Shweta Gupta, Saga Realty and Construction’s web strategy and marketing manager, could easily qualify for another company title. It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to say she is the CTO — or Chief Tranquility Officer — at the firm.
In addition to managing the company’s internet site and creation of all marketing materials that support its vast Outer Banks operations, Gupta has taken on the task of insuring the spiritual and physical wellbeing of the Saga staff, her family and OBX residents.
Her many efforts include meditation sessions, bringing home-cooked dishes and anything else that fosters mindfulness and spiritual health. Gupta conceives occasional challenges for Saga employees, including a 21-day barefoot office challenge. “If work has an earth connection, team members can be more joyful,” she says.
“The biggest part of my role at Saga is bringing more joy into the workplace,” she says of the last nine years. “I instill goodness and kindness and everything else follows.”
Gupta came to the Outer Banks and Saga in 2009 as a newlywed. She had just married Amit Gupta, the company’s president in an elaborate, multi-day traditional Indian wedding in her native land. While she had earlier lived in California, she was new to the Outer Banks.
Gupta had previously lived on the west coast where she earned a master of science degree in computer systems at the University of Southern California. After her degree, Gupta worked for two years as a software developer at Yahoo in Northern California, before she felt the need to return home near New Delhi.
“Working at Yahoo was wonderful, but I wanted to be with my family. While at Yahoo I lived and breathed Yahoo. I really loved my work and the people I worked with, but the pull of being closer to my parents was very strong,” says Gupta, who goes home to visit her family in India for several weeks each year.
But a fateful phone call with her husband to-be led to the OBX.
“I first met Amit through family connections (at home) and after our marriage I followed him here to where his business is located,” says Gupta. “It was difficult at first with no Indian community and being unable to find familiar foods, but now I am at home here.”
At work she promotes goodwill and a sense of togetherness through her smile and willingness to listen to Saga coworkers. It probably doesn’t hurt that she brings in homemade foods, from many cultures, but all are strictly vegetarian in keeping with her Hindu faith. Her rum cake is a favorite.
While an OBX Indian community seemed to be lacking at first, several of her husband’s relative’s work at Saga and their families are growing, as is hers. Gupta has two children, five–year-old son Ayaam and 3-year-old daughter Anika. Mom insists that they maintain fluency in her native Hindi language and brings them on her extended annual India visit.
“Working for a family-run business allows me to have a good work-life balance,” says Gupta. “Every night when the children go to bed we sing, pray and chant first.” And every morning Gupta rises and drives to the beach to watch the sunrise while meditating. “It’s a great way to start the day.”
While back in India, Gupta founded an online business where employees could rate their work experiences while employed by a company. She says that her formation of that startup business taught her much.
“The energy (at a startup) was very inspiring and contagious. Wearing so many hats as an entrepreneur you learn so many things that you never thought of,” she says. “It’s not easy but it’s a lot of fun and it’s an adventure.”
As Gupta worked to build her company, she leaned heavily on a US-based mentor. While she didn’t meet him face-to-face until much later, Gupta says his advice was invaluable. They spoke frequently via Skype about numerous topics including business, product design and usability.
Looking to spread her message of tranquility and mindfulness beyond Saga, Gupta started a meditation class open to the public. Held in Kitty Hawk’s Outer Banks Yoga studio every Tuesday from 6 to 8 p.m., he class is free and open to the public. It includes meditation, a silent vegetarian dinner and chanting.
“A big part of me is very giving. That really helps charge me up,“ she says. “I want to help people live more holistic lives,” she says.
And if her time was not already fully occupied with family, Saga and teaching meditation, Gupta also manages all marketing for Masala Bay Grille, her family’s North Indian restaurant at the northern end of the Wright Memorial Bridge
Gupta is always considering how to spread her spiritual message more widely. “The Outer Banks is a truly beautiful place and we should all be mindful of how special it is,” she says.