For Sabrina Aggarwal, who joined the Department of Integrated Marketing and Communications within the NYU SPS Division of Programs in Business as an adjunct instructor in January, empathy for others and a keen interest in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) issues have played an integral role in her career choices. Aggarwal is currently a senior vice president at Marina Maher Communications, where she focuses on healthcare marketing and serves as the DE&I learning and development lead.
“I’ve always enjoyed helping others,” said Aggarwal, born and raised in Philadelphia to a nuclear engineer father and entrepreneur mother from India. “My passion has been in public health policy and effecting change in populations of people.” Citing as her inspiration a close family friend, Dr. Mathew Varghese, known as the “polio warrior” who was instrumental in the eradication of polio in India, Aggarwal earned a bachelor’s degree in health and sciences at the University of Pennsylvania while working at a children’s hospital with pediatric heart patients. She went on to earn a master’s degree in public health from Johns Hopkins University.
With a passion for global health and social enterprise, Aggarwal spent the next decade in domestic public health and international development agencies, including the Clinton Health Access Initiative; the non-profit, charity: water; and Community Systems Foundation. She traveled to 70 countries and spent three years doing fieldwork in India—"I fell in love with my heritage,” she said—but had a near-fatal experience after contracting dengue. “It was humbling,” she recalled.
Growing tired of living out of a suitcase and looking for career growth opportunities, Aggarwal made a switch to public relations and found her next professional calling. Within a short period, she moved up the career ladder, working on internal and external communications at Weber Shandwick, Edelman, BCW, and Marina Maher.
Along the way, she discovered another passion: developing diversity & inclusion programs for organizations. Noticing a lack of Asian representation in communications, she founded Edelman’s first-ever Asian Employee Resource Group (ERG), Boundless, and BCW’s first Asian ERG, Asian-C, which was awarded “Best New ERG” in 2020. “There is a general misconception that Asians are a monolith, when we are among the most diverse groups of people,” she stated. “My goal is to bring more Asians into the PR and marketing industries.”
Along with her professional interests, Aggarwal, the mother of a one-and-a-half year-old and is a talented photographer and artist. Many of her photos were a natural extension of her international development work; she has had solo photography exhibitions and won several awards. Aggarwal will be pursuing her MBA at the Wharton School next year.