By Bahaar Bhatia
For students entering the professional world, there are a great number of things that are unfamiliar, and the prospect of building a quality professional network can be daunting. Your career can be seen as a jungle that is hard to walk through successfully alone. To kick off the Soft Skills Speaker Series, Jinal Shah, Class XIX alum, led a workshop on “Building Professional Networks” where he challenged us all to think about how to build a professional network effectively.
Upon graduation, Jinal Shah worked in strategy consulting at Accenture for 2.5 years before joining CVS Health in 2018. Jinal initially began his journey at CVS Health when someone reached out to Shah via LinkedIn about an innovation-driven role at the company. Because Shah is very passionate about making a direct impact in healthcare, he decided to take the opportunity.
He currently serves as a Director of Product Innovation at CVS and is developing initiatives to provide better healthcare access to aid individuals with chronic conditions. His current role is unique as it focuses on product innovation and the team he manages coordinates with multiple cross stakeholders like the legal team, data scientists, and pharmacists, and doctors. According to Shah, product innovation means to develop something, test it, and build it to meet a specific need. Thus, his responsibilities go beyond ideation or the first step of the innovation process as his role encompasses getting products ready for launch and to the market. As someone who has always valued giving back to the community, he finds that this role suits him and his goals.
However, Jinal believes that a career is not the only way to pursue one’s ambitions! While not working, Jinal can be found coaching high schoolers on critical thinking or hosting T&M workshops! Jinal was also striving to make a difference for the community during his time at UIUC as he founded Prime and was heavily involved in Enactus.
Going forward, one of his goals is to further his involvement in the community: he hopes to position himself as a healthcare executive to make policy decisions to impact low income and rural communities.
As he reflects on his career and collegiate experiences, Shah finds his favorite memory in the T&M program to be the Immersion trip to China as it made the class grow closer to one another. He also mentioned that climbing the Great Wall of China was truly an unforgettable experience! Shah’s main advice for current T&M students is to learn a fun skill (through intramural sports, dance club, etc.) along with pursuing professional goals throughout college! So grow your professional network but also remember to focus on yourself!
Bahaar is currently in T&M Class XXV and is a rising senior in Information Systems and Marketing.