In 1989, Sana Qureshy Tahir and her family moved to Canada from Libya, where she joined the Grade 9 class at Bayview Glen. “Language was not an issue for me because I had attended a British school in my elementary years and an American school for middle school,” remembers Sana. “My uncertainty was around what was ‘cool’ in Toronto in music and in clothes. I could see it was all very different from Libya.”
Academically, the School was a good fit for Sana right away, and she was very relieved to discover there was a uniform, because it meant she didn’t have to worry about what to
wear. “That first year at Bayview Glen was an important one for me,” Sana says. “I was only 13 and for me it was about growing and learning socially in Grade 9. By Grade 10, I had made my friends and was fitting into the School very well.”
Two friends who helped her make that transition in Grade 9 were Kareen Martin and Lavinia Litras Barseghian. “We became really good friends and took a lot of the same courses,” says Sana, “and another person who helped me so much that year was Mrs. Reed, who was my History and Law teacher, and was also the director of the Drama program. Mrs. Reed encouraged alternative points of view and got her students talking about what’s happening in the world. She made me feel that my opinions and my perspective, being from Libya, really mattered. She was a fabulous mentor and she was responsible for my enthusiastic participation in the Drama Club.”
Sana’s greatest strength academically was always Math. Although they emigrated from Libya, Sana’s family are originally from Pakistan and families from there expect their children to excel at Math and Science. Sana’s two older brothers were not as good at Math as she was, and so she was pleased to excel in that subject. When she first enrolled at the University of Toronto, her intention was to focus on Science, possibly Pre-Medicine or scientific research. As she began her studies, Sana gradually came to realize that this was not her true passion.
“I found that it just did not speak to me,” Sana recalls, “and I was glad I was also involved in the Hart House Drama Club and had minored in English. During my undergraduate years, I took an externship at a Sports Medicine Clinic and the office manager there said he thought a career in business would be a better fit for me.”
Taking his advice, Sana sat for her GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) and did very well. She then applied to all the American schools that did not require an undergraduate degree in business before entering the MBA program. She was offered a place at the University of Pittsburgh. “I earned my MBA in Finance and Operations in 1998 and have not looked back,” she says. “I have had a wonderful career in Corporate America, culminating with my most recent role at PepsiCo.”
Sana is the Director of Finance supporting the Marketing team at PepsiCo in New York; a role that is an ideal fit with her skills and interests. “PepsiCo is a great company, a great brand and a global organization, so I can move just about anywhere in the world and stay with the company.”
“I think my time at Bayview Glen contributed to this career choice,” says Sana. “The experience of moving from Libya to Toronto, learning how to manage change with the help of the support system at Bayview Glen, and also having that early exposure to History, Law and Drama, really made a difference. My memories of Bayview Glen are not of the straight A’s I got in Math, but about how the School helped me to transition to a new way of life.”
“For example, I had never been on a short trip anywhere without my parents,” Sana continues. “In Grade 10, I was allowed to go away on a ski trip because Mr. Pillay spoke to my parents and helped them to understand how important it was to let me be with my peers outside of School and away from home. That short ski trip was the first time I realized I could be independent, make my own choices. The feeling of independence was exhilarating! I remember thinking: I can do anything I want in life!”
“Bayview Glen also gave me two of my best friends, Sabine Elowe and Rinku Kapoor, both of whom I became close to in Grade 11. Like me, they came from international homes and it always felt like we belonged with each other. For over twenty years now, through marriages, pregnancies, all life’s ups and downs, we have been friends. A lot of the things that I most value about my life today began for me at Bayview Glen.” Today, Sana lives in the New York City suburbs with Imran, her husband of seven years, and her two young daughters.
Bayview Glen is proud to include Sana Qureshy Tahir amongst our Notable Alumni.