Ethics Keynote Speaker and Consultant
Speaking and sharing my story heals my heart. In my soul, I know it is the right thing for me to do. We must be vigilant in our pursuit of being ethical. Things happen for us, not to us. If I can help one person, it will all be worth it.
Rashmi Airan, a first generation immigrant of Indian parents and the oldest of three daughters, was raised with high expectations to achieve. She had both professional and personal pressures. Rashmi's father came to the United States with just $8 in his pocket to attend school and achieve the American dream for the hope of a better life for his family. He obtained a masters degree and a doctorate degree in engineering and is now on his second career after obtaining a juris doctor and masters in law degree. In the Indian community, there is a strong desire to achieve good grades, go to the top schools, win awards, get hired by big companies, and make money.
In addition to being a mother of two, Rashmi was a successful lawyer who graduated with honors from Columbia Law School. After working for several major corporations, she launched an independent law practice in Miami, Florida. During the housing boom, she was recruited to work with a local real-estate developer who later engaged in questionable business practices. Rashmi’s drive to succeed financially and to give her children the best life possible created an ethical blind spot for her. She chose not to question her client’s behavior despite her inner voice screaming “ask questions!” Her involvement resulted in a six month sentence to Federal prison for bank fraud, alongside a $19M judgment against future earnings, required community service hours, and 3 years supervised release.
Before beginning her sentence, Rashmi’s community of friends and family embraced her. Though previously believing only a high level of success would make them proud, she now felt for the first time the true power of what building strong relationships meant. A close family friend remarked quietly “You will eventually learn that this is not happening to you, it is happening for you.”
In prison, Rashmi felt shame and remorse for her decisions. Taking in six months of federal prison life, Rashmi came to a place of peace and self-forgiveness. While being immensely humbled by this life-changing experience, she emerged with invaluable lessons learned both personally and professionally. Rashmi shares her emotional development of living with remorse, but not letting it define you. She is determined to create a culture of conversation around ethics and compliance and to integrate ethics into all aspects of our lives.
Rashmi is now a public speaker, sharing her story to illustrate the ethical perils that can result from a drive to succeed and the blind spots created when we are pursuing our goals. She speaks on the multitude of factors that influenced her decision-making, the ethics standards of a fiduciary, the consequences for breaching such a duty, the imperatives of an effective compliance program, embedding ethical vigilance into corporate culture, overcoming adversity and more. She mines her vast legal and business expertise and tells her powerful story to deliver game-changing messages to universities, law firms, corporations, global multi-nationals, and trade associations. Rashmi redefines what it means to be successful and the need for ethical vigilance in an American culture where success is often obtained by any means necessary.
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