Srirupa “Sri” Dasgupta spends a lot of her time among the digital, academic, culinary and social enterprise worlds.
Dasgupta, who spent years working for technology companies before becoming director of web content and multimedia at Franklin & Marshall College, also co-owns the Lancaster social enterprise business Upohar, with chef Christina Maldonado.
At F&M, Dasgupta, 54, of Lancaster, oversees a team that handles the website, social media strategy and video production for the college.
"It's a technical position," Dasgupta said, "but is has communications, it has marketing, it has art and design elements folded in."
Upohar is comprised of the Upohar vegetarian restaurant on New Holland Avenue, a full-service Global Flavors Catering operation and the Lancaster Central Market stand Christina’s Criollo, featuring Puerto Rican cuisine.
After hearing Nobel Peace Prize-winning economist Muhammed Yunus speak at the Lancaster Chamber dinner in 2008, Dasgupta started searching for a problem she could solve locally by founding a business.
"I realized you can have a traditional business, but it is also possible to have a business that solves a social problem," Dasgupta said. She asked herself, "What social problem do I have the skills to solve?
"And the social problem, during the recession, was job creation for people with some kind of barrier ... like a language barrier, or a criminal record or coming out of addiction or homelessness," she said.
So she started Upohar as a restaurant in 2011, first hiring refugees to staff the eatery and cook cuisine from their home countries.
"I could understand that experience of relocating to a new country, having to adjust to a new culture," Dasgupta said.
Drawn to the concept of studying at an American liberal arts college, Dasgupta came to the United States from Calcutta, India, in 1984 to study computer science and studio art at Smith College in Massachusetts.
"I had never been exposed to computers," Dasgupta recalled. "But once I started doing it, I really liked the logic and algorithms and writing an algorithm that was the simplest solution from A to B."
After college, "I didn't know what I wanted to do, so I got a job at a software company doing programming," she said. "And I loved it so much and I thought I would stay and do this some more. I stayed 11 years.
"The family expectation was that I would go on and get a master's degree and what-not," she added. But she realized "this theoretical thing is not for me. I'm a hands-on kind of person."
Dasgupta worked for many years in computer programming, software development and management before becoming certified as an executive and business coach, and running her own business coaching and consulting company.
She met her husband, Franklin & Marshall biology professor Pablo D. Jenik, at a dance that was part of a tango workshop she took while living in Massachusetts.
My family consists of: Husband, two teenage kids, two middle-aged cats and one lizard.
Growing up, I wanted to be: A CEO. My grandfather, father and all my uncles owned their own businesses, so I imagined that I also would own my own business. My grandfather had three businesses, one of which was a dairy farm with an ice cream shop. I liked the ice cream shop a lot, so I thought it would be nice to own a similar business. Later, I changed my plans to become a CEO of a big company.
My first job: My first job was as programmer at a healthcare software company (I double majored in computer science and studio art). I wrote decision support software in FORTRAN, which was used by hospitals to analyze their financial information.
Best movie I've seen recently: “BlacKkLlansman.” I watched this on a plane during my recent trip to India. I get to catch up on movies during our long international flights. On our trips to India or Argentina, I usually watch four to six movies (10 hours is a long time on a plane).
Favorite kind of music: Argentine tango. I used to dance tango five days a week when I was younger. I don’t dance much any more, but I listen to the music often and get in some floor time whenever we go to Argentina.
The best thing about my job at F&M: Being part of the F&M community.
The best thing about running Upohar: It’s a creative outlet for me. I use all my interests and skills in this business — art, design, communications, strategy, logistics.
The most challenging thing about running Upohar: Coordinating staff, because everyone has a unique challenge.
Something you’ll always find in my refrigerator: Milk
A book I’d recommend: “The World is made of Stories,” by David Loy. I'm fascinated by narratives and how our narratives influence how we perceive our world.
A TV show I'd recommend: I don't watch TV. When the kids were small, we had no time to watch TV so we canceled the service and lost the TV habit.
Favorite way to spend a day: Hanging out in the sun doing nothing — it’s a nice change from constant “doing.”
The best gift I’ve ever received: A card with words that reflected my emotions back to me. I felt understood.
The person I’d most like to have dinner with: Barack Obama. I’d love to have met with Nelson Mandela.
Favorite vacation spot: Any place were I can just “be” (and I don’t have to do anything).
Three words that best describe me: Doer, dreamer, efficient. I'm always “doing” something — I live in action. And yet, I’m also dreaming and imagining possibilities. It may seem contradictory, but I seem to find a way to do both! I didn’t realize how quickly and efficiently I can get things done, and that not everyone can do this, until I was told this by multiple people (I thought everyone did things the way I did). So now I have come to believe that in fact, I am very efficient.