Whoa: Archna Sahay is leaving city government - Technical.ly Philly

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Jun. 22, 2017 12:57 pm

Whoa: Archna Sahay is leaving city government

The Director of Entrepreneurial Investment is going to work with Jeremy Nowak. Here's a look back at some of her accomplishments.
Archna Sahay.

Archna Sahay.

(GIF via Forge Conference)

Any time city officials like Mayor Jim Kenney and Commerce Director Harold Epps get faced with a complex question regarding tech and entrepreneurship, their eyes scour the room for Archna Sahay.

But as of mid July, that’s not going to be the case. The StartUp PHL czar and Director of Entrepreneurial Investment announced Thursday she will be leaving her post after two and half years of being the point-person for the city’s efforts to promote entrepreneurial growth.

“Coming into this role I had a pretty clear idea of the things I wanted to accomplished in my time here,” Sahay told Technical.ly. “It’s been a great experience to work with the city and I hope I played at least a small part in making those things happen.”

What are some of those milestones? The former advisor to companies like Wells Fargo and Morgan Stanley quickly lists three off the top of her head:

  • Steve Case’s visit to Philadelphia
  • The announcement that Techstars will set up shop in Comcast’s new building
  • The heavy Philly footprint at SXSW 2017, which included Mayor Kenney

“It was a very difficult decision to leave Commerce and this role but the opportunity is amazing and I just couldn’t say no,” Sahay said.

What’s next for Sahay? Though she offered no specifics on what the role would entail, she says she’s going to work on a consulting project alongside executive Jeremy Nowak, the former president of the powerful William Penn Foundation who now leads his own firm, J Nowak Strategy. Nowak also heads up the board of directors of the Philadelphia Citizen.

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More on that project as details are made available but for the time being it doesn’t entail Sahay leaving Philly. She said she’ll still be “popping her head” at a few meetups, so it doesn’t look her ties to the tech community will be severed.

“I’m hoping to still be active and involved in the ecosystem,” Sahay said.

Sahay, 37, joined the city as a replacement for Rebecca Lopez-Kriss, who formerly held the title and was bumped up to Director of Marketing and Communications.

Despite the above accomplishments, Sahay sees two items still on her to-do list, which the city should be taking on: one is getting a big, national player the size of Google to set up offices in town (“Google still eludes me, but I think it’s still very much a possibility,” she said) and the other is to boost diversity in venture capital, particularly the lack of women in the VC space.

“I’d love to see more programming rolled out that supports diverse communities,” Sahay said.

As for the Commerce Department, Epps said in an emailed statement that a “far-reaching, open search” for a replacement would be set in place, with the goal of filling the spot by the end of the summer.

“We are thankful for all of the work Archna has done for this department and for Philadelphia tech, and wish her the best in her new role,” Epps said. “The Department of Commerce is lucky to employ many talented individuals, and the good work done by our staff does not go unnoticed – especially by the business community.”

Commerce spokeswoman Lauren Cox said members of the business development team will continue Archna’s day-to-day activities, with Senior Director of Business Development Dawn Summerville serving as main point person.

Before the curtain drops, some final words from Sahay for the tech community that she has rubbed elbows with since 2015?

“Thank you for everything,” Sahay said. “This has been one of the most amazing experiences of my professional career and I can say it has been personally rewarding. I’ve learned so much.”

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