March 4, 2019
WBJ Hall of Fame

After rising from homelessness, Mitra wants to give back

Photo | Matt Wright
Dr. Satya B. Mitra

Dr. Satya B. Mitra is a biochemistry whiz turned tax and investment expert, whose pathway to the American dream started at rock bottom.

In India, his mother died when he was only 3. After that, his father became ill, lost his eyesight and was forced to stop working at the age of 42.

"There was a time when we had no place to live," Mitra said.

To create an opportunity for himself, he hit the books and won scholarships in India.

The entrepreneur earned his doctorate in biochemistry in India, came to the U.S. with $6 to his name and landed a job at the University of Louisville School of Medicine in 1976. He moved to Worcester in 1982 to be a research scientist with the EG&G Mason Research Institute.

In New England, the business culture is more robust than Kentucky, he said.

"Everyone started asking me to invest," he said. "I didn't know anything about this."

He began taking tax and finance, investment, and tax law classes at then Worcester State College. In 1989, he took the rigorous Special Enrollment Examination from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, seeking a license as a nationally authorized tax agent. At the time, only 5 percent of exam takers passed in one shot.

"I had no chance," Mitra said. "I had two sons and a full-time job."

Still, he wanted to try, and he passed all four parts of the exam on his first try.

A career change

After Mitra received a blessing from his guru, Sri Sri Mohanananda Maharaj, the man of Hindu faith opened Guru Tax & Financial Services in a small 80-square-foot office in his basement. Initially, business was slow, and Mitra had no clients.

His older son would sit by the window and watch cars drive down the street, hoping they'd slow down and pull in for some tax or investment help.

His wife, Sheema Mitra, helped and raised the couple's two sons so Mitra could focus on his work.

In 1994, Maharaj asked him to quit his career in science to focus on tax and investment work.

Despite some apprehension and concerns he wasn't secure enough financially to leave a well-paying job, he jumped into his new career at his guru's urging.

"It was really a bombshell," Mitra said. "If he says something, we can't deny him."

Now, Mitra's firm is on the 16th floor of the Worcester Plaza Tower. He has more than 500 clients in 26 different states and multiple countries, but each gets the same amount of attention.

Kathy Roseen, a Grafton resident, first met Mitra as a single mother of four in 1991 when his firm was still in its infancy. Over time, with Mitra's help and investment expertise, Roseen and her new husband Bruce retired early and are more than comfortable.

Mitra "invests in you as a person," she said. "He cares about each one of his clients personally, doesn't rush you and doesn't send you some gigantic bill."

Right way, she knew he was a family man, as his two young sons were running around and hiding between file cabinets in the basement office.

Years later, Roseen said her relationship with Mitra isn't just business. Rather it feels like the families grew up together. The first conversation in his office usually has nothing to do with finance or taxes.

"His greatest desire is to bless other people with that which he and his family have been blessed," she said.

In the last few years, Mitra has been focused on serving the community. He sits on about 10 boards in the city, including the Worcester Planning Board, Mechanics Hall and the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce.

He stared a charitable foundation – Joy Guru Humanitarian Services – Mitra describes as the ultimate goal given to him by his guru, who died in 1999.

"We're trying to follow up on that promise we made to him," Mitra said.

The foundation's work includes feeding the homeless, offering services to the blind population and funding a school of self defense for women. The ultimate goal is to build an international humanitarian center to combat homelessness, blindness and drug abuse.

"This is the greatness of this country," he said. "I am a living beneficiary of the community's choice to help people."

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