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Man of conscience

To many, Rajat Kumar Gupta is almost synonymous with McKinsey & Company, the consulting firm from where he retired as managing director worldwide in 2003 after 30 years of service. 'He is the best thing to happen to McKinsey since Marvin Bower's days at the firm,' Tom Peters, former partner at McKinsey and best-selling management guru, said of him at the time of his appointment as managing director.

That vision, integrity and creativity has stayed with Gupta in whatever he has done.
in his words
'You need the basic skills of consulting: problem-solving, interpersonal skills, developing relationship, serving clients, and so on. Then, you have to constantly think about how you can make a difference to the firm.'
Photo: John Thys /
AFP/Getty Images

A tribute to him came from President Bush recently when at a Rose Garden event, he congratulated Gupta for his compassion and concern. 'It is important for people who have been successful in the business world to contribute something back to society. Rajat, thank you for that spirit, and thank you for that compassion and concern,' the President said.

The son of a journalist father who worked with Bengal's Ananda Bazar Patrika group, Gupta was born in a middle-class Kolkata family in 1948. They moved to Delhi when he was six, and he went on to receive his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, in 1971. An MBA from the Harvard Business School came two years later. He then plunged into the world of management.

Although he continues to be Senior Partner Worldwide at McKinsey, he wears many other hats, involving himself with several non-profit institutions focused on education, health and development.

He is chairman of the board of the Indian School of Business; chairman of the Board of Associates at the Harvard Business School; and the United Nations Commission on the Private Sector and Development -- to name a few. He was also appointed by then secretary general Kofi Annan as his special advisor on United Nations reform.

Gupta -- seen here with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, right, and former Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio, left -- belongs to a select group of people changing the way America does business with the world. If the past offers us a lesson, it is that his role can only gain in importance.