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Volume 22 No. 12
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Neera Mahajan Shetty, PGA Tour

Photo: Tracy Wilcox / PGA Tour

Neera Mahajan Shetty

Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, PGA Tour
Born: Cleveland
Education: B.A., Duke University; J.D. University of Texas School of Law

As a partner in a Jacksonville law firm, Neera Mahajan Shetty wasn’t looking for a new job and had no particular aspirations to work in sports when the PGA Tour came calling in 2008.

“Given my background, I didn’t have any connections to the sport and I’m not an athlete,” she said. “I didn’t know there was an opportunity for me. It certainly was not a straight path.”

Mahajan Shetty, a Houston native, knew a bit about the tour after doing some outside counsel legal work for the organization. Today, a decade later, she oversees four attorneys and 10 paralegals in her post.

It’s a critical behind-the-scenes position where she has distinguished herself in tackling matters including employment law, business litigation and other legal issues facing the tour.

She most recently helped win the dismissal of a class-action lawsuit filed by caddies alleging improper use of their likenesses and images. The dismissal was upheld on appeal last month.

“I handle some things that aren’t always pleasant,” Mahajan Shetty said. “A lot of what I try to do is make sure we are upholding our values and conducting ourselves in the most ethical and legal way. That is my role.”

— John Lombardo

Getting to know...

Attribute I look for when hiring: The ability to read the room and adjust the message based upon the audience.
Misperception of working in sports: That you must play competitive sports to have a successful career in it.
Woman in sports business I’d like to meet: Michele Roberts, executive director of the National Basketball Players Association. Being both a lawyer and a woman of color, her ascension in sports is particularly relatable to me. 
I wish I’d known at my career’s start: That it’s OK to not be confident about your long-term career goal as long as you are committed to your short-term goals.
Role of sports in social issues: Because sports can unite people of diverse backgrounds and have led the way on many social issues (e.g., inclusion of people of color), sports has the ability and perhaps the obligation to lead the way on those social issues that impact its athletes.