TheGlitz ‘Super Woman’: Shreya Ghodawat, Sustainability Strategist, Founder & CEO, Sustainable Guides

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TheGlitz ‘Super Woman’ Shreya Ghodawat is a name to watch in the world of sustainability and social impact. Driven by a passion for promoting climate solutions and aspirational ethical living, she is making a difference with her work as a sustainability strategist, writer, speaker, and advisor. The founder and CEO of Sustainable Guides, a venture devoted to promoting conscious travel, and an advisor at Ahimsa VC – India’s first vegan VC fund, Shreya advocates for voting for a better world with our wallets. She is a Global Shaper – a community of young activists backed by the World Economic Forum, a practising vegan, a climate reality leader, and a member of Top Tier Impact. A captivating speaker, she has hosted a TEDx Countdown event aimed at catalyzing action on climate solutions. Her areas of expertise encompass a wide range of subjects, including climate change, sustainable living, sustainable travel and tourism, women in leadership, intersectionality in environmentalism, purpose-driven entrepreneurship, decolonizing sustainability, and reclaiming the Indian/Asian context of sustainability.

With her unwavering dedication to effecting positive change for a better tomorrow, TheGlitz ‘Super Woman’ Shreya stands out as a visionary leader and a shining example of what can be achieved when purpose, passion, and impact are aligned.

Your journey has had many momentous milestones. Could you tell us about your life-changing journey that has moulded you to be what you are today?

My story so far has been characterised with significant milestones, each of which has contributed to shaping the individual I am today. Having been born and raised in a remote, bucolic town in India, I was blessed with an environment where verdant nature, thriving fauna, birdsong and clean air were the norm – a scarce privilege that I consider myself fortunate to have experienced. At the age of 18, I moved to Singapore to study at the National University of Singapore. Subsequently, I have lived in a plethora of countries such as Sweden, New Zealand, and Switzerland. During my undergraduate studies in Sociology and Gender Studies, I came to appreciate the interconnectedness between equity, ecology, animal rights, and sustainability – a realisation that continues to shape my beliefs to this day.

For the past seven years, I have been a committed vegan, collaborating closely with Ahimsa VC, India’s foremost investment fund dedicated to reducing harm to the environment, animals, and human health. My love for travel has enabled me to explore over 65 countries, immersing myself in diverse cultures and studying their impact on the economy and environment. This inclination eventually led me to pursue a Master’s degree in Sustainable Tourism, which led to the creation of Sustainable Guides, a platform that offers travellers the essential knowledge to make environmentally responsible and socially conscious choices while travelling.

My primary objective is to serve as a sustainability strategist for travel and tourism companies, empowering them to operate in a more ecologically responsible manner. In addition, I am working on launching a podcast and an online certification course that will focus on sustainability. Activism, building awareness, and fostering cooperation remain at the core of my aspirations, and I eagerly anticipate engaging with India’s climate and sustainability sphere to make a meaningful impact on society.

Shreya Ghodawat

Could you list 3 of your major achievements?
One particular experience that stands out to me is when I organised and hosted a TED Countdown event for climate change during covid with over 1500 attendees. We curated a host of sustainability professionals that inspired climate solutions.

I also had the honour of speaking on a panel about green finance at the esteemed London School of Economics, where I engaged with distinguished leaders and contributed to the discourse on sustainable finance. My insights were well-received and I was humbled to be part of such an important conversation.

Furthermore, I was accepted into a reputable startup incubator in Stockholm and received a pre-seed investment from a notable Nordic venture capital firm for my climate tech startup idea. This recognition of my vision for creating a more sustainable future was validating. In addition to these accomplishments, I am appreciative of other smaller yet meaningful achievements, such as my membership in Global Shapers and Top Tier Impact, my appointment as the state VP for Maharashtra Sustainable Business Council through WICCI, and my involvement in leading She Changes Climate’s mission in India. These opportunities allowed me to make a positive impact and contribute to important initiatives.

What are the setbacks you have faced? How did you tackle these setbacks or challenges? And what lesson have you learned from it?
I have encountered my fair share of setbacks and challenges. Whether it be grappling with co-founder disagreements or pivoting product ideas, facing failed startups or experiencing burnout, I have come to understand that setbacks are an inevitable aspect of the complex journey of life. Yet, perhaps the most salient and sizable setback in my experience was the attempt by my Swedish co-founder to take over my shares, 48 hours before the vesting period.

I had to urgently obtain Swedish legal counsel during the Christmas holiday and quickly familiarise myself with Swedish startup laws to effectively defend my position. This experience provided me with invaluable lessons, strengthened my inner resilience, and instilled in me the confidence that I have the necessary skills to navigate even the most formidable obstacles. I learned that setbacks, regardless of their size, provide significant opportunities for personal growth, and that persistence is a critical element in overcoming unforeseen challenges.

When you look back, what are the three qualities in you that have helped you become what you are today?
Three key qualities have been integral to my success: resilience, curiosity, and kindness.

●Resilience has been critical in helping me navigate the inevitable challenges and setbacks that come with entrepreneurship. It has enabled me to adapt, pivot, and persevere in the face of adversity, emerging stronger and more resilient each time.
●Curiosity has been a driving force in my personal and professional growth. It has motivated me to seek out new ideas, explore different perspectives, and continually challenge my assumptions. This quality has allowed me to remain innovative and adaptable in a rapidly changing world.
●Finally, kindness, empathy, and compassion have been essential in shaping my approach to leadership and my overall mission. These qualities have helped me cultivate deep relationships with team members, partners, and customers, and have enabled me to create a positive impact in the world.

Together, these three qualities have formed a strong foundation for my personal and entrepreneurial journey, and I look forward to continuing to cultivate and refine them in the years to come.

Who are the people who have been the wind behind your wings?
My network of family, friends, and mentors have been an invaluable source of encouragement and guidance. I also find inspiration and motivation from the books I read and the podcasts I listen to. In particular, Mel Robbins’ podcast sets the tone for my day and helps me stay focused and energised.

And of course, I’m endlessly grateful for my incredible team, who share my vision and values, and whose unwavering dedication and hard work have made our mission a reality. Together, we have accomplished so much, and I am grateful for their hard work and dedication. It is the collective support of these people and resources that has propelled me forward and enabled me to achieve my goals.

Lastly, if there was a quote to define you, what would it be?
“Your new life is going to cost you your old one. It’s going to cost you your comfort zone and your sense of direction. It’s going to cost you relationships and friends. It’s going to cost you being liked and understood. It doesn’t matter. The people who are meant for you are going to meet you on the other side. You’re going to build a new comfort zone around the things that actually move you forward. Instead of being liked, you’re going to be loved. Instead of being understood, you’re going to be seen. All you’re going to lose is what was built for a person you no longer are.”

Brianna Wiest, The Mountain Is You

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