Finding her place in the automotive aftermarket industry: Pragati Upadhyay 

September 12, 2023

Passionate about customers and creating strong relationships, Pragati Upadhyay found her way into the automotive aftermarket industry right after completing her MBA. By learning new industries, adapting to life in Canada, and an extensive education, Pragati feels at ease in the auto care industry. Eager to connect with peers and create a more diverse industry, Pragati Upadhyay is just getting started.

Pragati Upadhyay  

National Accounts Manager at Wakefield Canada

How long have you worked in the automotive industry? 

My career in the automotive aftermarket started 13 years ago—right after I completed my MBA. I joined Castrol India Ltd. in 2010 and worked there until I moved to Canada. As I was looking for my first opportunity in Canada, I accepted an offer with Total Energies, where I worked with automotive aftermarket distributors and customers. I worked there for five years.  

What company do you currently work for? What is your position? 

I joined Wakefield Canada in 2021, managing distributor partners, OEM, Jobbers and ASP. In 2022, I took on the role of National Accounts Manager. As the National Accounts Manager, I take care of our key retail partner, the Canadian Tire Corporation. I manage Canadian Tire retail, auto services, and Partsource for Castrol and the SuperClean brand.  

Where did you attend school? What is the highest level of education? 

I received my MBA degree from Jaipuria Institute of Management, India, and my Bachelor of Science and Mathematics from St. John’s College in India. 

Did you know you wanted to work in the auto care sector? 

To be honest, no. I like to think the auto care sector chose me! After completing my MBA, I worked for a construction company, but at the time, it was not the right fit for me. I was actively looking for a change when a recruiter reached out to me about a position with Castrol at British Petroleum (BP). 

Soon after I started working with Castrol, I fell in love with the company as a brand, the culture of BP, and the aftermarket industry in general. While there were some challenges—the industry in India is very fragmented and being a woman in a male-dominated industry is not easy—but working in the industry felt natural.  

I met many incredible people within the organization and outside the organization who treated me with respect. I feel comfortable and at ease working in the automotive aftermarket industry. 

How long have you been a part of Young Professionals in the Aftermarket community? 

I have been in the Young Professionals in the Aftermarket (YPA) for about 10 months. 

What does your participation in the Young Professionals in the Aftermarket mean to you? What would you like to see us as a committee achieve in years to come? 

Being involved in the YPA is an excellent opportunity to learn, network, and feel connected with the industry.  

In the future, I would like to see the YPA encourage more young professionals to make a career in the automotive aftermarket, as well as to mentor and nurture young talent across the country. I would also like to see the YPA work towards improving gender diversity and inclusion in the industry. 

Have you had an industry mentor? If so, who and why? 

I have been lucky to meet many great people and coworkers throughout my career and have learned something from each and every one of them. My peers have guided me through the industry and have always been open to offer me advice and helped me grow, both professionally and personally. It would be challenging to name one mentor, as many have had a significant impact on my career. 

What is one of your proudest moments in your career so far? 

One of my proudest moments was when I won the “Ambition Challenge” at Total Energies in 2017 in Munich, Germany. The Ambition Challenge was to be the top 2 sales performers in each of the winning countries across the Americas.  

Being an immigrant, I found it challenging to start my career in Canada in the auto care industry—despite me being part of one of the biggest brands in India (Castrol) and one of the biggest players in the industry (British Petroleum). It did take some time to get the right opportunity, but I was able to obtain the same work profile at Total Energies and ended up being one of the highest performing salespeople in the company. 

What is one of the biggest and/or most difficult lessons you have had to learn as a young professional? 

Early on in my career, I realized that if you are good at what you do, opportunities will come your way and help you choose your career path. I started my career in construction, which was a great learning opportunity, but it was not my passion. I realized my passion when I joined Castrol. I never would have imagined myself being a sales professional, but Castrol has allowed me to figure that out and it has been a great journey since. 

What advice would you give someone either starting in the industry or looking to transition into the industry? 

Embrace every opportunity with a curious mindset, focus on learning industry fundamentals with strong product knowledge, and develop genuine relationships with people. I would also say that it is important to be customer-centric and create a brand for yourself. 

What as the make and model of your first car?

VW Polo, 2012 

What are you terrible at, but love to do anyway? 

Singing and dancing 

What is your favourite way to spend a day off? 

Spending time with my three-year-old son 

Where is the next place on your travel bucket list? 

Italy and Greece 

What causes are you passionate about? 

Children and education 

About Wakefield Canada Inc. 

Wakefield Canada was founded in 2005 as BP/Castrol’s exclusive strategic partner in Canada. Since then, our company has continued to drive business and brand growth.  

Wakefield is a Platinum Club member of Canada’s Best Managed Companies. Platinum members have maintained their Best Managed Status for seven years or more. 

Wakefield’s brand portfolio includes Castrol premium lubricants, Castrol EDGE, GTX Magnatec, GTX, Vecton, CRB, and more. Wakefield is also the exclusive trading partner in Canada for SuperClean, a line of cleaners and degreasers. 

Find out more about careers at Wakefield Canada

About the Young Professionals in the Aftermarket Committee 

Young Professionals in the Aftermarket (YPA) is an Automotive Industries Association of Canada (AIA Canada) committee comprising of young executives, of 45 years or younger, in the Canadian auto care sector. The Committee’s mandate is to ensure the future growth and prosperity of the aftermarket industry. 


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