New Microsoft chief underlines Indian-bred success abroad (Update)

Feb 05, 2014 by Aditya Phatak
This image provided by Microsoft on February 4, 2014 shows the new CEO Satya Nadella

India on Wednesday celebrated the appointment of Satya Nadella as the new chief executive of Microsoft, seeing it as another endorsement of home-grown talent that has risen to the top of the US corporate world.

Nadella, who became the giant company's third CEO on Tuesday, was born and grew up in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad and studied at Mangalore University before moving to America to further his studies and career.

"India makes a power point," said a proud front-page headline of the Times of India newspaper about the 46-year-old cricket lover's appointment.

"India has clearly emerged as the talent machine that is consistently churning out global CEOs," said the daily.

Nadella, who has spent nearly half his life working for the technology titan, follows a string of Indian-origin business leaders who have made it to prestigious chief executive positions.

They include Indra Nooyi at PepsiCo and Ajay Banga at Mastercard, while Vikram Pandit ran Citibank until late 2012. Further afield, Anshu Jain is currently head of German banking giant Deutsche Bank.

Uttam Majumdar, founder of Locuz Enterprise Solutions, a technology firm based in Hyderabad, told AFP that Nadella's appointment was "a matter of immense pride".

"He can be a role model for millions of youngsters. His appointment enhances the image of India as a nation in the eyes of the world," he said.

A talent exporter?

Vibhor Singhal, a Mumbai-based executive at brokerage PhillipCapital India, said a key reason for the success of India-origin executives was the "openness of the US economy in terms of accepting and allowing talent from outside to rise to the top".

Proficiency in the English language "also gives Indians an edge over the competition," said Vikram Dhawan, director of investments at financial research firm Equentis.

The South Asian nation produces about a million engineering graduates a year and has earned a reputation for its booming IT outsourcing business, thanks to its large educated workforce and low labour costs.

But many bright, middle-class youngsters leave the country due to a lack of well-paid jobs and difficulty getting places at prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT).

In some cases, studying in the US is a choice for those who fail to gain entry to the IITs where competition is fierce for limited places.

"Is the appointment of Satya Nadella a feather in India's cap or a slap in the face for the Indian system?" asked an editorial on the Firstpost online news portal.

It suggested that, rather than celebrate Nadella, India should question why so many talented figures flower overseas instead of on home soil where family connections are often as important as qualifications.

As in politics and Bollywood, corporate India has a tendency to keep top positions in the family, as has been the case with the Ambani, Tata, Birla and Mittal business dynasties, to name a few.

Anil Dharker, a Mumbai-based columnist on social issues, said however that there are signs of a "reverse brain drain", with some Indians coming back home and foreigners taking up posts in Indian companies.

"The world has definitely shrunk and people are much more fluid in their movements," he told AFP.

Outside of corporate boardrooms, Indian-origin families have thrived in the United States.

A 2012 report from the US think-tank Pew Research Centre showed the median annual income for Indian Americans was $88,000, much higher than the Asian American average of $66,000 and the overall US household median of $49,800.

Among Indian Americans aged 25 and older, 70 percent had obtained at least a bachelor's degree, above the Asian American share at 49 percent and far higher than the national 28 percent, the study said.

Nadella is faced with the challenge of revitalising Microsoft as the world shifts to a mobile Internet era, and some hope his knowledge of the Indian market could help boost opportunities for those in the industry at home.

"One of the best that the East had to offer was embraced by the West on Tuesday, and back home there are great expectations that the winds of change will blow here as well," said a story in The Economic Times.

Explore further: Reliance on smartphones linked to lazy thinking

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Top 5 items on Microsoft CEO's To-Do list

Feb 04, 2014

As with any new CEO, Microsoft's Satya Nadella will have a packed agenda that includes filling top management roles and re-examining strategy. The tech giant on Tuesday named Nadella to replace Steve Ballmer. ...

Nadella to head Microsoft; Gates leaves chair role

Feb 04, 2014

Microsoft has named Satya Nadella, an executive in charge of the company's small, but growing business of delivering software and services over the Internet, as its new CEO. Company founder Bill Gates is ...

India's Infosys recalls founder as woes mount

Jun 01, 2013

Infosys on Saturday reappointed co-founder N.R. Narayana Murthy to lead the Indian outsourcing giant two years after he retired, as the company grapples with weak earnings and falling market share.

India's Infosys names banker as new chairman

Apr 30, 2011

Infosys on Saturday named a prominent banker to take charge of India's second-largest software exporter as the firm struggles to boost performance in the face of slow global recovery.

Recommended for you

Why are women leaving the tech industry in droves?

8 hours ago

Ana Redmond launched into a technology career for an exciting challenge and a chance to change the world. She was well-equipped to succeed too: An ambitious math and science wiz, she could code faster, with fewer errors, ...

Reliance on smartphones linked to lazy thinking

Mar 05, 2015

Our smartphones help us find a phone number quickly, provide us with instant directions and recommend restaurants, but new research indicates that this convenience at our fingertips is making it easy for us to avoid thinking ...

Five stunners from the Geneva car show

Mar 04, 2015

Forget driverless cars, electric power or even green technology. There is no doubt what visitors are coming to see at the glamorous Geneva motor show: supercars.

Cash could be phased out within a decade, says expert

Mar 03, 2015

The rise of electronic currency will lead to the phasing out of physical cash in Australia within a decade, according to Professor Rabee Tourky, Director of the Australian National University (ANU) Research ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

BSD
not rated yet Feb 05, 2014
Where is the science in this article?
kochevnik
not rated yet Feb 05, 2014
70% of Indian school graduates aren't even qualified to have a job in India

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.