Maya Shankar

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Global Director of Behavioral Economics, Google

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    Maya Shankar: Biography at a Glance

    • Maya Shankar is a cognitive scientist who currently serves as Google’s Global Director of Behavioral Economics.
    • Maya is the Creator, Host, and Executive Producer of Pushkin's A Slight Change of Plans podcast where she uncovers little-known personal stories and reflections from familiar names like Hillary Clinton, Tiffany Haddish, and Kacey Musgraves.
    • A Slight Change of Plans was named Show of the Year by Apple Podcasts in 2021.
    • She formerly served as a Senior Advisor in the Obama White House, where she founded and served as Chair of the White House's Behavioral Science Team — a team of scientists charged with improving public policy using research insights about human behavior.
    • She has also been profiled by the New Yorker and has been featured in the New York Times, Scientific American, Forbes, and on NPR's All Things Considered, Freakonomics, and Hidden Brain.
    • Maya completed a post-doctoral fellowship in cognitive neuroscience at Stanford, after receiving a Ph.D. from Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship and a B.A. from Yale in cognitive science. 
    • She is a graduate of the Juilliard School of Music's pre-college division and is a former private violin student of Itzhak Perlman.

    Videos

    Biography

    Maya Shankar is a cognitive scientist who currently serves as Google’s Global Director of Behavioral Economics. She is also the Creator, Executive Producer, and host of the Pushkin Show, A Slight Change of Plans, which was named Apple Podcasts' Best Show of the Year. In the show, Maya leads intimate conversations that give an unvarnished look into how people navigate changes and ultimately grow. She has uncovered little-known personal stories and reflections from familiar names like Hillary Clinton, Tiffany Haddish, and Kacey Musgraves. 

    Maya was previously a Senior Advisor in the Obama White House, where she founded and served as Chair of the White House Behavioral Science Team — a team of scientists charged with improving public policy using research insights about human behavior. She also served as the first Behavioral Science Advisor to the United Nations under Ban Ki-moon, and as a core member of Pete Buttigieg’s debate preparation team during his 2020 presidential run. Maya has a postdoctoral fellowship in cognitive neuroscience from Stanford, a Ph.D. from Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship, and a B.A. from Yale.

    She has been profiled by The New Yorker and been the featured guest on NPR's All Things Considered, Freakonomics, and Hidden Brain. She's a graduate of the Juilliard School of Music's pre-college program, where she was a private violin student of Itzhak Perlman and performed alongside him at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall.

    Topics

    From the White House to Google: How to Improve Decision-Making at Scalearrow-down

    When it comes to taking care of our health, finances, or emotions, we often make decisions and behave in ways that run counter to what intuition would suggest. Looking closely at what underlies these types of behaviors, Dr. Shankar shares knowledge of how even small changes in the way we design programs, products, and policies can motivate better choices, improve individual wellness, and impact other fundamental measures of happiness and health.

    A Slight Change of Plans: The Science of Harnessing Disruptionarrow-down

    There are few things in life that are as complex and messy—and potentially magical—as change. Once a concert violinist studying under Itzhak Perlman and the Juilliard School of Music, a career-ending injury instantly closed the doors that Maya had worked for years to open.

    Inspired by her own experience, Dr. Shankar went on to study the science of change – ultimately leading Behavioral Science teams at the White House and Google. Now host of the podcast, A Slight Change of Plans, Maya explores how the world’s luminaries navigate change in their own lives.

    Audiences will learn how to skillfully embrace inflection points in their own lives, as Dr. Shankar reveals behavioral insights that can lead to powerful transformation.

    The Future of Work

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