Natasha Leghari is a proud AHF Fellow from the Winter 2021 cohort who is a first-year MBA student at the DeGroote School of Business. This Spring she joined AHF as a Content Creation Strategist Intern.  Her prior experience includes working within the higher education sector supporting students in a meaningful way at a pivotal time in their lives. 

She’s always striving to learn, grow and network within the community and give back through volunteerism. Natasha is passionate about helping others and throughout her educational career, she has been an active member of community organizations and associations that advocate or raise awareness for causes she supports. She continues to volunteer in her community and has also recently started a small events business after identifying a gap in intimate events offerings last summer.

Bridging a Health Sciences Background with Business

Prior to her MBA, Natasha pursued a double major in Psychology and Health Policy at the University of Toronto Scarborough. When we asked Natasha about her pivot from health sciences into business, she explained that “[She] was looking for opportunities that will help me use my skills and learnings in a meaningful way. For me it was connecting my background in Psychology and Business, where I can apply my knowledge and skills within marketing, health service management and HR.” 

As Natasha explored careers within Business, she continued to research and considered the following: the industries and organizations she wants to work at, personal areas of strengths and growth, courses/programs that can help her transition while seeking advice consistently from others who have been through similar transitions. In addition to research and exploration, Natasha began taking Project Management and Business Analysis courses to explore her affinity to these topics. “I overall enjoyed the courses which made me consider looking into a business program. This is when I came across the DeGroote School of Business’ program that offers Co-op experience as you complete an MBA.”

Her advice for BIWOC looking to transition from sciences to business is “start by first considering areas of strength, passion and how you can utilize and expand your current skill set within the field of business. I realized I wanted both education and experience, and hence decided to attend DeGroote School of Business for their MBA (co-op) program”.

The Power of Reciprocal Mentorship

Gaining meaningful relationships through mentorship has been an ongoing goal for Natasha in her educational and professional career. Natasha is always looking to offer support when it comes to her peer’s professional development, job search and interview strategies that have helped her succeed and navigate the workplace. In Fall 2020, she decided to apply for AHF’s Fellowship Circle Winter program to learn about experiences within business and tech from the BIWOC community. She saw AHF Fellowship circle as an opportunity to learn more about career trajectories of BIWOC in business and tech, and share similar career aspirations, “I am super grateful to have had the opportunity to be selected.”

“I highly valued the insightful panels, learning labs and mentorship circles where mentors, panelists and educators left no conversations off the table. AHF Fellowship Circle provided a perfect balance between learning and applying concepts  through experiences which are highly necessary for all young women of colour in pursuit of success in their personal and professional lives!” Natasha describes the AHF community as “a community of strong and resilient BIWOC paving the way for all BIWOC through various avenues.”

Navigating School, Internships and Life through the Pandemic

“The pandemic has impacted my experience as a student as well as others who are pursuing further studies,” Natasha explains. Shifting to an online learning model has been a learning curve, involving a great amount of self-discipline which Natasha is still in the process of mastering. Some things that have helped Natasha in avoiding isolation include “continuing to stay active within the community by attending virtual events, volunteering remotely, and joining the AHF Fellowship Circle which provided a community of BIWOC where we could openly talk about our challenges and experiences especially in a pandemic. This experience was also a great opportunity for me to learn about careers within Business and tech and how an MBA could pave the way.”

After graduating from AHF Fellowship Circle and returning from her Co-op at Empathy Inc, Natasha maximized her virtual experience by gaining an internship as AHF’s Content Creation Strategist through Riipen’s Level Up program. “After completing the AHF Fellowship Circle, the internship was a great transition to learn more about the behind the scenes of a social purpose organization. AHF has proven to be a great place to work where all ideas and contributions are welcome. The team is extremely supportive, ready to offer constructive feedback and overall root for my success within AHF and beyond.” The internship has provided Natasha the means to learn more about her privilege within the community, BIWOC experiences in reports and research, and amplifying the voices of mentors and fellows through weekly blog posts.

What gives Natasha hope for the future is the drive and resilience of BIWOC women to learn, educate and change the existing narratives of women of colour in business and technology. “Various organizations are recognizing the disparity and lack of representation of BIWOC. Organizations like AHF are ways to well equip BIWOC to advocate for the BIWOC community and bring about change at all levels of leadership in business and tech.”