Chamber President 2016: Joya Shukla


Photo: Bijay Dixit

By Manu Shah

HOUSTON: Joya Shukla went from volunteering at an IACCGH event to being nominated to the Board of Directors to Chamber President all in the span of a few years.  In 2016, Joya put her heart into ‘chambering’ as her daughter calls it advancing the healthcare initiative, International Internship program, and events for young professionals.

As the first American born President and its youngest, Joya, a fifteen year Shell veteran, says she was keen to engage the next generation that she represented. To offer local university students an Indian corporate experience, Board member Narayan Bhargava and she launched the International Internship Program sending two local university students to Shell & JSW in India.  Intern Akash Dhingra described this as “one of the best things that ever happened to me.”

Joya also launched the Business of Medicine Series which in her words is “a breakthrough.” This healthcare initiative kicked off with a keynote by CHI-St Luke’s CEO Michael Covert. The intent is to strengthen healthcare bridges between top medical facilities in Houston and India and engage CHI-St. Luke further with Greater Houston with a special focus on women and those committed to medicine.

The year also delivered Shell Distinguished Lectures featuring LyondellBasell CEO Bob Patel, Dr. Renu Khator, and Consul General Dr. Anupam Ray, while the Women’s Leadership Series featured philanthropist Indrani Goradia, Wood Group CEO Michele McNichol, HMSDC President Ingrid Robinson, WBEA President April Day and Former Mayor Annise Parker introduced by UH Dean Latha Ramchand. The pearls of wisdom gained by attendees at each of these events provided empowering strategies and tools teaching life skills, leadership and work-life balance.”

 Joya was particularly pleased to have Bruce Culpepper, President Shell, USA deliver the 2016 Gala Keynote since her Chamber journey started in earnest when she was chosen to represent Shell on the Chamber’s board.   The 17th Annual Gala, the highlight of the year, had a record turnout of 750 guests from Houston’s top tier – along with an unprecedented thirty executives who joined the Gala from India. Mayor Sylvester Turner and other elected officials graced the occasion mingling with the diaspora of Houston’s business elite. She admits it was gratifying to see the incredible community support from energy, education, and healthcare—the Chamber’s key focus areas.

Quick to share credit, Joya acknowledges that this successful year was possible due to a “phenomenal Chamber board,” Treasurer Swapan Dhairyawan, Secretary Raj Bhavsar, and Executive Director Jagdip Ahluwalia along with the foundation laid by recent past Presidents Sanjay Ram & Ashok Garg and Chamber founders such as Dr. Durga Agrawal. Recognizing her tremendous involvement and contribution to the Chamber’s growth, Jagdip Ahluwalia also highlighted Joya’s persistence and ability to get things done.

As her year ends, President Joya Shukla credits her corporate training, project management skills and networking that helped leave the Chamber “just a little bit better than it was yesterday to benefit Houston and India.” While her term as President has ended, her involvement with the Chamber, she says, will continue with the same passion and enthusiasm.

She looks forward to continue making an impact in the Houston community through both nonprofit and corporate roles.