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Brown Girl Bosses: Meet Priya Sharma, Project Manager, MBA and CPA

Written by: Priya Balakumar

Priya Sharma is a Indo-Caribbean Project Manager, CPA and entrepreneur that is taking the corporate world by storm. Priya is of Indo-Guyanese descent and currently lives in Manhattan, New York. She has over 10 years of experience in the financial industry and has worked for both JP Morgan private bank and Bank of Tokyo. She also holds an MBA and CPA. Priya currently works as a Project Manager with the Hedge Fund Millennium Partners, managing a wide range of finance and accounting efforts based in and around the trading life cycle.

As Priya continues to chip away at the glass ceiling, she aims to inspire those who follow in her footsteps.

When we asked Priya what it means to her to be Indo-Caribbean, she explained, “I think of my Indo-Caribbean heritage as a three point triangle. Being Indo-Caribbean is challenging as I have to stretch myself to bridge all three points— India, Guyana, and America. Reconciling three worlds is definitely more challenging, but I think it is what also gives me the strength to be braver, think quicker on my feet, adapt easier, and be more compassionate to others.” Like many of us, Priya struggled to balance her ancestry with modern Western culture. Being part of such a unique community and culture makes Indo-Caribbean women strong, determinant and inspiring leaders. Priya shares, “I am obviously biased, but I feel like Indo-Caribbean women are some of the strongest and bravest. Their ability to live with many different facets of themselves so seamlessly never fails to amaze me.”

Priya is breaking down barriers and making a name for Indo-Caribbean women in the Financial Industry.

However, similar to many females in a male dominated industry, Priya faced the classic injustice obstacles. Priya shares that being brave is both a reward and a challenge. She explains that being brave also means advocating for yourself in work-life-balance, equal pay, and recognition. Being able to stand up for yourself and know your worth is something that takes time and experience to master, but is a key skill for success. Priya also shares that having strong personal and professional support systems are important to help aid in being successful in the financial industry. She explains,“the finance industry can be a real energy drainer, so you need people in your life who can listen to you vent, provide solid, realistic suggestions (even when they are hard to hear), and celebrate your accomplishments with you.” Another key success criteria for any field of work is the ability to build a strong and supportive professional network. Brown Girl Diary aims to create an international networking platform for Indo-Caribbean women across the globe.

Being able to truly enjoy your academic and professional journey comes with a lot of obstacles, long nights, and tests of patience. When chatting with Priya about her MBA and CPA journey, she shared that being able to climb out of every low point and celebrate the highs was worth every challenges that she faced. With true determination and strength you can accomplish anything that you put your mind to. Priya explains that the key to success in such competitive and challenging programs is prioritization. She says, “at times, it took away from other things such as putting my side businesses on hold or missing important social events and weddings. However, anything in life worth doing will be worth the adequate attention. And remember, nothing is forever. Just because you are sacrificing and prioritizing now, doesn’t mean that it will be that way forever.” Putting your goals first is the key to success, and with a strong support system anything is possible. It Is also important to be able to pause the clock and celebrate the small and big wins in life. Priya shared that after every milestone (like finishing her MBA), she would take a break and make up for all the lost time with family, friends and personal endeavours.

By learning time management, prioritization, and the act of balance, you really can have it all.

For a lot of women in our community, it is often a struggle to find a place where we truly fit in and where we can be proud of our unique roots, culture and history. Priya faced a similar situation and expressed that, “For most of my life, I wasn’t proud to be Indo-Caribbean. I actually wished I could just be Indian because it was simpler and they had strength in their numbers. It was only a recent revelation, helped by organizations such as this one, that allowed me to understand this feeling was common and okay to feel. Since then, I have become more vocal and proud of my heritage, even starting a greeting card line focused around the Indo-Carribean culture.”

Priya has used her unique cultural blend as inspiration to start her own greeting card business. Her cards are a special representation to the Indo-Caribbean community as most have greetings such as Mom you make the roundest rotis, Dulhan & Dulhan and You are the Tamarind to my Pholourie, Bake to my Shark and Rum to my Cake.

Priya’s creativity and ability to uniquely express her cultural background makes her an entrepreneur to watch! Check out her Etsy shop today!

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