Aarushi Das (SFS’15, MSF’18) Blends Global Perspective with Business Principles To Support Underserved Markets
Aarushi Das (SFS’15, MSF’18) is blending principles she learned at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business to support inclusive investments into sustainable minority-owned businesses at Siebert Williams Shank & Co. (SWS) Capital Management.
Das was drawn to the international influence of Washington, D.C., and the academic offerings of Georgetown University. She began her time at Georgetown in 2011 as an undergraduate with the Walsh School of Foreign Service (SFS), and as a first-year student, she pursued a career in policy and finance as an intern with the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
“I was so appreciative that I found a place where I could marry both my policy and finance interests as a student,” Das said. “This is really where the seed was planted in my mind that I could focus on both economics and finance in my career.”
During her time as an undergraduate, Das took advantage of every opportunity Georgetown had to offer. She spent her sophomore summer in Ecuador taking a race, gender, and ethnicity course for three months. She also hopped across the pond to spend her junior year studying philosophy, politics, and economics at the University of Oxford where she joined the Oxford Microfinance Initiative.
“I spent some of my time at Oxford working with a microfinance organization in Ghana. It was a virtual eight-month project with one month of fieldwork in Takoradi that was so helpful from a learning perspective,” Das said. “My time spent abroad is such a big part of my life story.”
Das was born in India and lived in London before settling in the United States. When choosing a university, she identified a location where she could continue pursuing international opportunities and develop her global mindset. Situated in the global capital city of Washington, D.C., Georgetown was an easy choice that aligned with her academic pursuits.
“When I was moving around as a kid, I was curious about how different countries work together,” Das said. “I wanted to go to a place where I was able to not only learn academically how different countries work together, but also practically.”
Following her graduation from SFS, Das accepted a full-time position with the U.S. Department of the Treasury. After almost two years supporting the International Banking and Securities Markets at the Department of the Treasury, Das decided to pursue her Master of Science in Finance (MSF) at Georgetown McDonough.
“I think we’re really fortunate at Georgetown to have the opportunity to work while studying, so I earned my MSF degree alongside a full-time job at the U.S. Treasury,” Das said. “And while challenging, I think there are very few programs in the United States that would’ve allowed me the same opportunity at such a high-caliber program.”
At the start of Das’ second year with McDonough, she also began a new job at the Milken Institute Center for Financial Markets in Washington, D.C., where she broadened her perspective of financial markets as both a professional and student.
“The great thing about Washington, D.C., is that there are so many different sectors to experience, try out, and broaden your perspective,” Das said.
While working at the Milken Institute, Das was able to thoughtfully curate the coursework for her MSF program to align with her short- and long-term career goals at the institute.
“I went to the social sector to approach policy from a different angle than the public sector, and my Master’s in Finance allowed me to continue quantitatively pursuing my interest,” Das said. “McDonough gave me a very holistic view, and I think my communications gained more rigor in their thinking as a result.”
Upon graduating from the MSF program, Das took her education and experiences to Wall Street working at Siebert Williams Shank & Co. as an investment banking associate.
“I thought going to Wall Street would be a very intense work environment, where I could level up and learn in a different way,” Das said. “But the reason I was interested in municipal finance was because I wasn’t willing to fully let go of my desire to work for the public good.”
Das joined Siebert Williams Shank & Co., a woman- and minority-owned non-bank financial services firm in 2019. As an associate, she provided banking, credit, quantitative, and marketing support for municipal issuers in the Mid-Atlantic region.
In 2021, she transitioned to SWS Capital Management as a vice president to lead the impact management and strategy of the newly founded Clear Vision Impact Fund. The Clear Vision Impact Fund makes debt investments in sustainable minority-owned businesses, businesses that work in underserved markets, or businesses that foster inclusive growth.
“Having the opportunity to join from the start has been an incredible way to partake in an entrepreneurial startup within such an established, accredited institution,” Das said. “The flexibility and creativity we have been able to have has been critical, especially when it comes to developing the inaugural impact strategy and portfolio management processes – both of which are areas I primarily focus on.”
Das continues to combine her knowledge of policy and finance with her passion for driving a mission she fully supports.
“We’re just beginning to scratch the surface of what we can do here. Whenever you start something new, the first year or so is focused on learning and systems building,” Das said. “I’m happy to say we are starting to cross the bridge into how we can maximize impact both financially and socially for our portfolio companies.”
When asked where she sees herself in the next five or 10 years, Das confidently says she doesn’t know. She hasn’t followed a blueprint or map throughout her career, and she instead follows the best learning opportunities that offer support, growth, and mentorship, and she recommends the same to any student or professional.
“You have to react in the moment,” Das said. “Sometimes you get so caught up in premeditated plans that you forget to take advantage of what you have right in front of you. You can’t predict the future, so you really have to follow your instincts.”