Sachin, who also earned a graduate degree in technology management from Stevens in 1993, is the chairman, president, and CEO of MetLife Japan. In 2018, at the fifth annual Stevens Awards Gala, Sachin received the International Achievement Award (and he’s currently an advisor on the School of Business board).

Though the brothers live continents apart, they are still close. “We know each other well, back to coming to this country,” Saumil said. “It was the four of us, and with our parents working multiple jobs, our mom doing night school plus working, it was my brother and me, and so he and I became very close.”

Sachin has always admired Saumil’s friendliness. “There was a lot to learn around him with social skills and his ability to talk to anybody, to approach anybody. I do that a thousand times better today than I did, and a lot of that is really from watching him.”

“I admire his intelligence,” Saumil responded. “His resilience, his open mindedness. Probably the biggest thing that's impacted me in my life is his constant confidence in me. His constant confidence in who I was, and even to this day, his constant reinforcement of who I can be.”

Both Sachin and Saumil have families, and their parents, now retired and living in Florida, often visit their sons and grandchildren. All three generations are close, and the brothers are teaching their kids what they learned from their parents.

“We continue to have high expectations,” Saumil said. “A strong work ethic is a clear expectation. That hasn't changed from my parents to the way I raise my kids. I'm sure my brother echoes that as well.”

“Yes,” Sachin agreed. “You have no right to ask for luck if you're not willing to work hard. If you're willing to work hard, there's a chance you'll get good luck. That's been instilled by both of our parents, and we’re hitting our kids with it constantly.”

The lessons are sticking. Saumil’s daughter Serena enrolled at Stevens in 2017, and she is majoring in Business & Technology and playing on the soccer team.

“My first year at Stevens went well,” Serena said. “The transition to college was challenging, but I was blessed to be supported and surrounded by wonderful teammates and coaches, and good friends. From my experience already, I am confident that the life lessons I learn as a student and athlete at Stevens will prepare me for my future.”

“I'm excited for my daughter,” said Saumil, who volunteers on the Parents Council. Saumil said. “If she has 25% of the experience I had at Stevens, I couldn't be more ecstatic. I love that she's building a technology foundation but can focus on finance. And I've encouraged her to take advantage of the facilities, the professors, and all the access she’ll have through the Hanlon lab. The investment and development I've seen in the business curriculum is exciting for me, as an alum and now as the parent of a student.”

When Serena returns for her sophomore year, her cousin Jaisal will join her. He’ll also study Business & Technology, and like his father, he also got into Stevens on early admission.

“I’m proud of my son and happy he is attending Stevens,” Sachin said. “Not many schools can claim what Stevens has in location and history. The campus was always wonderful, but now with all of the capital improvements, compared to a lot of other schools that might be three or four thousand students, Stevens punches above its weight.”


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