Humans of Haas: Shorya Ghai
Written by Michael Xia.
Shorya Ghai graduated from UC Berkeley in 2018 with a degree in Business Administration. Originally a pre-med student, Shorya applied to Haas with a dream to start her own business one day. In 2015, she taught a class at Haas called “HealthCare in 2025” that encouraged pre-med students to explore different career options in healthcare. Post-graduation, Shorya began her career with a two-year Business Leader Rotational Program at the Walt Disney Company, followed by a role at DoorDash’s Driver Growth and Product Ops team. After realizing she was not feeling fulfilled during her time in corporate America and having many conversations with family and friends, Shorya re-discovered her passion for treating animals and becoming a veterinarian one day. On her weekends, she started shadowing at a local animal hospital and ultimately decided to quit her job to pursue her dreams of becoming a vet and opening her own clinic. Outside of work, Shorya is also very passionate about physical and mental health—she is a certified group fitness instructor and has worked part-time as a Crisis Counselor at the Suicide Prevention Hotline.
- What does business mean to you?
For me, business has always been a means to an end and a tool to help you figure out how to make a living with your passions. Back when I was working in corporate America, I thought I was doing business whether it be in marketing, finance, consumer insights, or strategy. But as the years passed by, I realized that at the end of the day, I was just siloed into a specific role. If you really want to learn business, you have to see how all the dots connect—this is how you are going to learn how all of the different foundational pillars work together; this is a more fulfilling way of doing “business”.
- What is a common misperception you see in the business community at Berkeley?
When I first started at Haas, I quickly realized that people are stuck in the rat race of, “I need to get the top grades, I need to get the top banking or consulting internship, and then I need to get a return offer and a six-figure salary, etc.” People often get caught up in that cycle, but they forget what is interesting to them and what really makes them happy. There is this misperception that this is the only way to make money and succeed in the business world. The result is that many business students get a few years deep into a career/life track that they felt they had to enter but ultimately are not content with. Eventually, this leads to a self-realization, or what we like to call a “quarter-life crisis.”
This is exactly what happened to me, but I got lucky in that I was able to dig deep and quickly pivot to something I am passionate about. However, some people do not have the same realization that I did, and even my Berkeley Haas peers who did have a similar realization chose to ignore it and continue showing up to their corporate job and remain in the rat race. Suddenly, you start living for the weekends and slowly find yourself tied to the golden handcuffs. Over time, it becomes difficult to see anything outside of that bubble—exploring other jobs and careers seems like a far-fetched dream and unattainable. This does not mean that the rat race is not beneficial if you know what you want at the finish line. Unfortunately, people are often unhappy and feel stuck because they are just following everyone else who also do not know what they want. Rather than exclusively competing for the sake of competition and comparison, it is important to question your own status quo to discover and explore what you really want from your life.
- You have worked across various industries and roles, from strategy at Disney and Doordash to helping out in mental health services. What is the most important thing that you have learned from those diverse experiences?
It is really important to gain diverse experiences in all aspects of business. When I was working at Disney, I was able to do strategy, consumer insights, marketing, and finance, and I really enjoyed connecting the dots for a larger corporation. These experiences will ultimately help you in the long run to discover what you want to do. For example, when I was pre-med at Berkeley for my first two and a half years, I had thought that all the grueling hours of work went to waste, but here I am now applying to vet school with a head start. I cannot stress how important it is to chase diverse life experiences. We are so young and live in this generation where everything is interesting to us and there is so much out there to explore. For many immigrant/first-generation college students, their parents did not have the same opportunities and privileges that we do as Berkeley-Haas graduates—their only purpose was to make money to support the family. I am grateful for the opportunity to explore different paths, which have all as a result helped me figure out what I want, and who I want to be as a person.
- What sparked your passion for the veterinary space?
I was casually talking to my mom one day about my lack of joy from my current career and was explaining how unsatisfied I felt in my role. Despite other alternatives I considered, like working at another firm such as Google or Facebook, I knew I was going to feel the same cycle of emotions. And my mom said to me, “when you were a little girl, you always told me that you wanted to be a vet. You love animals, you did pre-med at Berkeley, but you did not end up pursuing your pre-med route for different reasons, so what ever happened to pursuing that dream?” That was when the wheels really started turning in my head. For the next few days, I could not stop thinking about it. For the first time in my life, I rediscovered something I could actually see myself doing. I decided to put my hypothesis to a test and reached out to several clinics and created a volunteer opportunity for myself at an animal hospital. I still remember the moment when I watched the head vet perform a Stenotic nares surgery on a French Bulldog to improve the animal’s breathing and quality of life. That is when I said to myself, “Wow, I can totally see myself doing this, and I want to do this.” Shortly after, I started reaching out to the admissions committee at various programs and current vet students. Through this discovery process, I became more comfortable and excited by the feasibility of switching career tracks. It was not long before I quit my job and started pursuing my forgotten childhood dream.
- Looking forward, what are the next steps in your career and your long-term goals?
I am currently applying to veterinary schools and working full-time at a vet clinic. Long term, I want to combine my business knowledge from Haas to open my own animal hospital and continue to pursue my mental health passion by opening an emotional support animal facility in my community. I have also heard that the majority of vets are not interested in opening their own practice for reasons being that they are too afraid or that they lack business experience. I want to bring to vet school something similar to what I did at Berkeley—I started a DeCal class that helped pre-med students explore other passions in healthcare and discover that there is more to the healthcare field than just being a doctor! In other words, I want to do something similar in vet school such as bringing in different speakers from the business community and giving them the skills they need to feel confident in opening their own practice. I am fortunate to leverage my diverse experiences at Haas, Disney, and DoorDash to help bridge the gap between veterinary medicine, business, and technology.
Additionally, there is actually a high suicide rate in the vet field, partially due to depression, anxiety, and burnout. Along with the high loans and low salaries, veterinarians frequently find themselves having to euthanize a patient with a treatable injury because the owner cannot afford the costly treatment. I hope to bring my experience from the Suicide Hotline and work with other fellow aspiring vets to create a renewed emphasis on mental health within the veterinary community.
- What is something you wish you would tell yourself if you could do it all over again?
Like most people our age, we are always focused on the next step, like “How am I going to get from point A to point B?” But we really forget about what point A is doing for us, and how we are growing in that present moment. Even during my rotational program at Disney, I always was preparing myself for the next step versus really seeing the learning opportunity that I had in front of me. I personally felt like a lot of that “future planning” is driven by the promotional cycle in corporate America—you think you are going to be fulfilled when you do get promoted, but in reality, it is not in your hands. No matter how much you accomplish, no matter how much your manager praises you, sometimes due to external factors outside of your control, you might not get that promotion. When you do, it will be pretty short-lived in terms of fulfillment. The long-term fulfillment really comes from learning the new skill and applying it to something that genuinely interests you and reflecting more on what I could be doing today versus focusing on how I am going to get promoted to the next step. In other words, focus on the internal promotion!
- What is some advice you would give yourself as a freshman or starting in Haas as a junior?
Two things really stood out to me. First, keep having those conversations of what interests you with friends and family because they know you best and it is so unbelievably important to get those thoughts out in the world.
Second, if you are even slightly interested in something, find a way to explore that interest to either rule it out or find a passion in a risk-free way; in other words, networking, attending webinars, volunteering, research (in my case, it was persistently reaching out to people in the field and literally creating a volunteer position for myself). For instance, at one point I thought I wanted to be a therapist, and the best way to really see if I could handle it was to talk to patients and have that real-life experience. As a result, I volunteered as a crisis counselor at a suicide hotline where I was advising high-risk individuals once a week. Although I quickly got a gut feeling that this profession was not for me, it was unbelievably gratifying to learn the skills and have those really vulnerable conversations with patients. I will also now never wonder “What if…” as a result. Today, I want to bring my passion for mental health to the veterinarian field, and the volunteering aspect has really helped me figure out my interests and what careers related to that interest may or may not suit me. Our generation often does not have an idea of what really interests them or where to even start to figure it out. We often think that there is this one singular passion that we need to do for the rest of our lives and that we must discover that passion at the end of college or immediately after graduating. That is not true. Have multiple passions and build your own career that you will enjoy. The best way to figure out what you want is by testing the waters in multiple pools before diving in.
- What building on campus would you say you are?
- Li Ka Shing—I actually did Neuroscience research with Macaque monkeys in that building. I spent a lot of time there, and it was a nice break from the main campus!
- What’s your go-to order at Cafe FIFO?
- Pesto turkey panini with a chai tea latte right before class.
- Early bird or night owl?
- Neither, I am an afternoon person—I thrive from 12pm to 7pm.
- Favorite study space at Berkeley?
- Cafe Strada was a big one. Haas too—I loved studying at Haas because it was super close to my house. I was never the type of person to study in a super quiet environment; I needed people around me. So, I was always a Cafe person, and I’d hop around different trendy cafes on College Avenue.
- Favorite place on campus?
- Memorial Glade—just because whenever I was stressed, I would see students at Memorial Glade who were just chilling and enjoying their time at Berkeley. That was always a good reminder to not stress and that life would be okay.
- Favorite place to eat, non-dining hall?
- Toss Noodles Bar on Shattuck.
- Party person or nah?
- Party person? Absolutely—if it means anything, I dislocated my right knee while dancing at a wedding 🙂
- Favorite class?
- Theater 10 – Fundamentals of Acting I
- Favorite genre of music?
- Hip Hop and Bollywood
- Worst experience during dead week/college in general?
- Freshman year. I had so many finals—it was my first dead week too—and so I did not allocate my time wisely. One night, I had a Math 1B final at 7pm, and then I had a Chem 1A final the next morning at 7am. I came back from my Math 1B final at 10pm, got food at Asian Ghetto, grabbed coffee, studied till 6am the next morning, walked into my Chem 1A final with a Red Bull and a Clif Bar, and somehow came out of there alive.
By Michael Xia