Senior Analyst and sustainable living advocate, Aromi Salot is a true representation of the mixing pot of ideas, backgrounds and experiences that shape the GIST team. On what marks her 2nd anniversary at GIST, Aromi talks to us about how her direct experience of the world's unsustainable trajectory, combined with her time living in one of the world's first sustainable communities, helped shape her as a professional and ultimately led to the cutting-edge work she does today.
Growing up close to the beach in heaving Mumbai, Aromi experienced first-hand how our natural environment is changing at the hands of human pollution. With her local area becoming increasingly littered and only localised and temporary clean-up solutions being proposed, Aromi realised she needed to learn more about what was happening so she could find a way to contribute to real progress. As she puts it, “That experience showed me that I wanted to solve real-world problems and find innovative solutions to the issues I saw around me.”
It is this attitude, an attitude that tells her she needs to take action while the rest of the world is still waking up, that led Aromi to study Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois. Her education was fulfilling, but ultimately it led to a hunger for even more big picture awareness: “A lot of what I was learning was technical engineering for specific solutions, so after graduating I knew I wanted expand my knowledge even further and continue to expand my 'big picture' awareness of sustainability issues and systems.”
Following her quest for driving impact, Aromi decided to move back to Mumbai after graduation and joined the sustainable living community and experimental township, Auroville. Auroville is described by Aromi as “India’s first eco-village”. Based around the principles of sustainable living, Auroville is not only a spiritual haven, but a place for innovation and curiosity to flourish.
At Auroville, Aromi found somewhere she could develop her professional journey and she spent her time working on developing ‘Impactwala’ - an ethical product rating system for consumer good products. It was this experience that enabled Aromi to connect with her calling in research and analytics based work.
Two years later, Aromi fought to procure herself a position in a research project at the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology, securing her place alongside some of the greatest up and coming minds in tech. It was here that she heard about an exciting organisation working at the intersection of sustainability, big data analytics and intelligent computing: GIST.
Aromi vehemently believes that data analysis and software solutions will shift the dial on sustainability and help ensure we solve the increasing threats our planet and societies are facing. At GIST, she found a home where she could turn this belief into action.
When joining GIST in February 2019, Aromi was excited to find herself part of an extremely technically diverse team of high-level thinkers, from fellow engineers to programmers, analysts, economists and more. What Aromi realised was that GIST is a melting pot of ideas and innovation and that the work, being so cutting-edge, required a diverse group of entrepreneurial thinkers. She very quickly became a key part of the team and her inquisitive and pioneering spirit led her to a position where she was developing coding for automating GIST’s data crawling, as well as helping develop GIST’s base framework and imputation methodologies.
Today, Aromi is a key member of GIST’s data analytics team and helps ensure GIST’s portfolio analysis for Investor clients runs smoothly. Her favourite part of her work is the challenge that developing cutting-edge solutions provides, “As everything we do at GIST is brand new, there are no templates for developing our solutions. Therefore the process involves a lot of trial and error and working together as a team to solve often complex challenges.”
Feeding and stretching her curious and resilient nature, start-up life provides Aromi with the fuel she needs to make a difference.
The biggest satisfaction Aromi gets from her work is the idea of the impact she hopes to create, “As our founder, Pavan, always says, you cannot manage what you do not measure. Our product is calculating externalities and, since the COVID-19 pandemic began, I am increasingly noticing that there are hidden costs to everything. Costs that have never been calculated or internalised before. Corporations need to understand the positive and negative consequences of their impacts and investors need to keep them accountable. How would you know what those are, and how to change, if you don’t measure them.”
Aromi’s journey is far from done, “I will keep fighting, both professionally and personally, to make sure the next generation have something to look forward to. It’s time for the world to wake up, come together and take action. The best time to do so was 40 years ago, the second best time is now.”