Attending Georgia Tech on the prestigious, four-year President’s Scholarship, Priya Boyington ’07 transitioned from an all-girls school to a male-dominated environment in the blink of an eye. She thrived, studying industrial engineering and serving as the president of her sorority. (She jokes that it provided a way for her to “balance out the fact that the school was 75% male.”) Upon graduation, Boyington joined consulting firm Bain & Company in Atlanta, where she began consulting with Fortune 500 companies on their hardest problems. During her tenure there, she was offered the opportunity to do an externship—six months to work anywhere else she wanted, with the intent of gaining experience outside of the consulting world. This opportunity took her to GoldieBlox, an (at-the-time brand new) company that creates interactive, STEM-themed toys for girls. Her love for startups was ignited, and it was off to business school at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Boyington’s next move was to Stitch Fix, an online personal-styling service, where she led the launch of Stitch Fix Kids. Most recently she was at arfa—a consumer products house of brands where she led the launch of two direct-to-consumer skincare brands. Today, she resides in New York City with her husband and consults for retail tech startups.
Q. How did GPS encourage your interest in STEM?
A. GPS was fundamental in developing my interest in math and science and encouraging me to pursue a STEM degree. My parents, who are engineers, have an educational software company in Chattanooga that now creates STEM curriculum for students. Much of their careers have been dedicated to getting kids into STEM fields, but GPS had amazing teachers who helped make it applicable. Mrs. Steele was my AP Chemistry teacher, and I remember doing a cool project with nanofibers—it was about infusing them with scents to sell to hotels. I think GPS really enabled me to be creative and put actual science to work with things I was interested in.
Q. Why are you passionate about what you do?
A. I love putting something down on paper—an idea for a business or product—and seeing it come to fruition. It takes a lot of time—usually about a year from idea to holding that finished product in your hands—but the first time you hold it is really something special. Then being able to see people enjoy it, knowing I had a hand in creating it and worked super hard with the team to get it out there, is very gratifying. I have had a chance to do this many times during my career already, and that is what excites me.
Q. What was your favorite tradition at GPS? Why?
A. Chapel Talks. I don’t think at the time it would’ve been that, but now it is. It gave each person the opportunity to be an individual—to share whatever stories or talents they wanted to, and we were all better for it.
Q. What’s the best piece of advice you received during your time at GPS? Do you remember who it came from?
A. One of my favorite classes was Theory of Knowledge. It was really interesting for me to challenge a lot of my beliefs. It was a good balance to the self-confidence I had—it made me think deeper than surface level. Mr. Tumelaire did that, too. A lot of Upper School teachers really challenged us to think beyond the world we lived in and challenged what we believed to be true. I could’ve ended up in a much smaller world if I hadn’t had that. I really learned to be myself, no matter what situation I was thrown into.
Q. If you could offer one piece of advice to current GPS students, what would it be?
A. To think outside the box in terms of your career. In school I kind of knew what I wanted to do but not necessarily how to get there. I think students today have a better picture of the world than we did growing up. However, the downside is now if you want to be an entrepreneur, you think you have to start your own company at 15 and if you haven’t by 16, you’ve failed. I hope current students understand there are so many ways to get to where you want in your career. Every step can be interesting and can teach you something, even if it’s not the perfect thing yet.
Q. Do you stay in touch with your classmates? What impact have they had on your life?
A. I definitely stay in touch with my classmates, especially my friends Kathleen and Lizzy. Since they’ve known me for a long time, they help me remember who I am, and we can really let loose and be ourselves around each other. Remembering and laughing about our times at GPS is always a part of any time we connect.
Q. Can you point to anything that GPS did to prepare you for your future?
A. The two most important traits that GPS gave me were confidence and time management. When I went to college at Georgia Tech, I remember thinking school was so much easier for me than for others because I knew how to study and manage my time. My first semester I went to pick up my graded first-quarter test from my professor. He handed it to me, said I’d done well, and asked if I’d gone to an all-girls school. I was like … yes … how did you know? He said the girls who speak up and ask the most questions typically attended an all-girls school. He could tell that from just a couple of weeks of having me in class. Growing up in an environment where girls were encouraged to be the first person to raise their hands had a big impact.
Q. Who is a GPS girl to you?
A. I think a GPS girl is someone who is smart, caring, and confident. She really knows who she is and what she wants, but does it with her community in mind.
Q. What is your proudest accomplishment thus far?
A. Career-wise, launching Stitch Fix Kids. It was the first business I ever launched, so it was incredibly exciting. On a more personal level, I’m proud of being true to myself, having the courage to pursue new opportunities. I wouldn’t be where I am today without that.