How this NY based Product Manager is creating a platform for students to pursue holistic education
A product manager in a health company, Pragya is also running her non profit PROJECT XXI, which focuses on providing the youth with different aspects of all rounded development
Wednesday April 15, 2020,
6 min Read
An Exclusive Meeting With Pragya Saboo - Product Manager and Founder (based in New York). Along with being passionate about product and healthcare, she is also truly dedicated to her non profit - PROJECT XXI, where she focuses on providing her students with holistic education.
Let us get a glimpse of Pragya's expertise, passion, and lifestyle in the detailed interview below:
Brief About Pragya
I’m Pragya Saboo — I working a Product Manager at Oscar Health (a disruptive
healthcare company based in NY), and I also run my non profit - PROJECT XXI
which I founded in June 2017. I graduated from Georgia Tech in 2017 with a B.S in
Industrial and Systems Engineering.
I am actively involved in the Product Management community in the US and in
India. I recently did a TEDx talk on integrating Systems Thinking and Design
Thinking approach to solve daily problems. I also serve as the Indian Delegate to the United Nations ECOSOC Youth Forum.
Along side work, I am also the President of the NY Chapter of Georgia Tech’s
Women Alumni Network, and a Rising Leader Board Member of Impact NY.
In my spare time I coach students in Product Managements across different
platforms / schools and also conduct Bollywood fitness classes.
What makes your non profit unique?
PROJECT XXI dismisses the unbalanced emphasis on stellar academic grades in
high schools and colleges, and focuses on the overall holistic development of
students. Key areas of focus are: Personal Development, Professional Development, and Spiritual Development.
What experiences have you had a woman entrepreneur/engineer?
As a woman engineer, there have been several instances where I have felt
discriminated against, specially back in my hometown in Kolkata. Often times, that
would make me feel incompetent. I overcame my feeling of inadequacy and
incompetency by surrounding myself with people who believed in me, and people
who inspired me.
However, outside of that, specially in my college and in NY, there have been ample
amount of resources that encourage women entrepreneurship and leadership. I’ve leaned a lot on those and I aspire to create a community of women leaders who can depend on each other and make a positive difference!
How do you maintain a work-life balance?
I’m a big sucker for Google Calendars, planning the following week on a Sunday
evening, and I am constantly looking to improve my time management and
productivity skills. I even add my causal social engagements to my calendar!
Putting everything down to paper helps me prioritize my time effectively and
ensure that I am allocating the appropriate time to each of my commitments/tasks.
I determine my priority list using the principles of the Eisenhower Matrix.
What is the unique selling proposition of your Non Profit?
The main goal of PROJECT XXI is to provide the youth with the opportunity to
pursue holistic education. This concept is highly neglected across the education
system in India. Due to unstructured school curriculums and high attention given to grades in school, a student might suffer from psychological atrocities. This can at any point, hamper their growth and draw their attention towards unfair
activities. Creating a habit of reading books, meditating, engaging in sports,
having productive part-time activities, working towards goals, networking, and
being generous and showing gratitude are some of those things which can turn a
person towards developing an all rounded personality.
PROJECT XXI relies heavily on e-learning. Again, this was something that many
schools / students were not equipped to ji
accommodate. But with recent developments in global health conditions (mainly related to Coronavirus), where students are forced to stay at home, there has been an increase in investment in instruments to facilitate e-learning in a scalable manner. I am increasingly
leveraging these tools to help more and more students!
Where do you see your NGO, five years from now?
In five years from now, I hope that aspects of holistic education are not considered
as a part of ‘extra curricular activities’, but instead it’s baked into the education
curriculum. I hope to assist in building holistic curriculums that deeply expose
students to topics such as entrepreneurship, design thinking, managing money, finance, nutrition, meditation - to name a few.
How are you maintaining work life balance while WFH during the pandemic?
Since you’re living in New York - how are you emotionally dealing with the
It’s definitely a challenge adjusting to a WFH routine, specially when you thrive the most in a space physically designed to be a work-space. I had to be forgiving to
myself while I took the time to figure out the rhythm to work from home. I’ve
found it challenging to be self-disciplined about the time I spend working - as
opposed to a 9-6 routine, I started working pretty much all day long. But once I
found my rhythm and found triggers, I could optimize those to be more productivea andintentional, WFH has worked out for me fairly well. I make sure that I finish my morning routine, workout, shower before I get to ‘work’. I also plan my after work hours with board calls, teaching, working on my non profit, training to be an instructor, reading, catching up with family and friends, cooking, taking an online class, working on side projects, and writing. The key for me is to make sure that I have an agenda for the entire day, that helps me stay accountable to my plans. I’m now being able to spend time on things that I wouldn’t have spent time on
Emotionally, being in NY at this time, has been exhausting and heartbreaking -
and I’m sure everyone in lockdown from all over the world can relate. But every
morning I start my day with mindful meditation and writing everything I am
grateful for, and that helps me keep my focus on the correct things. It is disturbing
to see the stats and news, but the best thing you can do at this point is to stay at
home, donate to help organizations fighting for this cause, and express gratitude and encouragement to the frontline workers.