Smita Shah; Chair of Chicago Sister Cities International Delhi Committee

Recently, Smita Shah, together with Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Andrea Zopp (the Chief Executive Officer of World Business Chicago), First Lady Amy Eshelman, and Senator Dick Durbin, met at the annual Legacy of Mahatma Gandhi luncheon. The luncheon marked the fifth year of honoring Gandhi for inspiring civil rights movements internationally.


At the Event, Mayor Lightfoot announced that 2nd October 2019 marks the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth. Gandhi was a renowned leader who advocated for all individuals (both the poor and the disenfranchised), championed the causes of economic opportunity, education, and equality among everyone. He was also recognized for his non-violent passive resistance philosophy.


Chicago city boasts of its traditional way of celebrating international communities and their cultures and has a rich and long history of friendship with Indian communities. This friendship goes way back to 1893, when a young philosopher, monk, and author, Swami Vivekananda went to the Columbian Exposition for the World Parliament of Religions.


The Chicago Sister Cities International Delhi Committee


Chicago Sister Cities International is a branch of World Business Chicago that is committed to sharing ideas and building bridges between the city and its international partners and communities. It promotes tourism, international education, cross-cultural arts, global government, and business exchange.


Smita Shah joined the Chicago Sister Cities International and is the Chair of the Delhi Committee. She believes that this is a way of continuing global leadership as well as acknowledging the diversity of the communities in Chicago.


About Smita Shah


Smita Shah serves as the CEO and President of SPAAN Tech, Inc., which she founded in 1998. SPAAN Technology is a technology and a project management company based in Chicago that she started after graduating from Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a master’s in Civil and environmental engineering.


Her company was No. 1821, on the list of’ the 5000 fastest-growing private companies’ posted on Inc. magazine. Over the past decade, SPAAN Tech, Inc. has grown to $10 million in yearly revenue and fifty staff members.


SPAAN Technology is also part of a 14 million dollar joint venture that is planning to design electrical systems for navigation aids and lighting for an upcoming runway, which is scheduled to open in November. 20. The venture is part of the $ 6.6 billion expansion of O’Hare International Airport.


Smita Shah moves easily in many sectors, including political events, construction sites, and community galas. She was an intern in the White House Office of the Chief of Staff after college. Here she was two doors down from the President’s office (President Bill Clinton), and her work entailed filing paperwork and answering phones.


After two years, she was appointed as the youngest delegate by the Illinois Democratic Party during the Democratic National Convention in 1996. Since that time, she has worked at the Platform Committee and Rules Committee at conventions in2004 and 2008. Learn more:


She also sits on the Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s Auxiliary Council and organizes programs for the American Society of Civil Engineers (Illinois chapter. She is the Head of the Delhi Sister Cities International Program.

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Smita Shah Helps Commemorate The Indian Community in Chicago

Smita Shah, born in Chicago but of Indian descent has demonstrated that perseverance and drive can give a woman everything she wants. Smita Shah used her intelligence at an early age. She recalls that while other kids were working on word problems, she was turning them into algebraic equations. Her intense drive led her to pursue a degree in electrical engineering and later an MBA in civil engineering. 


In the mid-1990s Smita Shah founded her own engineering firm in the greater Chicago area. She has since won many awards for her innovative projects including an award by Inc magazine as one of 1,000 top up and coming businesses. 

Over the years she has taken on jobs for the greater Chicago area that promote innovation and growth, and while she is a very dedicated businesswoman, she also takes an interest in her community. 

Smita Shah’s Other Interests

Aside from running her company, Smita Shah also promotes community growth and ethnic collaboration in many ways. One such project is the Annual Legacy of Mahatma Gandhi Luncheon. As the international representative for sister city, Delhi, India, Shah started the luncheon in 2014 as a way to commemorate the efforts made by the Indian American community in Chicago. This yearly luncheon motivates Indian business leaders and offers a memorial for Mahatma Gandhi and his work for human rights in India and his close connections with the United States. 

Mahatma Gandhi Luncheon Receives a Special Proclamation

This year at the luncheon, mayor Lightfoot, a special guest, made a proclamation that October second would be the official Mahatma Gandhi day in Chicago. The pronouncement thrilled Smita Shah as it was a recognition for the Indian community of Chicago, and for the importance, Mahatma Gandhi had for human rights movements throughout the world. This type of commemoration means Chicago is finally recognizing its ethnic communities. 

Smita Shah reflected her pleasure in working with Chicago and seeing that her efforts and those of the Indian community are noted. She says, “It has been an honor for the Indian American community to have this day officially noted. Smita also feels that it is a personal honor to have her work recognized in this way. The idea for the luncheon came about when she was named the international representative for Chicago’s sister city Delhi, India. She mentioned that Chicago is made up of many communities and each should be recognized for its efforts. Learn more:

Smita Shah hopes that this will strengthen the relationship between Delhi, India, and Chicago as well as the Indian community that lives within the city. Through these associations, the Delhi international committee hopes to see more cultural and business exchange relationships. Delhi, India has supported the luncheon through Smita Shah since 2014 and plans on continuing to do so to honor the similarities between Indian Americans and Indians.

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Smita Shah Is Proud To Be A Part Of A Distinguished Group That Is Coming Together To Celebrate A World Icon:

Respected Chicago area engineering businesswoman Smita Shah, the founder and CEO at SPAAN Tech, Inc. and the Chairwoman of Chicago’s Sister Cities Delhi Committee, recently joined Chicago’s distinguished mayor Lori Lightfoot for an an annual luncheon where the two talked about the decision to announce that the 2nd of October will now be known in Chicago as Mahatma Gandhi Day. These two distinguished women were also joined by several other prestigious panel members. These individuals included Senator Dick Durbin and Andrea Zopp. Andrea is the Chief Executive Officer with the organization known as World Business Chicago. For Smita Shah, Chicago has played a major role in her professional life as it is the headquarters for her highly successful engineering firm SPAAN Tech. She takes great pride in being involved in civic activities in the city and is proud to be able to be a part of declaring a day dedicated to the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi.

For her part, Smita Shah has emphasized how proud that she is to be able to be involved with this project to celebrate one of the most important figures of the Twentieth Century. The Smita Shah Chicago connection is strong and she is proud to once again be a part of something that brings a positive attitude to the city that she loves. One of the points that all of these organizers agree on is the fact that Chicago is a city where diversity is celebrated. It is made up of many vibrant communities that have come together to forge a greater whole and the Indian community has always been a big part of that fabric. Being able to celebrate the life of one of India’s most important figures is something that Smita and this entire group of leaders are extremely proud of.

Smita Shah is an entrepreneur who has always been fascinated with fields such as mathematics and engineering. These have been her passions since she was a child and she has spent her professional life putting these passions to great use. She was still in her twenties when she first launched SPAAN Tech and since that time, the respected engineering and construction firm has grown rapidly to become one of its industry’s most respected institutions. The firm has garnered many prestigious contracts over the years that have helped it to establish an impeccable reputation for continuous excellence. The leadership that Smita Shah has provided plays a major role in this success and she is proud of being a leading female with an industry where women have often been underrepresented. Learn more:

Smita Shah is dedicated to community service in Chicago and this has led her to serve on the boards of many leading civic organizations. These organizations include the Museum of Science and Industry, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation, and the Plan Commission of Chicago. Engaging in work that uplifts the Chicago community is something that she is proud of and this is a major reason behind her excitement regarding this recent announcement regarding Mahatma Gandhi.

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Business Expert Maarten de Jeu on Buying Commercial Real Estate

Maarten de Jeu has made a name for himself as a business advisor working with notable Fortune 100 companies and wealthy individuals in the US, Canada, and Europe, and even middling tech companies. One area of expertise is acquiring commercial real estate, covering everything from office space to hotels, industrial sites to apartment buildings. For those looking to invest in such a venture, de Jeu has some tips to get them started.


Commercial real estate is a solid way to diversify an investment portfolio, one that isn’t subjected to the ups and downs of the stock market. This doesn’t mean that risk is taken out of the equation. Like any investment, there’s some tested wisdom that applies when making financial decisions.


The appealing aspect of owning real estate is the ways it can generate revenue, through rent and fees and an increase in the property’s value. Addressing one can influence the other. For example, painting, changing lighting, updating appliances, and modernizing a property through a renovation can increase the property value, allowing the landlord to increase rent and fees or sell the property for a higher price.


It’s important to remember that commercial real estate, much like any other investment opportunity, is a business venture that requires diligence and time to reap any benefits. For this reason, de Jeu says investors need to regard acquiring real estate as a people business. Learn more:


Commercial real estate investors will have to spend time building relationships with other investors, lenders, and other interested parties who may come to an investor’s aid. As properties become more elaborate and expensive, it’ll become clear to any investor that they can’t cover all costs on their own. To get the assistance of other investors they’ll need to build relationships, and they must be rooted in trust.


Investors can grow their professional social networks by attending networking events. Those with the means might be able to host their own. Either way, they’ll have to make the right first impression. De Jeu suggests making a credibility packet, something to hand out to private lenders so an investor can establish their professional bona fides by sharing personal professional information, detailed business plans, testimonials, and other relevant information that will make an investor seem serious about their ventures as well as trustworthy.


Before private investors are willing to trust new players in the local real estate market, de Jeu says that investor has to be well-read on the business. Assessing potential properties is key to making investment decisions. This entails exhaustive research into the property itself, the neighborhood, the market, and all variables that will affect the value of the property. To do this, investors will have to attend more than their fair share of open houses, an opportune time to inspect the property and make note of any repairs that may have to take place once the property is purchased. Or decide to move on to another property as this one may incur too much risk.


However an investor chooses to move forward with a property, de Jeu says it’s typical to remain involved in the development of their acquisition. Making sure incoming tenants are satisfied with their new accommodations, and that the property manager the investor hires is up to the task. While there is still a great deal of risk in this venture, de Jeu believes that the right preparation, financial backing, and planning can, in time, pay off.


About Maarten de Jeu:


Maarten de Jeu is an international business and financial expert and consultant. Graduating first in his class from the University of Oxford, he took his MBA to Aviva plc. After a time as their Director of Strategy and Corporate Development, I went to work for their office in London as an International Strategy Manager. There he caught the attention of TVDK Management Consultants, making professional relationships with industry leaders which lead to the launching of SVM Business Advisory in Chicago in 2012, where de Jeu helps smaller businesses reach the international stage.

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Telehealth is Jack Plotkin’s Vision of the Future

Telehealth has been around for decades in various forms and fashions and is still undergoing revisions and discoveries even now. One man who shepherds this discovery is Jack Plotkin. Plotkin is the Chief Technology Officer of Virtual Health and has made a career out of instigating changes on a company-wide level in terms of mating Technology and Health Care.

Jack PlotkinPlotkin’s road started at Harvard University where he studied economics and computer science. He then took this knowledge and brought it with him to a multitude of corporations and companies where he applied his craft in the retail, health care, and finance industries. Plotkin’s goal was to invoke a transformative environment to harness the power of technology and use its best assets to help the industry that he was working in.

He didn’t rest on his laurels as he decided to take the plunge into entrepreneurship, initially going into digital advertising and online publishing. Plotkin then started up Virtual Health and has helped build the company into what it is today, one of the fastest-growing companies in North America. In that shade of grey where technology and business meet, you’ll find Jack Plotkin there also, searching to find new ways that those two can mix.


Maarten De Jeu Shares What It Takes To Be A Corporate Development Professional

There are companies that are just getting started and that need a leader. Those companies can rely on someone like Maarten De Jeu and the advice that he has to offer. This man is available to coach those who have startups that they are working on and he is also available to those who have companies that they are leading that have been around for some time. This man also offers his advice to individuals who have a lot of money and who are looking to know how they should use that money to find financial prosperity. He knows what it takes to be in his position and he has shared information to help others who want to take on a role similar to his own.


Maarten De Jeu has shared information about what a corporate development professional does so that those interested in working a job like his can know what will be required of them. He has shared that these professionals complete research related to their specific industry. He has shared that these professionals also analyze data and that they figure out what other companies are doing so that they can know what their company should be doing to find success. When one company acquires another, a corporate development professional will work on making sure that the second company is fully integrated with the first. Learn more:


Those who are wondering what types of skills they need to have to be successful as a corporate development professional can learn through what Maarten De Jeu has shared. He has said that such people need to be good at communicating with others. He has shared that these people also need to be able to present information and share it in a way that others will understand. It can be helpful for those people to have a persuasive nature and to be able to get others to agree with them. This man has shared that those who want to be successful when working as a corporate development professional must be confident and they must be able to make decisions.


Maarten De Jeu attended the University of Oxford and did well there. He is a family man who enjoys playing tennis. He is involved in many different associations, including the Economic Club of Chicago and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. This man believes that those who would like to do well as he has should focus on building relationships, being innovative, and staying up to date on all that is going on in the world.

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Sergey Petrossov: Crowdfunding Private Jets

Sergey PetrossovSergey Petrossov started JetSmarter, a company coined the “Uber for private jets,” which has garnered investments from the likes of Jay-Z and the Saudi royal family. Getting bit by the entrepreneurial bug early, Petrossov has been a serial entrepreneur since high school. In high school, he sought to start an import-export company for car rims. Later, as a student at the University of Florida, he became a part of a startup for live chatting, after exposure to computer science. He also co-founded an educational company that sold cloud-based software programs to universities and schools in Russia and Eastern Europe. However, aviation was always his side hobby.

The Outdated Private Jet Operations

After taking a flight with a business partner friend and seeing the extreme inefficiency of booking a private jet, Sergey Petrossov knew things needed to be brought up to modern speed and ease. He noticed that to book within this multi-million dollar industry, still required you to call in and sign physical papers. There wasn’t even an option for a digital form to sign. The process was moving at the speed of a snail, and very archaic for this digital world we live in.

He also noticed how the planes just weren’t being used enough. In most cases, you would only have two or three people on the whole jet, which drove the prices higher than it had to be. His idea was to reverse these issues and operational standards into a “digital fashion with high utilization and a lower cost of entry.”

JetSmarter: The Uber for Private Jets is Born

Sergey PetrossovAlthough JetSmarter is constantly being refined, here’s how it currently works. A JetSmarter app member can choose to pay for and join on a flight that’s already pre-scheduled between popular destinations, or they can book their own jet, to their own specific location, and let members claim seats aboard as they desire.

A member also has access to free flights at the last minute on an empty leg. Members can also choose to fly completely private, without opening their flight up to other members to book, which costs more. His goal is to dominate the premium flying space in the US. Eventually, looking to get jet booking seats down to $500, Sergey Petrossov looks to make his service a worthy option for first-class and business-class travelers.

A Calculated Approach to Female Empowerment Under Smita Shah

A quick glance around the social order of the 21st century world makes one single aspect particularly clear. The role of women in society has extended far outside of the house. There are parts of the world where women lead governments, represent districts, have high wealth, or simply run their own businesses. Women have achieved greater freedom than past generations would have ever dreamed. However, a closer inspection shows the adversity many of these women faced to reach this point. The barriers of centuries of suppression still have their lingering impacts. Smita Shah has spent much of her career challenging social norms in the workplace. During a recent discussion with Premiere Gazette, she shows how attitudes are moving a better direction.


As someone who presently carries the mission of generations of women’s rights activities, Smita Shah has expanded on her past on many occasions. While her fellow female peers were out having fun, she choose to remain inside glued to the books in front of her. Her parents and friends alike were amazed by her math skills. This laid the foundations of what Smita Shah would eventually become. Over the years she won a handful of competition, gained peer recognition, and acquired the self-confidence to trust in her own abilities. In 1998, SPAAN Tech, Inc. was founded on the backbone of her current state. Industry leaders from many corners found themselves keeping an eye on her presence.


While Smita Shah was fortunate enough to live under positive circumstances, many of her fellow women have not been so lucky. In the article, she describes how social limitations are placed on women during their childhood. They are taught to stand aside and let a man handle everything. In addition, they are told to stay put and know their place. While the number of women at the top has risen over the years, their are still many at the bottom who are subjected to distasteful language.


Smita Shah concludes her discussion with a series of tips for women who are able to enter the workforce. The first step is knowing your own skill set. In this industry, co-workers are always looking for any opening to gain an advantage over each industry. Any level of misjudgment could have affect one’s ability to develop strong connections. However, Smita Shah has one tip above all else for her fellow women. She wants them to feel loved and believe in their own potential. Your heart has to be in the game for success to flourish. Learn more:


Between the competitive environment of business and the position of women in the world, the raise to the top will be full of obstacles. However, reaching the summit is worth the journey.

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Jack Plotkin Discusses Telehealth

Jack PlotkinAccording to Jack Plotkin, telehealth has been around for quite some time now but it’s not until recently that technological innovation has made it become more prevalent and widely available. So how has it become more accessible to the average person? Well, for one thing, they now have portable devices than can track your biometrics and wirelessly transmit that data back to the lab for the doctors to analyze. While this does make it much more convenient to receive a diagnosis remotely, there are still a few obstacles to making this type of treatment widely accessible. For one thing, most doctors who do telehealth consultations don’t typically have access to the medical records of the patient whose condition they are currently attempting to diagnose.

As it happens, they’re not the only ones who are dealing with this major setback. Many nursing call centers out there find themselves in this same boat as their access to electronic medical records is limited at best and prohibited at worst. The only way for the system to work is to make this data readily available to those who need it. They’ve already begun working on a new platform that just may rectify the situation. As Jack Plotkin is quick to point out, this new system is known as Virtual Health and it is designed to integrate these EMRs with the rest of the information in their system so the doctors will have all the data they need to diagnose and treat patients.

Jack PlotkinOf course, even if this new platform proves to be successful, there’s one last obstacle left to overcome and this concerns the cost of these consultations. As you can imagine, telehealth does not typically come cheap and it’s not as if any private insurers are lining up to cover this program. It is also not currently covered by Medicare or Medicaid but that’s never stopped us before. Back in the ’50s, the only way to perform telehealth was over the phone and even then it wasn’t particularly effective as doctors were unable to run any tests on them to diagnose it.


The Success of Maarten De Jeu

Maarten de Jeu is an experienced advisor in international strategy who has led successful growth initiatives for several global companies across Europe and the United States. Maarten was educated in the Netherlands and later moved to the United Kingdom where he completed his M. A in Social science. He also had a major in Public Administration and graduated from Leiden University in the year 2001. Maarten continued his education at the University of Oxford where he completed his MBA and graduated in 2005. He gained valuable experience in international corporate strategy from an Amsterdam based company called TVDK Management Consultants. 

Professionally, Maarten brings forth a unique mix of technical knowledge from his extensive international experience with global business networks in North America, Asia, and Europe. His technical skills show a deep understanding of globally accepted institutional and cultural settings. Maarten is an accomplished advisor to several senior executives for major Fortune 100 companies, technological start-ups, and High Net Worth, individuals. He is disciplined and has a thorough decision-making process where he builds capable multidisciplinary cultural teams. Maarten is credited for being the co-founder of the successful technological start-up called Speak-Up, which is the leading publicly listed company across Europe for ethics and compliance solutions. Learn more:

Maarten’s leadership qualities are admired. For instance, he is the founder and managing director of SVM Advisory: a boutique business that consults with potential clients to build partnerships and achieve growth. He advices his clients about the correct strategy, investment, and acquisition for their local and international business solutions. Maarten is famed for providing experts advice in global marketplaces as he holds a prominent position in advising business owners before they venture into new territories. Maarten is committed to offering quality services, respects different cultures, and follows the recommended market conditions. 

Throughout his career, he has developed a culture of success by helping local businesses reach international standards across Europe, Asia, and North America. The success of his businesses is based on the ability to follow the regulations of the ruling governments. For instance, the success of a business depends on paying taxes, especially on imports, exports, and government laws and regulations. His success is also based on valuable business partnerships and investors.

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