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“Confidence is key ” with Heena Shah and Fotis Georgiadis

Confidence is key in leadership. By giving my team autonomy and challenging them to leave their comfort zone, I find they are increasingly innovative, creative and passionate about Valani. Seeing them flourish, gives me immense joy. As a part of my series about strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Heena Shah of […]

Confidence is key in leadership. By giving my team autonomy and challenging them to leave their comfort zone, I find they are increasingly innovative, creative and passionate about Valani. Seeing them flourish, gives me immense joy.

As a part of my series about strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Heena Shah of Valani Atelier. Heena’s evolution as a designer is a story of a modern woman striving for excellence in every aspect of her life. From her pursuits in the art of sculpture to her early career in industrial engineering in consulting and at Google, Heena has found herself alongside equally confident and ambitious women, bold but never anything less than themselves.Trained at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), Heena became the youngest jewelry designer to win six prestigious AGTA Spectrum awards, including in the Platinum Guild (PGI) and Women’s Jewelry Association (WJA) categories. Valani’s legacy of deeply rooted connections to families in the gem world gave her a first-hand education in gemstones. Meeting mine operators in Brazil, gold experts in Italy, and master gem polishers in Thailand, she discovered a love for precious gemstones.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

“All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost” J. R. R. Tolkien

Not all paths are planned, I was mesmerized by the specialty of stones my (Valani) family had developed an expertise in, on a trip to Brazil visiting mines situated in the countryside of Mina Gerais. Seeing them take rough gemstone from the miners hands, study it, then work with artisans to cut and polish it to perfection was remarkable. What started as a passion for design and an interest in creating pieces that brought gemstones to forefront, became a career, and snowballed into the role of creative director of Valani.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Every colored gemstone is unique. Unlike diamonds with their GIA grading, there are no generalized classifications that exist in emeralds, rubies, and sapphires. Valani’s passion for gemstones sets us apart from the masses, it makes designing for each individual piece much more technically challenging and so much more intriguing. Today’s woman showcases her individuality through color gemstones she can buy for herself.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I always dreamed of using contemporary design to elevate artisans in developing countries. Collaborating with people around the world to create incredibly rich pieces in a sustainable way that is equitable and uses materials responsibly has been the most exciting project we have recently embarked on.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

Confidence is key in leadership. By giving my team autonomy and challenging them to leave their comfort zone, I find they are increasingly innovative, creative and passionate about Valani. Seeing them flourish, gives me immense joy.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

1) Stop over-preparing — no product, website, or team will be perfect in the beginning. Be willing to listen, learn and grow along the way.

2) Give your team a sense of purpose, by showing them why they matter and how they contribute to the whole.

3) Focus on a few things that really matter and where you can make a difference.

4) Be Genuine and Authentic about what you believe in

5) Learning is a competitive advantage, and the most effective leaders dedicate time to learn.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Success is 10%inspiration and 90% perspiration.” Thomas Edison

Thank you for all of these great insights!

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