Leading Positive Change Through Technology

Leadership and Management Certificate graduate Swapna Savant pushes community good at every step in her career

At the intersection of technology and public good is where you’ll find Swapna Savant thriving. With every step forward in her career, Swapna is making significant, positive change in our world by leveraging her vast experience and knowledge in software engineering.

Her more than 20 years in industry is founded on deep learnings gained after completing her master in computer science from UNC-Charlotte. She’s worked at multinational companies and at startups—in all realms employing large-scale systems and leading high-performing teams. Her career trajectory is all about growth and leveraging technology to solve complex problems. And being a leader—thanks in part to completing our Certificate Program in Leadership and Management—to her teams is key to their combined successes.

In doing so, Swapna continues to focus on important social issues—be it creating more accessible pathways for underrepresented populations or putting a spotlight on the need for mental health support.

When I ask her about an initiative she’s especially proud of, there is no hesitation in her response:

“Inspired by modern sourcing strategies, I helped develop an innovative recruitment platform at one of my previous startups,” Swapna enthuses. “This platform utilized predictive analytics and machine learning to identify candidates' potential next roles based on their unique mix of experiences, akin to the 'Predicted Next Role' strategy from Entelo. By leveraging a broader, more diverse talent pool and identifying underrepresented candidates, we were able to significantly enhance our hiring process and drive diversity within the tech industry. This project not only streamlined our recruitment efforts, but also aligned closely with our mission to break traditional hiring barriers and foster inclusivity.”

From Entelo, Swapna moved into a director of engineering role at Headspace in 2020—a time when mental health was put into stark contrast within a global pandemic. It’s also a time when Swapna wanted to hone her leadership skills and shine.



Related: Mental Health Matters Future of Work Podcast Episode



Tell me about your work at Headspace and how it fits in with your career and passions?

I love software engineering because it's always changing and offers endless opportunities to solve new problems. In my current role, where technology intersects with the crucial area of mental health, we have the opportunity to achieve remarkable things as a society.

By pushing the boundaries, we can make a significant impact on humanity. This field demands creativity and continuous learning, which keeps me engaged and excited about my work every day.

I was drawn to Headspace because of its mission to improve mental health through accessible technology. The opportunity to blend my creative and engineering skills to develop solutions that can have a profound impact on people’s well-being was incredibly compelling. At Headspace, I've been able to work on innovative projects that not only challenge me technically, but also contribute to a greater social good.




The classes were very practical and well-structured. The curriculum was relevant to my work, and the interaction with both the instructors and fellow students was enriching.



And at this time, you started our leadership certificate. What were you looking to achieve?

I wanted to enhance my leadership skills to better support and expand my teams, especially in a fast-growing company like Headspace. The certificate was a step toward learning new strategies for managing diverse teams and improving our workflow.

When I heard about the certificate, I was excited about learning the leadership and management aspects that I was interested in.

The classes were very practical and well-structured. The curriculum was relevant to my work, and the interaction with both the instructors and fellow students was enriching. Everyone was from different backgrounds, which added a lot of value to our discussions and group work. I also appreciated that I could take some electives to learn more about other fields like marketing.

Are there any courses that really stood out for you?

Two courses were particularly influential in my leadership journey.

The Business Negotiating course deepened my understanding of negotiation tactics and strategies, equipping me to handle complex negotiations and conflicts effectively.

The Effective Leadership and Management course provided comprehensive insights into organizational dynamics and leadership styles. This course offered practical strategies for managing diverse teams and enhancing organizational performance, which have been instrumental in my current role.



We had regular group projects and discussion forums, which allowed us to apply our learning in real time and learn from each other's experiences and perspectives.



What was your experience taking online courses?

I completed the entire certificate virtually, which was incredibly convenient as it allowed me to manage my responsibilities at Headspace while studying. The online sections were interactive, and the digital tools we used made learning seamless.

We had regular group projects and discussion forums, which allowed us to apply our learning in real time and learn from each other's experiences and perspectives. This was invaluable for building lasting professional connections.

When you completed the certificate, you had moved up to a senior director of engineering role—congrats! How has the certificate helped you as you continue to progress in your career?

Thanks! My role now involves leading engineering teams to expand our platform for Fortune 500 companies and enterprise partners. It's a dynamic role that requires both technical and management skills.

The lessons I learned from the certificate were immediately applicable. For example, I use new management techniques and leadership strategies that help improve our team dynamics and project outcomes.



Swapna’s Leadership-Development Course List

Effective Leadership and Management: Understanding and Influencing the Dynamics of Organizations

Business Negotiating

Power and Influence in Organizations

Managing Change and Ambiguity in the Workplace

Organizational Communication Strategies for Managers

Marketing Management

Business Communication: Writing and Speaking

Essentials of Business

Talent Management and Workforce Development



What does earning this certificate mean for you personally and professionally?

Earning this certificate means a lot to me. It has given me new tools and confidence to lead more effectively and make a positive impact on my team and our projects. Professionally, it’s a significant addition to my leadership development.

I am considering further specialization in areas like organizational psychology and change management. These are critical areas that can help me better understand team dynamics and foster a positive work environment, especially as our company continues to grow.

And you’re growing outside of Headspace! You are also the founder of adaptUp? Tell me about this initiative.

adaptUp is a community aimed at helping tech professionals transition into new roles. This initiative is part of my passion for increasing diversity and inclusion in tech.

adaptUp is more than just a newsletter and podcast; it's a platform where tech professionals can find mentorship, career advice and resources to navigate their career transitions. The lessons are universally applicable, making it an excellent resource for anyone in tech looking to advance their career.

We meet monthly on a regular basis and talk about specific challenges and topics that the community picks. We help each other through shared knowledge and practical tips.

What advice would you give to a student who is starting the certificate?

Be active in your learning and apply what you learn immediately to your work. This practical application will help you understand the concepts better. Also, take the time to interact with your peers and instructors—networking is key.