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A reception to remember: Tiruchi-born tech entrepreneur’s memorable evening as a guest of the POTUS

Sidd Ahmed, founder of VDart Group, seen at the first ever Lunar New Year reception hosted by the Bidens at the White House in Washington DC on January 26, 2023.

The first ever Lunar New Year reception hosted by the US White House in Washington DC was a memorable occasion for Tiruchi-born Asian-American tech entrepreneur Sidd Ahmed, who was one of the 100 invitees to the formal event held on January 26.

“I’m still a little overwhelmed, because getting an invitation from the President of the United States is a big thing for an ordinary citizen,” says Ahmed over a phone interview. “The programme was meant to celebrate the New Year traditions of people from the Asian-American Pacific-Islander (AAPI) communities. This was one of the ethnic festive celebrations hosted by the White House in recent years, to emphasise the nation’s multiculturalism,” he says.

Ahmed, who founded the VDart Group, a global digital talent management and consultancy based in the US city of Alpharetta, Georgia in 2007, was a rare Indian face among the elite gathering dominated by guests from Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese and Filipino lineage.

“A majority of the invitees 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 US corporations,” says Ahmed.

Dream come true

Along with NMSDC CEO and president Ying McGuire, Ahmed was invited as the head of VDart, one of the best-performing companies of the council’s 13,000 member firms. The company has had a significant corporate presence in Tiruchi since 2010.

“Visiting the White House and simply being in the proximity of President Joe Biden is a huge thing. It was a like a dream come true, listening to President Biden speak and interact with the guests. Imagine an ordinary man coming from Tiruchi like me going to the White House. There may have been many more companies and far more well-read people than me there, but it was such a huge honour,” says Ahmed.

Though a mass shooting incident during a Lunar New Year celebration in California a few days before the White House reception had cast a pall on the nation, the US administration decided to go ahead with the event as planned. “President Joe Biden and the First Lady Jill Biden wanted to show the country’s resilience,” says Ahmed.

He later attended a deferred Lunar New Year celebration hosted by Vice President Kamala Harris at her official residence on January 31.

The guests were free to click innumerable pictures in the grand reception rooms of the White House’s ground floor, once they had completed the mandatory security checks. “The Secret Service and US Marines manning the areas were really polite and hospitable that day, and made the evening more enjoyable,” says Ahmed.

While the excitement has still to die down at home, especially among his relatives in Tiruchi, Ahmed says his mother asked the most pertinent questions. “My family was super excited about the whole thing. But only Mom asked, ’What did the President say?’ and ‘Does he look the same in real life as on TV?’” he laughs.

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