Geetanjali Bhushan: Giving Up Is Not an Option

  • Print Page

By Anna Stolley Persky
January 22, 2018

Geetanjali Bhushan With members in all 50 states and more than 80 countries, the D.C. Bar is beginning a regular feature to profile the people who make up our community. Read about your peers, their lives, and their work around the world.

Geetanjali Bhushan knows from the twists and turns in her career that life does not always go according to even the best-laid plans.

“As they say, man proposes and God disposes,” says Bhushan.

Certainly, Bhushan, founder and chief executive officer of Solstrat Solutions, has had her share of successes. She has effectively represented clients in both the United States and India in legal, government affairs, and business matters.

But some of Bhushan’s career decisions did not pan out. At all. Before she became a lawyer, Bhushan thought she would go into the Indian Administrative Service. That didn’t work out.
Then she tried to start a creativity club for children, which also failed.

“I have often compared myself with those little ants that climb up the walls,” says Bhushan. “They climb the wall. They fall. They climb again. They fall again. They fall over and over, but eventually they make it up over that wall. That’s me.”

Bhushan says failure doesn’t stop her: “I just pick myself up and move on.”

In discussing both her failures and successes, Bhushan exudes confidence and joyfulness. As head of Solstrat Solutions, Bhushan advises companies navigating the business landscape in the U.S. and India. Her consulting firm helps companies target and receive state business incentive packages.

“My firm helps companies grow and expand in the U.S.,” says Bhushan.

Bhushan was born in India, the youngest of six daughters. Her parents had high expectations for their children. “My father and my mother had planned that we would all get good education, and they were very keen on us coming to the U.S. to study,” says Bhushan. “They had plans, big dreams.”

But then her father died suddenly when Bhushan was just six years old.

“Everything changed with my father’s death, and my mother had to adapt,” says Bhushan. “My mother had to suddenly raise six girls single-handedly at a time when the girl child was not the preferred child. So, sending the girls abroad to study became a distant dream.”

Nevertheless, Bhushan was able to pursue both college and post-college degrees. She received both her bachelor of arts and master’s degree in history from the University of Delhi. She tried a few career options and traveled a bit before deciding to pursue a law degree.

“I had originally been discouraged from becoming a lawyer because, at the time, many believed that law was not a good career for women,” says Bhushan. “But at this point, I decided it was the only option for me, so I went to law school.”

Bhushan graduated from the University of Kanpur in 1996. She is admitted to practice law in India, New York, and, most recently, the District of Columbia.

Bhushan started her career as a litigator for the Central Government Standing Counsel of India, before switching gears and going into corporate practice with Luthra & Luthra Law Offices in New Delhi. At that time, there was talk of the Indian legal market opening up to foreign lawyers. Bhushan decided she might “get a leg up” if she went to the U.S. to pursue an LL.M. The plan was to get a law firm job in the U.S., practice here for a few years, and then return to India with a new network of U.S. contacts in place.

In addition, Bhushan had recently lost her mother and wanted to fulfill her parents’ dream of studying abroad.

“I believe my mother would have been happy with this decision. I told my sisters that I wanted to study in the U.S., and they said ‘excellent decision,’” says Bhushan. “I could not have made any of the choices I made without their support. My sisters are my safety net. And my mother, even now, I can feel her watching over me.”

Bhushan earned her LL.M in international legal studies from Georgetown University Law Center in 2004. But, after that, things did not go according to her plans. Bhushan could not find a law firm job. However, she was unwilling to return to India without experience under her belt. Because Bhushan had learned how to network, she found employment, just not the type she had anticipated. She ended up at the Alliance for U.S. India Business, a startup she helped establish in the U.S. and India.

As vice president for programs and operations, Bhushan created alliances with law firms, public relations companies, and other industry associations. She lobbied Congress and Indian legislators on behalf of Indian and U.S. companies on a range of economic issues, such as legislation pertaining to privacy issues and immigration reform.

“I enjoyed my work,” says Bhushan. “I didn’t realize until I started this job that I am someone who loves human interaction. This country has also changed me. I used to be easily intimidated by people, but not anymore.”

In 2010 Bhushan returned to India to work in government affairs, where she had to “unlearn” everything she had learned in the U.S. about practicing law. For example, says Bhushan, a lot of time is spent in the U.S. teaching lawyers to write concisely. But in India, letters, for example, are “lengthy and detailed.”

After a few years back in India, Bhushan decided she was ready to return to the U.S., determined yet again to find a place for herself in the D.C. area. While building her firm, she did contract work, including document review, for law firms. Solstrat Solutions, based in New Delhi, also has an office in Washington, D.C.

“It excites me to help companies get state incentive packages. I enjoy getting states to compete against each other to offer the best package,” says Bhushan. “While I’m confident my business will succeed, I also know that if it didn’t work out, I would just pick myself up and start something new.