Prior to joining Innovation Works, Afshan was CEO of Focal Point Products, an international manufacturer and distributor of polyurethane millwork building materials for home construction, commercial projects, and building renovation. Earlier in her career, Afshan held a number of key positions in Xerox Corporation, in business development, M&A, and strategic planning.
Afshan holds an MBA from the Carnegie Mellon Tepper Business School, and a BS in Business Administration and English from Duquesne University.
Part of what makes our region great is our workforce and our talent, and I strive to contribute my energy and time in initiatives that support continued improvement and opportunity. I am an active Board Member of New Century Careers, a nonprofit workforce development organization that supports education and training for manufacturing workers in the machining field, with a variety of initiatives for pre-employment and incumbent workers, as well as employers. NCC’s mission will allow for the continued growth of skills necessary for new technologies in the region.
Entrepreneurship is part of my blood, and I am proud to be a part of expanding entrepreneurial opportunities in our region. My parents, originally from India, started all kinds of businesses, from food to steel exports to construction to gift shops to vacation resorts. Along the way, growing up, I learned a lot about the hard work, determination, persistence, and true grit it takes to build a business from the ground up. After graduating from Duquesne University with a BS in Business Administration and English, I joined a “startup” specialty financial consulting firm, that supported litigation efforts across the country with manufacturers, utility companies, and a variety of other types of clients. Continuing my education with an MBA from CMU Tepper, I embarked on a diverse career with a Fortune 100 company, Xerox Corporation, along with entrepreneurial endeavors at the same time. My experience at Xerox included financial analysis, business development, mergers and acquisitions, and strategic planning.
I then had the opportunity to return to the Pittsburgh region and lead an international manufacturer and distributor of polyurethane millwork building materials for home construction, commercial projects, and building renovation. This was very unlike a major corporation and much more entrepreneurial: I had to be chief strategist, product manager, business development director, and negotiator. I learned what it takes to build and expand long-term customer relationships; coordinate manufacturing resources between domestic capacity, a controlled Indian subsidiary, and 2 Chinese manufacturing partners; direct product development/commercialization; lead mergers, acquisitions, and exits; negotiate union contracts; develop new markets. This experience allows me to share passion and knowledge and empathy with the new pioneering technology entrepreneurs and the dedicated manufacturers of our region.
When I am not at Innovation Works or AlphaLab Gear or traversing the 9 counties, I am busy being a mom to my 4 kids, financial advisor to my dentist husband, and supporting educational initiatives.