New York, June 15: The conviction Friday of the one-time poster boy of Indian business in America, Rajat Gupta, on charges of securities fraud marks yet another phase in his roller coaster ride from an orphan to lofty board room to convicted felon.
Ironically, Gupta’s fall from grace was brought about by another Indian American, Preet Bharara, nicknamed the “Sherriff of Wall Street”, for leading a wave of insider trading probes over the last two-and-a-half years.
“Having fallen from respected insider to convicted inside trader, Gupta has now exchanged the lofty board room for the prospect of a lowly jail cell,” as Bharara succintly summed it up after a federal court jury convicted Gupta on three counts of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy.
Born in Maniktala, Kolkata Dec 2, 1948 to a freedom fighter journalist Ashwini Kumar Gupta, Rajat became an orphan at the age of 18 as his parents died one after the other within two years.
His upward journey began after he received a B.E. in Mechanical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, in 1971 and chose to go to Harvard Business School, where he was named a Baker Scholar.
Gupta joined McKinsey & Company in 1973 as one of the earliest Indian-Americans at the consultancy. Starting his career in New York, he moved to Scandinavia to become the head of McKinsey offices there in 1981. Elected senior partner in 1984, he became head of the Chicago office in 1990.
In 1994, he was elected the firm’s first managing director born outside of the US, and re-elected twice in 1997 and 2000. In this capacity, Gupta was recognized as the first Indian-born CEO of a global corporation.
After retiring from active practice, while maintaining an affiliation at McKinsey, Gupta served as corporate chairman, board director or strategic advisor to a variety of large and notable organizations.
These included Goldman Sachs, Procter and Gamble and American Airlines, and non-profits including The Gates Foundation, The Global Fund and the International Chamber of Commerce.
Rajat Gupta is additionally the co-founder of four different organizations — the Indian School of Business, the American India Foundation, New Silk Route and Scandent with various partners.