Senate Commerce Committee
Mr. Arun Madhavan Kumar
Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Global Markets and Director General of the U.S. and
Foreign Commercial Service
International Trade Administration
US Department of Commerce
When I landed at Boston’s Logan airport the Labor Day weekend of 1978, I would not have
dreamed that 35 years later, I would be here in front of this august committee of the Senate
of the United States of America.
Three days later, on my first day at MIT, one of my classmates remarked that I seemed shellshocked. It must have shown on my face how different an experience America was for me.
This despite the fact that I had grown up on a staple of American history and literature,
from the ample shelves of the United States Information Service library in my hometown of
Trivandrum. I had been inspired by the accomplishments and eloquence of America’s
historic leaders – Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Lincoln. I had been moved by the words
of John F Kennedy and Martin Luther King.
If I seemed shell shocked then, today I feel a sense of awe and honor to be here in this great
city where many of those heroes influenced the trajectory of this great nation., I am
humbled to have this chance to talk to you of my interest in serving this great country that
has been my home for almost all of my adult life and has offerred me so many great
opportunities. I am deeply grateful to President Obama for nominating me and to Secretary
Pritzker for her confidence and support.
With me today, to share in this experience, are my wife of 35 years, Poornima and my sons
Ashvin and Vikram. Our entire life together, as a married couple and then as a family, has
been in this great country. A molecular biologist by training, Poornima has worked in the
biotech industry in California for the last 25 years. Our sons, Ashvin and Vikram, were born
in Palo Alto, California. Ashvin, lives in Mountain View, California, and is founder and CEO of
a Silicon Valley ecommerce company, and Vikram works here in Washington for an internet
company. Ashvin’s wife Melisa was born in Georgia, and is a physician in San Jose,
California. Ashvin, Melisa and Vikram are graduates of great American universities,
Stanford, Emory and New York University. In addition, my late father in law was a Fullbright
scholar from India and earned his graduate degree from Harvard University in 1955. Thus
three generations of my family have gained from the best of what America offers.
I am before you today as I feel impelled to give back to this great country. My late father,
who was a public servant in India all his life, and my high school headmaster both taught
that it is more important to give than to receive. It is in that spirit that I would like to pursue
this calling of public service.
My almost forty years of business experience, global orientation and engagement with
broad industry issues has prepared me for the role with regard to which I appear before
My experience comprises a blend of leadership roles in a large organization (KPMG, with
23,000 people in the US) and in entrepreneurial organizations in Silicon Valley. Prior to
KPMG, I was involved in founding three companies in Silicon Valley, covering the entire
cycle from the business plan stage through funding, staffing, product development,
manufacture and sales.
In my advisory career, I have worked with companies in North America, Europe and Asia. I
founded the US India Practice at KPMG, to assist US companies with their entry into the
Indian market and Indian companies with investing and operating in the US. I was a
member of the Board of Directors of KPMG Americas. Over the years, I have been involved
in business negotiations in the Americas, Asia and Europe.
As a member of the Board of Directors of the US India Business Council (USIBC), I have been
deeply engaged in the mission of promoting US exports to India.
In my new role, should I be confirmed, I will strive to execute our national priorities of
increasing exports as well as increasing the amount of foreign direct investment in our
country and our communities, both with the express purpose of creating valuable jobs here
In the past couple of weeks, I have had the opportunity to meet with a number of the
dedicated civil servants who constitute the leadership of the International Trade
Administration’s Global Markets and the US and Foreign Commercial Service. I find their
knowledge and desire to help American businesses succeed at home and abroad to be
inspiring. If confirmed, I look forward to having the opportunity to lead this organization
and will come to it with my global experience business background that I believe can help
enhance its effectiveness.
As the Assistant Secretary for Global Markets, should I be confirmed, I would like to
strengthen the focus on the markets offering the biggest opportunities for American
products and services, and on orchestrating efforts to increase our market share in those
markets. I would make sure that my organization fully embraces efforts to work with cities
and communities across this great country to attract foreign direct investment to create
high value jobs. The creation of high value jobs and the enhancement of our global business
are of critical importance to the well-being of our people, the strength of our economy and
our influence in the world. I would look to you for ideas, support and counsel to help Global
Markets contribute to its important goals in the service of our country.
Thank you for your consideration of my nomination. I am happy to answer any questions
you may have.