Before Indra Nooyi became CEO of PepsiCo Inc or Vikram Pandit took the reins at Citigroup Inc there was Rajat Gupta, the original "global Indian" who was the first to head a major Western business.
More than 17 years after first being elected head of McKinsey & Co, the management consultancy, Gupta was charged last week in part of the same insider trading investigation that saw his friend, hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam, sentenced to 11 years in prison, the longest-ever sentence in such a case.
For hundreds of thousands of bright young men and women from India's huge middle class, Gupta and later Pandit and Nooyi were role models -- case studies of how learning and old-fashioned hard work could lead to success on a global scale.
"He kind of came to epitomize, if not exactly a rags-to- riches story, but more of how a person from a relatively humble background, out of sheer hard work and merit, could really rise to the top of the ladder," said Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, a political commentator.
Gupta was born in 1948, a year after India's independence, in what was then Calcutta and is now Kolkata. His journalist father moved the family to the capital New Delhi when he was five.
The young Gupta attended the prestigious Modern School, a sprawling campus in the center of the city, on a scholarship and his classmates included the sons and daughters of India's elite.
His father died when he was 16 and his mother, a Montessori school teacher, died two years later, leaving Gupta and two sisters and a brother on their own.