US Senate confirms Indian-American to key trade job

Washington, March 15: The US Senate has confirmed yet another Indian-American nominee of President Barack Obama to lead the trade promotion arm of the US Commerce Department charged with helping US companies succeed in markets around the world.

Kerala University physics graduate Arun Madhavan Kumar was confirmed to be assistant secretary of commerce and director general of the US and Foreign Commercial Service by a voice vote Wednesday along with Puneet Talwar, a longtime White House national security staffer.

As the State Department’s new assistant secretary for political-military affairs, Talwar would be serving as a bridge between the State and Defence departments.

He becomes the third Indian-American in a top position at the State Department after Nisha Desai Biswal, point person for South and Central Asia and USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, highest ranking Indian-American in Obama administration.

At over two dozen, Obama administration boasts of having the highest number of Indian Americans in key jobs than any previous administrations in US.

During his confirmation hearing, Kumar told the Senate Commerce Committee that he would “like to strengthen the focus on the markets offering the biggest opportunities for American products and services, and on orchestrating efforts to increase our market share in those markets”.

Kumar, who succeeds another Indian American, Secunderabad-born Suresh Kumar, was earlier a partner and member of the Board of Directors at KPMG LLP.

From 2005 until his retirement in September 2013, Kumar led the firm’s West Coast Finance Management Consulting practice.

He also led the firm’s US-India practice from 2007 to 2013. Kumar joined KPMG in 1995 as a finance management leader. From 1993 to 1995, Kumar was the founder and CEO of Planning & Logic, Inc., a software company.

Prior to that, he was co-founder and CFO of Netlabs, Inc. from 1991 to 1993; the CFO of Elite Microelectronics, Inc. from 1990 to 1991; and the director of planning and management information at Silicon Graphics, Inc. from 1989 to 1990.

From 1980 to 1984, he was the controller of Elxsi, Inc., and from 1984 to 1988 co-founder, CFO, and vice-president of operations for Cydrome, Inc., a mini supercomputer company.

Kumar who received a B.Sc. in physics from the University of Kerala, India, went on to get an SM in management from the Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

He is married to Poornima Kumar, a molecular biologist. The couple has two sons, Ashvin and Vikram.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

IANS