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Sharma, Poonam 1977-

Sharma, Poonam 1977-

PERSONAL:

Born June 6, 1977, in NY. Ethnicity: Indian. Education: Harvard College, B.S., 1999; University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business, M.B.A., 2007.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Los Angeles, CA; New York, NY. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer, real estate developer. Previously worked in finance, including in a start-up, a nonprofit venture catalyst, a private equity firm, and in investment research and institutional sales.

WRITINGS:

The Harvard Entrepreneurs Club Guide to Starting Your Own Business, J. Wiley (New York, NY), 1999.

Chasing Success: Lessons We Can Learn from the Lives of Harvard's Entrepreneurs, American Book Publishing (New York, NY), 2004.

Girl Most Likely To, Red Dress Ink (New York, NY), 2007.

All Eyes on Her, Red Dress Ink (New York, NY), 2008.

SIDELIGHTS:

Writer Poonam Sharma grew up in Long Island, New York, before going away to boarding school in New Hampshire. After graduating from Phillips Exeter Academy, she continued her education at Harvard University, where she earned a bachelor's degree in economics. She began to write as part of her membership in the Harvard Entrepreneurs Club, in an attempt to do something fun and different, and perhaps meaningful. The result was her first book, The Harvard Entrepreneurs Club Guide to Starting Your Own Business, which was published when she was in her senior year at Harvard, and serving as director of the organization named in the title. Several years later, Sharma followed up her first effort with another inspirational business guide named for her alma mater: Chasing Success: Lessons We Can Learn from the Lives of Harvard's Entrepreneurs.

Sharma herself has worked for a number of start-up firms, some successful, some not, and acknowledges that risk of failure is simply part of the process. Following her graduation from Harvard, she worked for several firms, including a nonprofit venture catalyst, a private equity firm, and in investment research and institutional sales. She then decided to return to school, enrolling at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, where she earned her M.B.A. in real estate in 2007, with an eye toward becoming a real-estate developer. But even during this time, she continued to write, this time turning her eye toward fiction. This was the fulfillment of a longtime interest, one she had buried deep, as writing fiction would have been considered a less practical ambition and more frivolous achievement to her family than attending Harvard University and getting a good job. Sharma acknowledges that her strong drive and ambition as an entrepreneur stems in large part from her upbringing and her family's example, particularly her father's. In an interview for the Wharton Journal Online, she explained: "It comes from my father's inspiration. He was an engineer by trade in India and came to the United States to chase the American Dream. He took up several entrepreneurship ventures, ranging from contracting to restaurants to real estate development and assisted living. Entrepreneurship was a way of life for the family and my father never really looked at it as risk. He looked at it more as opportunity."

However, with her own entrepreneurial ambitions firmly developed, Sharma allowed herself the luxury of a writing experiment, and wrote Girl Most Likely To, a light, fun novel about a young Indian woman, Vina Chopra, working in New York City as an investment banker, who has determined it is time to settle down and find a husband. Her quest leads her through a series of "appropriate" men, ultimately causing her to question what she truly wants from her life. At the same time that Vina is searching for a husband, she finds herself dragged into a potential scandal at work, splitting her focus and causing her unending amounts of stress. While by no means autobiographical, the book does weave together many of the concerns in Sharma's own life, including cultural expectations, the pressures of working in finance, and interracial relationships. Jennifer Madsen, reviewing for the Romantic Times Online, found the story lacked a requisite amount of build up, as the events all seemed to be more or less equally weighted, but said of Vina that she is "someone nearly every reader can identify with in one way or another." Kristine Huntley, in a review for Booklist, remarked that "Sharma's debut novel features engaging characters." Writing for the Midwest Book Review Web site, Harriet Klausner remarked: "Sharma provides a fine character study of an Indian-American female who feels displaced at work, at home, and at life."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, March 15, 2007, Kristine Huntley, review of Girl Most Likely To, p. 32.

ONLINE

Midwest Book Review,http://www.midwestbookreview.com/ (December 1, 2007), Harriet Klausner, review of Girl Most Likely To.

Nirali Online,http://niralimagazine.com/ (May 21, 2007), Jaina Patel, interview with Poonam Sharma.

Poonam Sharma Home Page,http://poonam.info (December 1, 2007).

Poonam Sharma MySpace Page,http://www.myspace.com/poonamsharma (December 1, 2007).

Press Release News Wire,http://www.prweb.com/ (December 1, 2007), author biography.

Romantic Times Online,http://www.romantictimes.com/ (December 1, 2007), Jennifer Madsen, review of Girl Most Likely To.

Wharton Journal Online,http://media.www.whartonjournal.com/ (November 14, 2005), Pedro Mont, "Entrepreneur's Corner: Poonam Sharma."

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