Richa Gangopadhyay and Joe Langella (both MBA ’17) came to Olin by way of unique and non-traditional back-stories—and both hoped to get a business degree that would guide their career transitions. Along the way, they found each other.
Joe made his way to Olin in 2015 after five years serving in the US Army in Afghanistan, the US and Korea. Richa brought with her five years of experience as an Indian film actress, model and motivational speaker. During that time, she was a lead actress in nine films and won six best actress awards in India—but her favorite part was traveling the world for shoots.
This January, the pair—who met during their second year as MBA students and have been dating ever since—announced their engagement. Their time at Olin was the beginning of that love story, according to Richa: “Although we had been classmates for an entire year before we uttered our first “hello” to each other, second year, second semester, we had so many wonderful memories and meaningful experiences at Olin together.” Richa told us all about their relationship—and where it all began, in the halls of Knight and Bauer.
On how they met—and started dating
Our very first hang-out session was with our mutual Olin friends, Jessica Hunt and Tyler Sellers, at ITAP! We clicked instantly and experienced the “magic” of the much-hyped Talayna’s together for the first time with a few more of our buddies. I think I want to say that was our first date, whether he agrees or not ;).
We soon discovered we lived down the street from each other, which obviously meant many more reasons to see each other! There were MANY brunches involved over the time we spent together, some of our favorites included Colleen’s, Half & Half, Rooster and Winslow’s Home. I think it was then that I realized he was just as big of a foodie as me and I secretly knew it was meant to be. Among other favorites were Taste, Gramophone and of course…Mission Taco!
I think our very unique backgrounds were one of the things that drew us to each other. While he was at the United States Military Academy at West Point, I was in India establishing my career as a film actress. He was an avid debater through high school and college, and that certainly showed during his participation in class, especially during Competitive Industry Analysis (CIA) with Professor John Horn.
I was initially more introverted when it came to class discussions, but always loved hearing what Joe had to contribute—he always managed to offer his inputs in a way that would make you think, and make you laugh. Needless to say, he has the gift of gab (which he will argue I have).
We both appreciated the small size of the MBA program, that really allowed us to get to know our faculty on a deeper level. I can speak for both of us when I say that we formed bonds we will never forget, and appreciated everything our student body and faculty did for our personal and professional growth over those two years. We are ever grateful for former Dean Gupta, Associate Dean Joe Fox, Sarah Miller, Laura Fogarty, and every single
professor and administrative staff that mentored and molded us into the business professionals that we are today and left a lasting impression in our hearts.
He is a natural born leader, which is evident by the roles he has had in the US Army. I had the honor of being Joe’s date for the 2017 Olin’s Veteran’s Association Military Dining Out, which he emceed. Joe spent much of 2014 and 2015 as a Liaison Officer for the Republic of Korea army. Something he became skilled at during his time there was a talent not many know about, and he is VERY humble about…DJing! Joe introduced me to a whole new world when it came to music, and I quickly became a fan of EDM and ’60s music because of him.”
On making it work after graduation
We started officially dating mid-second semester of our second year of the Olin MBA program. We weren’t entirely sure at the time whether we were going to invest in a long-distance relationship, but here we are, engaged two years later!
We graduated in May 2017 and parted ways. Joe left for Portland for his new role as a strategic finance analyst for business client platforms and commercial virtual reality group at Intel Corporation, and I spent my job-hunting transition period back home in Michigan. I accepted an offer with HM Health solutions after interviewing with Olin alumnus and current VP of Provider Practice Nikhil Mendhi in Pittsburgh that December, which was an amazing Christmas gift!
Little did I know that shortly after I signed a lease for a beautiful apartment downtown Pittsburgh, across the street from the Highmark HQ, I would be placed on a client project in Wyoming every week this past year! So I spent half of my weekends going back to my Pittsburgh home, and the other half in Portland with Joe, spending my weeks in Cheyenne, Wyoming, in between.
After crossing three time zones every week with 50-pound suitcases, I finally made the decision to relocate to Portland. So after two years of long-distance dating, we are finally in the same city and we couldn’t be more thrilled about it. Now we can plan for our cross-cultural, fusion Indo-American wedding in September this year, together!
On their engagement
Our engagement was very “us.” A few weekends ago, I was in Portland and Joe and I were
scouting out our next place to live, once his lease ends. I found this really adorable house I
wanted us to go check out, in one of our favorite neighborhoods on a hilltop, overlooking the entire city with views of Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens.
He agreed to take me to check out the house, and suggested stopping by at the Japanese Gardens on the way. I was in sweats and he told me to change into something “better.” I figured, since we were going to make a pit stop at the Japanese Gardens, I could wear this red geisha looking dress I had been wanting to wear forever. He gave me a weird expression once I changed and told me to change…AGAIN! SO I ended up wearing my usual go-to dress that I’m always comfortable in.
I was excited about seeing this house, and were almost there when Joe drove right past it and continued going to the top of the hill, at Council Crest Park. It was an incredibly clear, sunny day, and we could get a perfect view of the mountains, so he told me we would quickly go up to the courtyard and take a selfie. When we got up there, it was super windy so he gave me a big bear hug, and then dropped to one knee!
He asked me if I would marry him, and all I could do was tear up and giggle and shiver (because of the cold wind and nerves)! I, of course, said yes, and then he pointed to our friend, Kim, who he had coordinated with earlier, to take photos of the whole thing with her camera.
She was disguised in an oversized scarf and sunglasses so I couldn’t recognize her, but she did such an amazing job of capturing the moment—beginning to end—perfectly!
After that, it was group hugs, and balloons and happy tears. Thinking back on it, I don’t know why I didn’t figure out why he was making me change! We came back home to a beautiful flower arrangement that my parents had delivered to us- they had known the whole time and kept it as a secret from me! We celebrated that evening with our friends in Portland, including two that also got recently engaged, and it was wonderful.
On planning the wedding
Joe and I are going to be having a half-western-style, half-Hindu-Bengali wedding this
September in Michigan. It will consist of a total of five events, so a lot to coordinate! We are still in the preliminary phase of planning, but my mom, who lives in Michigan (but works in DC during the week), is helping me immensely by scouting out venues and planning every detail.
We are so excited to have our families—his from Nebraska, and mine from India—and friends celebrate with us during the beautiful end-of-summer/early fall season in Michigan. It is the most beautiful time of year there.
The most exciting part for us is the opportunity to combine two cultural traditions and get the best of both worlds that we grew up with, independently. I have always dreamed of a classic white-gown ceremony, and Joe is very excited about being part of all the Indian customs. Apart from that, I am also really excited about all the choreographed dancing that will be involved as part of the wedding events as I’ve been an avid dancer from a young age. And…excited that we have agreed on a location for our honeymoon!
We’re so thankful to Joe and Richa for sharing their story with us—and can’t wait to hear all about their upcoming wedding. Congratulations from all of us at WashU Olin and Happy Valentine’s Day!