Washington DC: From a small household in Kerala to the first woman chief economist of International Monetary Fund (IMF), Gita Gopinath has had quite an aspirational journey. She would also be the second Indian to take up the position at the IMF, after former Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan.

The John Zwaanstra professor of International Studies and Economics at Harvard University since 2015, Gopinath would replace Maurice Obstfeld, who retires in December. 

The 46-year-old spent her formative years in Mysuru with father TV Gopinath, a farmer and entrepreneur, and homemaker mother, VC Vijayalakshmi. She has spoken about her college days as being hugely influential. An economics graduate at the Delhi School of Economics and Lady Sriram College, she had said in an interview with The Economic Times, "When I was doing my bachelors from Delhi University, India experienced its first major external financing and currency crisis in 1990-91. This inspired me to pursue graduate work in economics and was the foundation for my interest in international finance."

Her recent accolade is by no means the first nor the last. Gopinath also holds the honour of being the third woman ever and the first Indian after Nobel laureate Amartya Sen to be appointed as a permanent professor at Harvard University's Economics department. 

She has also worked closely with the Indian government and served as the financial advisor to the chief minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan in 2015. She was also a member of the Eminent Persons Advisory Group on G-20 Matters for the Finance ministry.

Christine Lagarde, managing director, IMF says of her appointment, “Gita is one of the world’s outstanding economists, with impeccable academic credentials, a proven track record of intellectual leadership, and extensive international experience. All this makes her exceptionally well-placed to lead our Research Department at this important juncture. I am delighted to name such a talented figure as our chief economist.”