Indians cheer appointment of homegrown Microsoft chief

Mr Satya Nadella (centre), Microsoft's new CEO, addresses employees along with founder and technology advisor Bill Gates (left) and outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer (right) on the company's campus in Redmond, Washington, on Tuesday, Feb 4, 2014. India on W
Mr Satya Nadella (centre), Microsoft's new CEO, addresses employees along with founder and technology advisor Bill Gates (left) and outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer (right) on the company's campus in Redmond, Washington, on Tuesday, Feb 4, 2014. India on Wednesday cheered the appointment of Mr Nadella as the new chief executive of Microsoft, the latest example of an Indian-born exec rising to the top of the US corporate world. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

MUMBAI (AFP) - India on Wednesday cheered the appointment of Mr Satya Nadella as the new chief executive of Microsoft, the latest example of an Indian-born exec rising to the top of the US corporate world.

Mr 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.

It said the move "further strengthens multinationals' greater reliance on emerging markets like India", with the region increasingly looked at for "cultivating leaders".

Mr Nadella, who has spent nearly half his life working for the technology titan, follows a string of Indian-origin men and women who have made it to chief executive positions globally.

They include Mr Anshu Jain at the helm of Deutsche Bank, Ms Indra Nooyi at PepsiCo and Mr Ajay Banga at Mastercard.

Mr Vibhor Singhal, vice-president of IT research at PhillipCapital India, a brokerage, said a key ingredient to their success was the "openness of the US economy in terms of accepting and allowing talent from outside to rise to the top".

He added that Indians often have an aptitude for software because "we tend to think on a logical basis".

Mr Vikram Dhawan, director of investments at Equentis Research, a financial research company, said that proficiency in the English language "also gives Indians an edge over the competition".

Mr Nadella is faced with the challenge of revitalising Microsoft as the world shifts to a mobile Internet era.

"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.

Indian tech leaders also praised the appointment.

"I am very happy a person of Indian origin has been filling the shoes of Bill Gates, the finest entrepreneur and philanthropist the world has seen," Mr N.R. Narayana Murthy, co-founder and executive chairman of outsourcing giant Infosys, told the Business Standard newspaper.