Priya Sapra: Vision and Strategy for Product Innovation

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Priya Sapra
Priya Sapra
Priya Sapra

Priya Sapra serves as the Chief Product Officer for SHYFT Analytics, an industry-leading cloud-based data management, analytics and insights organization based in Waltham, MA.  At SHYFT, she leads the company’s overall vision and strategy for product innovation across the spectrum of clinical and commercial solutions for life sciences institutions.

Sapra has previously been part of five growing startup companies over the past 15 years, acting as a senior leader for the last three.  Prior to SHYFT, she served as the Head of Analytics for Phreesia, a patient-centered health care technology company in New York, NY and Vice President of Quantitative Services for MedPanel, a research and consulting firm in Cambridge, MA.

Sapra earned her MBA in Entrepreneurship from Babson College as well as a Master’s degree in Epidemiology and Biostatistics from Boston University. She completed her undergraduate studies from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Biology and Literature.

woy-outstanding-logoINDIA New England: Please tell our readers about your work and what you enjoy most about it?

Priya Sapra: I have the sincere pleasure and privilege of serving as the Chief Product Officer for SHYFT Analytics.  SHYFT is a life sciences technology company devoted to leveraging data and analytics to optimize the delivery of powerful insights across the clinical-commercial continuum of the industry. My role as CPO is focused on conceiving, designing and creating disruptive solutions for the market through the intersection of our core components (data, analytics and technology).  Ultimately, our mission is to deliver products that transform the way life sciences organizations think and execute.

I absolutely adore being a member of the SHYFT team – working with intelligent, innovative, passionate and hard-working individuals.  Each one of us is committed to improving healthcare by informing and aligning the drug development and commercialization process with optimal patient outcomes and cost of care.  The quest for better patient health drives the very core of our efforts, which is tremendously satisfying.

INE: To which charitable, community and professional group do you belong and why?

PS: My philosophy to charity is to act locally – if we all do this – a global change is possible.  Therefore, the focus of my community work has been related to my son’s school and the broader Boston vicinity.  Most recently, I acted as the Director of Communications for the Chestnut Hill School – helping the school ensure its mission, vision and works were broadly communicated to the community and surrounding neighborhoods.  The ultimate purpose being to ensure the children saw their school as a mere extension of their immediate family and home. In addition, I am a veteran supporter/participant in the Walk for Hunger, an annual event by Project Bread – to help support the health and nourishment of those in need in the greater Boston area.  Likewise, I take part in the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk – focused on raising funds for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and the relentless fight against cancer.

I also serve as the member of many industry and professional groups related to my role (e.g. HIMSS, PMSA, PMRG).  I find these forums to be excellent resources of timely information for our ever-changing industry.  They allow me to stay abreast of the “latest and greatest” and learn a tremendous amount from my peers and mentors – helping us ensure that we are all wiser from the free exchange of ideas.

INE: What are your hobbies and interests?

PS: As an aspiring citizen of the world, travel is a great love of mine.  I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to visit many countries across Europe, Asia, Africa and South America.  Each place provides a new perspective and appreciation for history, art, food and humanity.  It is amazing how much ignorance we can continue to carry with us – no matter how much education and experience we have been provided. In my opinion, travel is the only means to breakdown our mutual misinterpretations.

In addition, as I hinted above, art is a great love of mine.  Specifically, my more creative side absolutely adores abstract art – art that pushes us to observe the apparent, yet understand the unapparent.  The cubist movement, (works of Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso) which I define as “ordered chaos”, is my favorite.

INE: In what way you feel you have most positively influenced or served the local community and your company/organization and professional field.

PS: I think the most concrete way in which I have positively influenced my community is by serving as an example of how minority women can lead in the product, technology or any corporate sector.  Historically, I have been the only female executive in organizations – and it is not often that I am accompanied by other women in the boardroom or in investor discussions.  Like many, I am a woman striving to have it all – trying to strike and maintain the balance between family, friends and work – in the relentless pursuit of equilibrium, a never-ending work-in-progress.  However, I humbly hope that I inspire the next generation of women to not allow themselves to be simply placed into the boxes of mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, homemaker, business woman, executive, etc.  But rather for the first time in history, allow themselves to fully embrace each of their many facets and truly relish the multi-dimensional life that we now have the capacity to live.  We all can indeed be super women!

INE: Your rare talent?

PS: I am an amateur poet. I have been writing for many years since I first studied Literature at MIT.  In particular, I like composing pieces in Hindi/Urdu.  I find these to be much more expressive languages with a remarkable breadth of vocabulary – allowing one to select the precise word to relay the emotion at hand.  It feels like poetry is an art lost amongst those my age, so I guess it can be considered a rare “talent”.

INE: Your favorite books?

PS: ‘The Conquest of Happiness’ by Bertrand Russell

‘The Little Prince’ by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

‘I Like Myself’ by Karen Beaumont

Any of the compilations of the works of Nida Fazli, Parveen Shakir, Fernando Pessoa or Pablo Neruda

INE: Your favorite quotes?

PS: The following is my absolute favorite quote because it beautifully summarizes my personal guiding principles: “Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind.” – Bertrand Russell

Another favorite: “Opinion is really the lowest form of human knowledge. It requires no accountability, no understanding. The highest form of knowledge is empathy, for it requires us to suspend our egos and live in another’s world. It requires profound purpose larger than the self kind of understanding.”

INE: Who inspires you the most?

PS: My son. Some readers may feel that this is a cliché response.  However, in my life, there is no greater truth.  In Vikrant, I find the inspiration to set an example.  It is quite humbling to know that you are serving as a role model for someone.  He drives me to want to be better than I am and to hold myself to higher standards – spiritually, personally, and professionally.  Ultimately, my hope is that by observing my journey – he realizes that there are no limits to his own.

In addition, throughout life, I have found inspiration across a wide variety of people.  There have been attributes to admire and learn from in almost each individual that I have encountered.  Specifically, those who have the courage to fully live their lives on their own terms – without regard of societal norms and opinions.  It takes great strength to fight against the forces that are pushing us to adhere to the status quo; their stories are tremendously inspiring.

INE: Your core value you try to live by?

 PS: This above all; to thine own self be true.

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