by Charmaine Noronha
When Reetu Gupta (MBA ’08) was a young girl, she used to play at being a hotel manager – not a stretch when you consider that she grew up in the hospitality industry. Her father, Steve Gupta, is an immigrant from India who purchased his first Canadian hotel property more than 40 years ago. His Easton’s Group of Hotels – one of Canada’s largest private hotel development companies – currently owns and operates 17 properties in Ontario and Quebec, with another five in development.
As his daughter, Reetu began working at the company from a young age, starting out as a receptionist before progressing to accounting and payroll. Later shifting over to the hotel division, she again worked at the front desk before transferring into sales. Gupta learned on the job, and from the ground up. Today, she is chairwoman and ambassadress of The Gupta Group, a family business with more than $1 billion in assets and over 3,000 employees across the company’s vast holdings in real estate development, hospitality, venture capital and mining. “I grew up loving hotels and learning about them from such a young age from my dad,” says Reetu, 39. “I always aspired to own hotels.”
To sharpen her business skills, in 2008, she enrolled at the Schulich School of Business to take the accelerated MBA program, which she completed in eight months. Returning to work within the year, Reetu applied what she had learned at York University, including establishing a diversity and inclusion program open to all company employees.
In 2017, with brother Suraj K. Gupta, she founded Rogue Insight Capital, a private venture capital firm supporting Canadian startups that are mainly led by women, immigrants and visible minorities. More recently, she created Project Lotus, a women’s mentorship program to help employees develop their careers. Today, largely as a result of her efforts, her company takes pride in having a staff that is representative of over 79 countries and an executive team that is more than 60 per cent female.
In 2019, and again in 2020, Reetu received a Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 BMO Entrepreneur Award. In 2022, she joined the board of the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation in Toronto. Her philanthropic projects include building solar-powered schools in a Ugandan refugee settlement.
“I’m a woman, and a woman of colour,” she says. “Those are my secret powers, what makes me unique.” ■