01 Jun 2002

Up to the Challenge: Ipsita Dasgupta - Global Perspective, Local Results

by Julia Hanna


Ipsita Dasgupta is truly a citizen of the world. The Calcutta native speaks six languages and has lived in Sudan, Cairo, Jakarta, and Manhattan, thanks in part to her father's peripatetic career as a senior executive for Energizer. Her mother, a human rights activist and lawyer, has worked with underserved populations around the world. “At our house, every dinner table discussion was like a BGIE class,” Dasgupta laughs. “I grew up influenced by both my parents — I'm very interested in the private sector but have always had a strong development focus.”

“At our house, every dinner table discussion was like a BGIE class.”

“At our house, every dinner table discussion was like a BGIE class.”

After graduating from Columbia University with a double major in economics and mathematics, Dasgupta worked in Boston as a consultant for Arthur D. Little. She then applied to HBS, citing the School's mission to create socially responsible leaders as “a huge pull.”

“I knew most of the students would be more interested in private-sector concerns than international ones,” says Dasgupta. “But as future leaders, I also realized they would affect development in countries all over the world. I wanted to try to influence their thoughts on that subject.” The HBS classroom offered the ideal setting for that give-and-take of ideas. “There's nowhere else that you can get such an honest snapshot of what people are thinking,” she says. “Business school is about learning how to interact with different people and maintaining a strong knowledge of who you are.”

Last year, in conjunction with the School's Nonprofit and Public Management Summer Fellowship Program, Dasgupta worked with Women's World Banking to design and implement technology strategies at five Asian banks that provide microfinance to entrepreneurs. “People in developing countries grasp technology very quickly, but the big battle is literacy,” she remarks. Creating Web sites that use images and numbers instead of text is one tactic for crossing the digital divide, says Dasgupta, as is microfinance, which helps bridge the education gap by giving entrepreneurs access to capital regardless of the level of their formal schooling.

While her interests are clearly international in scope, Dasgupta has also devoted much of her time to activities at the School. She has served as section officer and copresident of the HBS International Business and Development Club, cochaired Orientation, and acted as a key liaison in negotiations between students and administrators in the adoption of a new pilot program — Curricular Practical Training. The program allows international MBA students to pursue summer employment in the United States without dipping into the twelve-month employment limit of most student visas. “I learned so much about the School and how much integrity and honesty there is in everyone here,” she observes of the process.

Dasgupta hopes to start a development project in India over the summer, and in the fall she will be working in Boston as a strategy consultant for IBM Strategy and Change. “I think I will always be involved in economic development in some way,” she remarks, crediting her mother as a major source of inspiration. “She's worked behind the scenes on a volunteer basis, and she's taught me so much about listening to and connecting with people,” says Dasgupta, who seems well on her way to continuing the family tradition.

Featured Alumni

Featured Alumni

Class of MBA 2002, Section B
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