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40 Under 40 - Class of 2021
Business Observer Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021 2 weeks ago

Devanshu "Dev" Swaly, 39

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Warren Averett LLC, senior manager
by: Louis Llovio Commercial Real Estate Editor

Devanshu “Dev” Swaly

39

Senior Manager, Warren Averett LLC

The story of how Dev Swaly got to Tampa is quicker to tell than the one about how he got to the United States.

Swaly was living in Orlando and working in banking when he decided to apply to graduate schools to get his MBA. He sent in applications to three universities and the first one to get back to him was the University of Tampa. His first choice was the University of Central Florida in Orlando, and he called the school to see if he could get an answer — only to find out they’d lost his transcripts.

“We count this as a blessing, we never expected it, My dad, for what he’s done through his life, he put us here. Kudos to him, and my mom too.” Dev Swaly

Meanwhile, he’d come to Tampa for the first time, toured the campus and learned he was being offered a full scholarship with a stipend.

He thought about waiting to see what the other universities would say, but as someone with an eye on finance, he knew a good deal when he saw one. “I was like, you know, this was probably meant to be, and the hospitality I got at UT and the offer, it was too good for me to pass up,” Swaly says.

“Long story short, that’s how I wound up in Tampa."

That was 18 years ago and today Swaly, 39, is a senior manager at the accounting firm Warren Averett. Tampa is home, the place where his two children are growing up.

But a part of his heart is still in Kenya.

And that’s the longer part of the story. Swaly was born and raised in Kenya, the son of Indian parents who’d migrated to Africa.

His move to the U.S. and then to Tampa are the result of the example and the desire of his father.

Swaly’s father was born in abject poverty in India, in a home without plumbing and where kids didn’t own shoes.

Not one to be held down, his father was the first member of the family to get an education and as the eldest, he took care of his siblings. He eventually worked his way to Nairobi thanks to a paternal uncle living in Kenya who offered him work as an accountant.

Swaly's father’s goal was to send his sons to study abroad — his older brother came to Florida first and now lives in London.

“We count this as a blessing we never expected,” Swaly says. “My dad, for what he’s done through his life, he put us here. Kudos to him, and my mom too.”

To make sure his own two children don’t forget their roots and get the perspective he has, Swaly and his wife, who he met in high school in Kenya, visit home every couple of years. “They see the difference between how they live and how we used to live. And I say, ‘You should really appreciate life and what you have here.”

Birthplace: Nairobi, Kenya

Years in the area: 18

Marital Status/Children: Married with two Children

Alma Mater/Degree: University of Tampa MBA in Finance and Master of Science in Accounting

What community group or organization are you most involved with? Indo-US Chamber of Commerce and Propeller Club of Tampa Bay

What's the weirdest job you've ever had? Late night canteen helper/chef while I was in school

What's your top tip for being productive? Having a passion for what you do and surrounding yourself around with like minded people

If you could have a side hustle, what would it be? Buying and selling cars

What's your favorite off-hours activity? Visiting theme parks, watching formula one, WRC rally

Have you gone to the movies in 2021? If yes, what did you see? Yes, saw a few. The kids rules the house so Black Widow, Raya and the Last Dragon and Jungle Cruise

What's the top item on your bucket list? Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. I was born and raised in Kenya and have climbed Mt. Kenya.

What's your favorite podcast? The Wrap by Warren Averett

Where is your happy place? In Nature, usually on a game reserve when I go home or on a cruise where there is no internet. 

Describe yourself in three words: Driven, Passionate and Innovative

Who is your mentor for your career and why? My dad and equally my mum. Without their sacrifices I would not be here today.

What are the biggest lessons you have learned from your mentor? 1. Always be humble and don't forget where you came from.

2. Respect and treat everyone nicely just like the way you would like to be treated. 3. Don't judge anyone by how they look or how much money they have but rather look at their character.

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