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First India, Next the World: Madhumita Gupta’s Story of Determination and Drive (from the ADST)
May 5, 2021
2:58 pm
Tish Butler
Forum Posts: 75
Member Since:
April 22, 2016
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Madhumita Gupta had a long and successful career serving as a Foreign Service National with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Her background and upbringing played a key role in making her the person she became. She grew up in a household that was constantly brimming with knowledge.

Her father was proficient in economics and government, which led to the family moving around a lot and thus exposing Gupta to many new and different situations. Gupta’s father also had some high-profile friends, such as Dr. Kenneth Arrow, Dr. Amartya Sen, and Professor Leontief—all of whom are Nobel prize laureates. As a young woman experiencing this during her formative years, Gupta was always learning new things and this segued perfectly into her professional life. As a career Foreign Service National with USAID, she worked in many different sectors and places, with her determination and drive always pushing her towards success. All of this came together to create a unique, successful, and impactful career.

Madhumita Gupta’s father taught her many things, but it was her own discipline and drive that led to her success. She wanted to be an economist, like her father, and she notes that although he was supportive he tried to dissuade her—most likely because “he knew the frustrations of being an economist.” She pursued this interest, studied economics at American University, and received her Masters in Business Administration from George Washington University. However similar their passions, Gupta worked tirelessly and achieved everything she did on her own merit; her father always taught her to be “self-taught and self-made” and did not want his position as a well-known economist to be the reason she was able to get positions. This gave Gupta the ambition to work hard, and stands as a true testament to the idea that working hard can lead to great rewards.

What did this success look like? In this “moment” in U.S. diplomatic history, we explore the motivations and career insights offered by Madhumita Gupta. Although she had a lengthy career that took her to many different countries, one of her favorite places remains her home country of India. She worked for numerous employers in India before joining USAID. She served in the Technical Assistance and Support Project (TASP) beginning in the 1990s, which helped the government of India (GOI) across a large number of sectors, including enacting change in economic policy and helping India find new state-level partners. This is just one example of career success; but her enthusiasm, drive, and “self-made” attitude certainly proved to be a common theme and driving force in her fruitful career.

Madhumita Gupta’s interview was conducted by Alexander Shakow on November 29, 2016.

Read Madhumita Gupta’s full oral history qt

Drafted by Charles Gfeller

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