By Ann Gill (M.A., ’76)
Darshan Shah has had extraordinary success in his career. In addition, starting as a student and continuing as an alumnus, he has played a central role in making CSU a more welcoming place for international students as well as participated in other CSU initiatives.
Growing up in Denver and Boulder, Shah decided he wanted to study electrical engineering. He assumed he would attend the University of Colorado, where his high school pals planned to go. However, Shah’s father, who had emigrated from India in the 1960s, convince him that CSU had the superior program and renowned professors in that area. Becoming a Ram was a decision he never regretted.
Shah pledged Triangle Fraternity, where he served in a variety of roles, including vice president, IFC representative, rush chair, and philanthropy chair. This level of service to CSU organizations has continued throughout his life.
Also a constant since his undergraduate years is his love of CSU football and basketball. He has attended 11 of CSU’s 16 bowl games in the last 33 years. In 1990, he attended the NCAA basketball tournament in Long Beach and, that same year, the Freedom Bowl in Anaheim, where the second-level stands “literally were shaking as though there was an earthquake!”
Shah started his career in research and development for Hewlett Packard, followed by a position in product management for a semiconductor company in San Diego. During this time, he also earned an M.B.A., with an entrepreneurial focus. He entered a business plan competition, placing in the top four. Based on the praise that plan received, he and fellow co-founders launched Olixir Technologies in 2002. The company developed patented technology and products in the data storage space. Shah’s initial position at Olixir was chief product officer; he generated the initial revenue stream.
A few years later, he became president of Olixir and grew a global customer base after pivoting the company into the government market. He stayed with Olixir for 19 years, following which he joined Gigamon, a leader in the networking, cloud, and cyber-security space. He currently leads product marketing efforts for the public sector as well as launched Gigamon’s first ROI calculator.
He remains an extraordinarily involved and loyal alumnus. A Life Member of the Alumni Association, he served on its board of directors from 2007-13 and as president in 2012-13. Among his many accomplishments was playing a main role in transitioning the scope of alumni engagement from regional to national to global. He and fellow board members Joe Bohling (B.A. ’90), Kyle Funakoshi (B.A., ’96; M.S., ’99), Jack Capp (B.S., ’65; M.S. ’67), and Ginny Teel (B.S., ’70) co-founded the International Alumni Engagement Committee (IAEC), which began by focusing on “how to plant the seeds of alumni engagement with international students,” a growing CSU population at the time.
Among the programs started by this group was Football 101, which continues today. It teaches international students about football rules and CSU traditions. Shah says the first Football 101 instructor was “CSU icon Gary Ozzello.” More recently, Albert Bimper (B.S., ’06), vice president of diversity and inclusion, became instructor. The program has been featured on NPR, television, and in publications. It received the national CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education) Gold Award. The IAEC also was a driving force behind creating the Distinguish International Alumni Award program and successfully recruiting the first alum from abroad to the board, Hyo-Seop Woo (Ph.D., ’85).
Shah also was a member of the on-campus stadium feasibility committee, which was part of the groundwork for Canvas Stadium, where the Iris & Michael Smith Alumni Center is located. As he explains, “it was a game changer for the Alumni Association to get a first-class alumni center as part of the stadium.”
Shah has made it back to Fort Collins for Ram football games each year, until COVID changed everyone’s plans. He is anxious to return to Canvas with his wife Menal and their son Zayden, where he holds season tickets next to those of Joel Cantalamessa (B.A., ’95), CEO of RamNation. Shah explains: “It feels like a large family reunion whenever Menal and I attend a CSU event!”