Indian women who embody the spirit of the American dream


As the much-anticipated visit of Ivanka Trump to India to talk about women and women entrepreneurship draws closer, we look at some successful female entrepreneurs from the USA. These are women of Indian origin who have made a name for themselves in the US in the past few decades. 

Other than those listed below, there are also some other women of Indian origin who have been a force to reckon with, such as Indra Nooyi, the PepsiCo honcho, and Seema Verma, the entrepreneur now serving in the Trump administration as the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Neerja Sethi, Syntel

Last year Neerja Sethi was ranked 16th on Forbes’ ‘America’s Richest Self-made Women’ list. Indian-born Neerja is the Co-founder of IT consulting and outsourcing firm Syntel which she started in 1980 with her husband, Bharat Desai. She is currently on the Board of Directors.

The couple started with an initial investment and churned $30,000 in their first year. In 2012, with an annual revenue of $700 Million, the company crossed the 21,000 employee mark.

Neerja completed her undergraduate degree in Mathematics from the University of Michigan and holds an MS in Computer Science and an MBA in Operations Research.

Jayshree Ullal, Arista Network

Jayshree is the President and CEO of Arista Network, a Santa Clara-based computer networking company started in 2008. In June 2014 she led Arista Networks to a successful IPO at the NYSE.

Born in London, Jayshree grew up in Delhi. She did her schooling in India from the Convent of Jesus & Mary in New Delhi and holds an undergraduate degree in Electrical & Electronics Engineering from San Francisco State University and a postgraduate degree in Engineering Management from Santa Clara University.

She spent almost a decade-and-a-half at Cisco which she joined in 1993 as Senior Vice President. Before that, she was at Crescendo Communication, as Vice President of Marketing. The company was acquired by Cisco in ’93.

Along with Neerja Sethi, Jayshree was also featured on the ‘America’s Richest Self-made Women’ list, where she ranked 30th.

Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan, Drawbridge

This accidental entrepreneur is the Founder of Drawbridge, which she started in November 2010. Drawbridge is an anonymized cross-device identity company building technology that fundamentally changes the way brands connect with people.

Before she set out on her entrepreneurial journey, Kamakshi – straight out of Stanford – went to work as the lead engineer at AdMob, which was acquired by Google in 2009. She is an alumna of Boston and Stanford University.

Drawbridge has raised funding from VC firms like Sequoia Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Northgate Capital, and Mitsui & Co.

“Running a business is just a collection of millions of tiny risks, and everything you will ever be proud of – you will see that it was achieved as a result of a risk gone right,” she had said in an earlier interview with YourStory.

Payal Kadakia, ClassPass

Payal Kadakia figured in Fortune magazine’s list of 10 most promising women entrepreneurs of 2015. In her mid-30s, Payal is the CEO and co-founder of ClassPass, a New York-based startup that gives customers access to thousands of boutique fitness classes in their area. The company was started in 2010 and has raised $84 million in five rounds of funding.

Payal holds an undergraduate degree in Management Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Rashmi Sinha, SlideShare

Rashmi Sinha started SlideShare in 2008. She was the Co-founder and CEO of the company. In 2012 LinkedIn acquired SlideShare, and Rashmi continued to run SlideShare as a unit of LinkedIn after the acquisition. She looked at the product, technology, and the marketing teams. She also worked closely with the LinkedIn leadership team to keep Slideshare aligned with the overall strategy of LinkedIn.

Since 2014 she has been an independent “entrepreneur-at-large”. However, SlideShare was not her first company. She was previously also the Founder of Uzanto, a user experience consulting company which she ran from 2003 to 2006.

Rashmi holds an undergraduate degree in Cognitive Science and a PhD in Cognitive Neuropsychology from Brown University.

Even though the land of opportunities gave these women a step-up, they still had to grab onto whatever chances came their way to solidify their names in the ranks of business.

If you think there are other Indian-American women who should definitely be on this list, do let us know in the comments.


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