Anupam Puri and Rajat Gupta
From Rajat Gupta's interview in Business Today.
What is your relationship with Tino Puri?
Tino has meant more to me than anyone else at the Firm. He's been my big brother and my mentor for 20 years now. He was the senior-most Indian here when I joined. Whenever I need personal advice, I turn to him.
A brief biography of Puri from Patni Computer Systems' 2004 website. (Patni is an outsourcing firm.) follows:
Profiles of newly appointed directors to Patni Computer Systems’ board:
Anupam Puri, 58. Anupam Puri, has an M. Phil. and a Master of Arts in Economics from Oxford University and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Delhi University. Mr. Puri was previously a director and elected member of the board of directors of McKinsey & Company. During his 30-year tenure, he served in a number of global companies and government and led the development of McKinsey’s India practice and oversaw their Asian and Latin American offices.
Anupam ‘Tino’ Puri had joined McKinsey in 1970, apparently right after school. Since he was the senior-most Indian there and Rajat Gupta joined in 1973, they should have been among the very few Indians there at that time.
Unlike the current software jobs where most Indians are allowed to mix with other Indians like cattle, management consulting (and investment banking, law and a few others) is a very coveted profession, especially at a place like McKinsey. After a few years as associates, only about 10% of them manage to become principals. The rest are let go. Obviously associates are very careful in dealings with others and in their junior positions don’t have time to guide or mentor others since surviving themselves is quite challenging and time-consuming itself.
Minorities like the Indians are still more careful nurturing relationship with other minorities, from my observation. In past, when I have been interviewed at a few non-software companies, for some reason the companies were reluctant for me to meet with the rare Indians there. Perhaps, they wanted unbiased evaluation of me! Even in graduate school, one has to be very careful as I have learnt from my experience.
In early seventies, when you are one of those rare minorities working for an elite company like McKinsey, the last thing you want is to let the partners get the feeling that you are too friendly with "your people" thus jeopardizing your chances of continuing with the firm. However, Puri indeed was very friendly with Gupta. Apart from the fact that both came from Delhi, my guess is that it was because it was actively encouraged by the senior partners of the firm, especially the real "mentor" of Rajat Gupta – "Ron Daniel, who then ran McKinsey's New York office."
(Last Updated: February 21, 2004.)