Alumna Takes Atypical Accounting Path to Arrive at SoulCycle

Sameera Desai Sullivan ’05, G’06 turns her accounting degree into a global career in fashion and fitness.
Alumna Takes Atypical Accounting Path to Arrive at SoulCycle

This is an excerpt from the profile about Desai in The Scranton Journal.

As the chief accounting officer and global controller for SoulCycle — a fitness studio that offers cycling classes, fitness apparel and an at-home exercise bike — Sameera Desai Sullivan ’05, G’06 keeps the company’s finances in order. But the job is not just about the numbers for her: It’s a lifestyle.

She takes their classes on her bike at home, where her husband has also gotten into the cycling workouts. And when she is in the office, Desai often takes a mid-day break for a class (especially if the playlist has Beyoncé or Jay-Z on it).

“It is such a big part of the culture at SoulCycle HQ: You’re having a tough day, go ride. And when I come back, I feel a little bit differently. We use riding as a way to motivate and relieve stress,” she said, an embodiment of the company’s mission to provide fitness experiences that benefit the mind, body and soul.

SoulCycle’s mission is not unlike The University of Scranton’s commitment to the development of the mind, body and spirit of its students. And, though she’s Muslim, it is that Jesuit character that appealed to Desai when she was choosing a college.

“The concept of cura personalis was instilled in me throughout my education. It made me a well-rounded student and professionally ready to enter the world. I was then able to share all the experiences from the foundation that Scranton set,” she said.

She was born and raised in Zimbabwe, where her mother worked for the United Nations. When Desai was 17, the family moved to New Jersey for her mother to work at the UN headquarters in New York City. The University’s proximity to her family and its Jesuit ideals made it a natural choice.

These days, she’s back in New York City, since SoulCycle is headquartered in the West Village. She initially joined the company in February 2019 to help expand the international footprint in the UK by opening the first SoulCycle studio in London.

Desai, who also holds an MBA from Scranton, started her accounting career at PwC, recruited by fellow Scranton alumni who were partners at the New York City office. But since then, her career path has been atypical for an accounting major.

Desai joined SoulCycle after eight years of working in finance at fashion and beauty brand Marc Jacobs, where she finished her tenure as vice president of finance, global controller. That international experience — plus the French minor she took alongside her accounting major at Scranton — made her a great fit as SoulCycle expanded outside the U.S.

Continue reading about Desai in The Scranton Journal, here.

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