Syed Ahmed, founder of VDart Group, is seen at the first Lunar New Year reception hosted by the Bidens at the White House on January 26, 2023 in Washington, DC. Photo credit: Special Arrangements
The first Lunar New Year reception hosted by the US White House in Washington DC was a memorable occasion for Tiruchi-born Asian-American tech entrepreneur Syed Ahmed, one of the 100 guests at the formal event on January 26. was one of
“I’m still a little overwhelmed, because getting an invitation from the president of the United States is a big deal for an ordinary citizen,” Ahmed says in a phone interview. “The event was intended to celebrate the New Year’s traditions of people from Asian-American Pacific-Islander (AAPI) communities. It was one of several ethnic festivals the White House has hosted in recent years, to bring together the nation’s Multiculturalism can be emphasized.” they say.
Ahmed, who in 2007 founded VDart Group, a global digital talent management and consultancy based in the US city of Alpharetta, Georgia, was a rare Indian face in an elite gathering dominated by guests of Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese and Filipino descent.
“The majority of those invited were non-profits. [non-governmental organisations]. I represented the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), a non-profit that connects minorities. [people of African American, Hispanic, Native American, Asian Pacific, or Asian Indian ethnicity] with American corporations,” says Ahmed.
The dream came true
Along with NMSDC CEO and President Ying McGuire, Ahmed was invited to head VDart, one of the top performing companies among the council’s 13,000 member firms. The company has had a significant corporate presence in Tiruchi since 2010.
“To visit the White House and just be in close proximity to President Joe Biden is a great thing. To hear President Biden speak and interact with the guests, it was like a dream come true. Coming from Tiruchi like me. “Imagine a common man going to the White House. There might be a lot of companies and people more educated than me, but it was such a great honor,” says Ahmed.
Although the mass shooting during the Lunar New Year celebration in California shocked the nation just days before the White House reception, the US administration decided to go ahead with the event as planned. “President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden wanted to show the country’s resilience,” Ahmed says.
He later attended Vice President Kamala Harris’ Lunar New Year celebration at her official residence on January 31.
Guests were free to click countless photos in the grand reception rooms on the ground floor of the White House, once they had cleared the mandatory security check. “The Secret Service and US Marines were really polite and hospitable that day, and made the evening even more enjoyable,” says Ahmed.
Although the excitement at home, especially among his relatives in Tiruchi has not died down, Ahmed says his mother asked the most appropriate questions. “My family was very excited about the whole thing. But only mom asked, ‘What did the president say?’ And ‘Does he look the same in real life as he does on TV?'” he laughs.