Both tech CEOs are of Indian origin and both of them have been awarded Padma Bhushan in the 'trade and industry' category.
On the eve of India’s Republic Day, India announced Padma Bhushan, the country’s third-highest civilian award for Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
The award also went to Tata Sons chairman Natarajan Chandrasekaran and the heads of India’s two biggest Covid-19 vaccine makers – Cyrus Poonawalla of Serum Institute of India (SII) and Krishna Ella and Suchitra Ella of Bharat Biotech.
The Padma Bhushan is India’s third-highest civilian award behind the Bharat Ratna and the Padma Vibhushan.
Announced on the eve of the Republic Day every year, these awards are for exceptional and distinguished service in art, social work, public affairs, science and engineering, trade and industry, medicine, literature and education, sports and civil service among others. Microsoft and Alphabet are among the top five companies by market capitalization in the world. Both tech CEOs are of Indian origin and both of them have been awarded Padma Bhushan in the ‘trade and industry’ category.
Born in July 1972 in Madurai, Sundar Pichai excelled in studies at his school — the Jawahar Vidyalaya in Chennai — and earned a seat at the (Indian Institute of Technology) IIT-Kharagpur, where he completed his B.Tech in metallurgical engineering.
During the course he won a scholarship to study materials science and semiconductor physics from Stanford University from where he went on to complete his M.S. While he had planned to pursue a PhD from Stanford, he dropped out and joined Applied Materials as an engineer and product manager. He eventually quit and pursued an MBA from Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 2002.
Pichai joined Google as the President of product management in 2004. He was entrusted initially with Google Search toolbar and also went on and took charge of the search, Maps, research, Google+, Android, Chrome, infrastructure, commerce and ads, and Google Apps. Interestingly, Pichai was also the one at Google who came up with the idea of developing Google’s own browser.
In 2015, he was made the CEO of Google just when the company restructured to create Alphabet as the umbrella organization. Under his leadership, Google has been focused on developing products and services, powered by the latest advances in cloud computing and artificial intelligence.
On December 3, 2019, Pichai was finally named the CEO of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, and stepped in to take over from Google cofounder Larry Page.
Sundar Pichai practices what he preaches. One of his major leadership strategies is: “To not only see your own success, but to focus on the success of others.”
Sundar believes, it is the job of a leader to build on and assist others in the best way possible to accomplish their goals. By setting up collaborative cultures Sundar has successfully incorporated this leadership strategy throughout Google.
Satya Nadella, born on August 19, 1967, grew up in Hyderabad. He then went to earn his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Manipal Institute of Technology before heading to the US for higher education.
In the US, Nadella completed his master’s degree in computer science from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee and then earned an MBA degree from Chicago Booth School of Business.
The current Microsoft CEO joined the company as a young engineer in 1992. At that time, Microsoft’s founder Bill Gates was the CEO of the company. Initially, Nadella worked with Microsoft’s television projects and Windows NT operating system.
It was in 2000 when Nadella finally got an executive post when he was appointed as vice president of Microsoft Central. The next year Nadella was promoted to the vice president of Microsoft Business Solutions wherein he spearheaded numerous acquisitions for the company. In 2007, he became the senior vice president of Microsoft Online Services where he was given the responsibility of heading Microsoft’s search engine Bing, gaming device Xbox Live, and enterprise tool Microsoft Office.
Finally, in February 2014, Nadella was appointed as the CEO of Microsoft after the then CEO Steve Ballmer had announced his resignation in August 2013. Since Nadella was appointed Microsoft’s CEO, he has changed the direction of the company. He has established long term partnerships with Apple by releasing the Microsoft Office App for iPhone, acquired LinkedIn and also embraced the Linux operating system. Any big organization is just one bad leader away from becoming a stultifying bureaucracy. “Everyone needs to their best, lead and help drive cultural Change, he believes.
Nadella’s leadership styles have enabled Microsoft to re-emerge as an innovative and exciting tech company.
Becoming the leaders of the world’s most influential companies is by no means an easy task. The reason why their success needs to be celebrated is that these leaders have made an incredible mark in the world of technology – practised their unique leadership style and technique – while playing a vital role in the growth of their respective organizations. As India-born leaders in global companies who have made it big in the world of computing and technology have indeed made us proud.