Women of Influence

Nivedita Samanta, B.A.’09

Deputy Manager, Vodafone Foundation in India

Passionate About Philanthropy

By Carol Olechowski

Nivedita Samanta

Nivedita Samanta prepares to add her handprint to a mural at the Vodafone Foundation’s World of Difference.

As a University at Albany undergraduate, Nivedita Samanta remembers “making up my mind to follow my instincts and work in a field that I am passionate about.” That determination has led her to embrace her work with the Vodafone Foundation in India, “the philanthropic arm of Vodafone, the world’s leading telecommunications company.”

The foundation, Samanta explains, “recognizes the power of mobile technology to address some of the country’s most pressing challenges relating to education, health, equality and access. We are committed to enable people and technology to drive innovation, disseminate knowledge, and create shared value to improve lives.

“Leveraging our mobile technology on behalf of women, education, health and agriculture, we partner with key charities, development agencies and the community to drive social change on a large scale in India. As part of our social-investment program, the Vodafone Foundation in India also focuses on disaster relief and implements the World of Difference, a unique employee-engagement program. I love every minute of my job!”

UAlbany provided a foundation that has served Samanta well in her work. “I immensely enjoyed the interactions with students from diverse cultures and with the faculty. Each class added learning experiences and inculcated independence, time management, attention to detail and superior knowledge in economics. These interactions helped me to hone my natural talents for conversation, making friends easily, and working under tight timelines while maintaining a calm demeanor,” says Samanta, 27.

Ironically, she learned about UAlbany in 2006 while enrolled at a university in her native India. A desire for “a greater academic challenge and a more holistic education” led Samanta to consult her paternal uncle, who resides in Massachusetts. “Uncle Chanchal encouraged me to consider a transfer to a U.S.-based university that would meet my expectations for a well-rounded education and the much-needed international experience to excel at anything I wanted to do.”

A subsequent meeting with the University’s chief international admissions officer, John Pomeroy, at a foreign-education fair in New Delhi convinced Samanta that she would be happy at UAlbany. The credits transferred from India placed her as a junior economics major with a business-administration minor. Samanta particularly enjoyed her classes with Associate Professor of East Asian Studies Mark Blum, as well as the survey course Art, Music, and History: A Multimedia Approach. She volunteered with the University’s Office of International Studies; joined Tau Sigma, the honor society for transfer students; and worked at the Colonial Quad dining hall.

After earning her degree, Samanta returned to India to work for the British charity the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. She joined the Vodafone Foundation in 2012.