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Friday, March 20, 2015

EDITOR OF CONDÉ NAST TRAVELLER TO SPEAK AT PITT-BRADFORD COMMENCEMENT

Divia Thani Daswani
BRADFORD, Pa. -- Divia Thani Daswani, a University of Pittsburgh at Bradford alumna who launched India’s leading luxury travel magazine, Condé Nast Traveller, and serves as its editor-in-chief, will be the keynote speaker at the 2015 Commencement ceremony in April.

In addition to delivering the keynote address during commencement exercises on April 26, Thani, who graduated in 2001, will receive the Pitt-Bradford Alumni Association’s Alumni Award of Distinction.

“All of us at Pitt-Bradford look forward to welcoming back to campus one of our most distinguished former students,” said Dr. Livingston Alexander, president of the Pitt-Bradford campus. “She epitomizes in so many ways the ideals we hope all of our students will reflect in their lives and work. I’m confident the message she delivers to our graduates will impact their lives in a powerful way.”

An Indian citizen with global exposure, Thani has been part of the core teams to launch five international magazines in India. Thani launched Condé Nast Traveller in 2010 after serving three years as features editor for Vogue India.

Condé Nast Traveller is the world’s most renowned luxury travel magazine. Founded in the United States in 1987, it now has eight separate international editions, including the United Kingdom, India, China and Russia. Condé Nast Traveller has expanded its global footprint via not only its glossy print magazines (which include Vogue, GQ, Vanity Fair and New Yorker), but also digitally, with websites, apps, video, events and through social media.

In addition to managing the daily operations of the print magazine, she oversees content creation across multiple digital platforms, including a website, apps, social media, and advertising communications and events.

Her duties include chairing and mediating industry forums and conferences around the world, including the International Luxury Travel Markets in Cannes, France; Cape Town, South Africa; and Shanghai, China. She also shares insights on the Indian travel market on CNN, Bloomberg and CNBC and helps customers and clients strategize to capitalize on, and cater to, this booming demographic. Thani advises various state tourism boards and aviation and hospitality experts in understanding the Indian luxury traveler.

“In a very short period of time, Divia Thani has established herself as one of the hottest young magazine editors in India, and one of the foremost travel editors-in-chief in the world,” said Nicholas Coleridge, president of Condé Nast International. “She manages to combine three rare gifts -- a deep understanding of quality travel journalism, an acute eye for magazine and digital design, and she is an accomplished public speaker. Furthermore, she is a charismatic and always glamorous big player in the world she inhabits.”

In 2012, Thani was an inaugural recipient of the Sheth International Young Alumni Achievement Award, which recognizes members of the University of Pittsburgh alumni community for their contributions to the international community through their professional achievements and impact on society.

At Pitt-Bradford, she studied English, studied abroad in London during 1998 and received the Robert C. Laing Award for Creative Writing before graduating summa cum laude.

Magazine work wasn’t on her agenda when she graduated. She next attended the Honors College at the University of Pittsburgh’s Oakland campus, where she took further undergraduate courses with the help of a prestigious Brackenridge Fellowship while working in public relations for a tech startup in Pittsburgh.

Following her work in Pittsburgh, Thani worked in New York before returning to India in the summer of 2001, working as part of a research team that was documenting a folk festival. She thought she would spend the summer nearer to family and old friends, then return to New York in the fall. But just as she was finishing up her work in India, the attacks of Sept. 11 took place.

“That changed basically the whole world’s plans,” she said, including hers. She remained in India to assuage her family’s fears. Hearing of a media company that had just earned the rights to bring a French fashion magazine to India, she applied for a job and was hired as a writer for L’Officiel. Later, she switched to sales, and when the holding company for L’Officiel bought the rights to bring Seventeen magazine to India, she was made the head of sales at the age of 22.

Following that, she moved on to Time Out Mumbai, and then to Vogue, where she led the features department of the Indian version from 2007 until launching Traveller in 2010.

Dr. S.N. Gajanan, professor of economics at Pitt-Bradford, nominated Thani for the PBAA award.

“She is a superstar in the international arena and is an example of what the best from Pitt can achieve,” Gajanan said. “Awarding this honor to Divia will add to the PBAA Alumni Award of Distinction’s intrinsic merit.”

Alumni previously honored with the Alumni Award of Distinction are Richard Johnson ’88-’90, Tamra Minner ’81, Dr. Lee Colosimo ’65-’67 and Dr. Jill Owens ’93.