Meet Priti Gujadhur! She is a passionate and innovative leader who cares about accelerating the Canadian startup and innovation economy. She also happens to be an AHF Fellow who participated in the Winter Fellowship Circle. 

Priti is the Partner Strategy and Product Development Coordinator at MaRS Discovery District where she works to drive meaningful customer adoption for ventures through a comprehensive suite of offerings for medium and large corporate and government partners. She also sits on the Women in Sport and Entertainment, Toronto Chapter’s board as a committee member. Priti holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Masters of Arts in International Relations from McMaster University where she also competed and captained the varsity tennis team, winning the Most Valuable Player in her final year. She also holds a post-graduate certificate in Sports Business Management from Humber College.

Priti is committed to her professional and personal growth and has found mentorship as one important avenue to learn from others’ experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives. Priti was inspired to apply for AHF’s Fellowship Circle to network with other women of colour as she found that she was missing this element in her network – the opportunity to meet other women of colour at all stages of their careers.

Priti currently works to drive meaningful customer adoption for ventures through comprehensive offerings for medium and large corporate partners and government institutions at MaRS Discovery District. She holds an Honours, Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Master of Arts in International Relations from McMaster University where she competed and captained the varsity tennis team, winning MVP in her final year. She also holds a post-Graduate certificate in Sport Business Management from Humber College. Aside from work, you can catch her on the tennis court, running around the city, watching Hell’s Kitchen snippets, or reading books featured on GatesNotes.

Tell us how you transitioned from Sports Business Management to the work you currently do in innovation and partnerships?

During my undergraduate and graduate studies at McMaster University, I competed as a varsity athlete on the women’s tennis team. Having grown up as a competitive athlete and avid sports fan I believed that pursuing a career in sport business was a natural transition. I had the privilege to work at some of Canada’s largest sports organizations such as the Canadian Olympic Committee, the Toronto Blue Jays and MLSE. While I absolutely enjoyed my tenure at these organizations, I began to reflect upon my educational expertise, lived experiences and personal values during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and spotlight on the Black Lives Matter movement. I felt an urgency to get involved in more meaningful work on a macro-level due to the exacerbated inequalities facing individuals during COVID-19 and BLM based upon race, gender, education, geographic location to name a few. These paramount, unignorable events enabled me to reevaluate where I want to take my career and where I should concentrate my efforts to make a difference in the world.

“During this pivotal time in society, I took my transferable skills from the entertainment industry and now put them to use to accelerate the Canadian innovation economy.”

During this pivotal time in society, I took my transferable skills from the entertainment industry and now put them to use to accelerate the Canadian innovation economy. I currently work to drive meaningful customer adoption for science and tech ventures through comprehensive offerings for medium and large corporate partners and government institutions at MaRS Discovery District. These ventures are tackling some of society’s greatest challenges that have the potential to strengthen the Canadian economy and change the world.  

How do you invest in your own potential as a woman of colour?

I invest in my own potential through a variety of avenues. Firstly, I was able to invest in myself through higher education, which is something I am truly grateful for. Informally, I love to learn through reading business and non-fiction books. I find that through reading books about leadership on renowned individuals I am always able to learn something that I can apply to my life. I also invest in my potential through networking, mentoring, and volunteering. I often reach out to people on Linkedin for coffee chats to grow my network and learn about roles that I am curious about. I am curious about learning about the skills required to succeed today and in the future. I meet with three mentors once a month to discuss my development, hear their perspectives on challenges I am facing and learn from their experiences and expertise. Finally, I sit on the Women in Sport and Entertainment, Toronto Chapter’s board as a committee member.

What are some of the notable takeaways and learnings for you from AHF’s Fellowship Circle? What changes do you hope to see in the next 5+ years as a result of AHF’s work?

Engaging in intellectually stimulating and important conversations with mentors and mentees allowed me to challenge my own assumptions on issues and reflect upon areas about my career and development that I did not give too much thought to before joining this program. A notable learning for me from the program was the concept of self-care as activism delivered by Chivon John, something I hadn’t considered prior to the fellowship. 

As a woman of colour and a child of immigrant parents, hard work and resilience are engraved in everything we do. From a young age, we are told “you will have to work twice as hard to make things happen.” While I hold these concepts true and valid, through this program I have been able to reflect upon what self-care means to me and where it manifests. I have always felt compelled to speak up against injustices and inequalities transpiring within and outside of the workplace. That being said, it is a heavy burden to hold sometimes especially in white-dominated workplaces. It is hard to do this work when you are exhausted and feeling defeated. Another learning I took away from the program is that self-care is as important as choosing your battles to avoid activist burnout to maintain wellness. As companies continue to democratize wellness and self-care, I hope that they reflect upon decolonizing the norms associated with these concepts.  

The work AHF is doing is predicated on bringing strong, compassionate, intelligent women together to share their unique experiences, to learn together and stand together in solidarity. The embedded sense of community and open communication is what I value most out of AHF’s work because of the strength of our unified voice. In five years from now, I hope our unique experiences and voices will dismantle systems that hold women back from achieving their true potential. Women of colour offer innovative, transformative solutions and ideas for businesses and tech companies alike. I hope we will continue to see the dismantling of structural and systemic barriers, and more women of colour taking on leadership positions at all levels of decision-making tables. 

“True leadership is about asking for a bigger pie, not a bigger piece of it.”

What’s one leadership lesson you’ve learned in your career?

One leadership lesson that I have learned during the early stages of my career has been the power of knowledge sharing and celebrating one another’s success. Often, women and particularly women of colour are competing against one another for a seat at the table. Unfortunately, society has falsely led us to believe that there can only be one of us at the decision-making table. This creates isolation and unnecessary competitiveness amongst groups of women already working to overcome patriarchal barriers. Whether it be within or outside of the workplace, knowledge sharing and celebrating success demonstrates that there is room for us all to succeed. True leadership is about asking for a bigger pie, not a bigger piece of it.