The rise of India-born CEOs in Silicon Valley

Product Chief Sundar Pichai was announced as the next CEO of Google on August 10, 2015
Product Chief Sundar Pichai was announced as the next CEO of Google on August 10, 2015PHOTO: AFP

As India-born Sundar Pichai, 43, takes charge as the new chief executive officer (CEO) of Internet giant Google Inc, he joins an illustrious list of other Indians who have been elevated as head honchos of multinational companies. Here's a look at other Indians who made it to the top in Silicon Valley:

Satya Nadella 
Microsoft CEO


Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speaks at Lenovo Tech World in Beijing. PHOTO: REUTERS

Born in Hyderabad in southern India, Satya Nadella is Microsoft's third ever CEO. He has a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the Manipal Institute of Technology and a Master's in computer science from the Univeristy of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He later attended the University of Chicago for a Master's in Business Administration. When he joined Microsoft in 1992, he was on track to get his master's degree. Rather than choose between the two, he did both. He has steered Microsoft away from selling on-premises software to cloud services. He has also released Office apps for the iPad and Android, and publicly embraced platforms like the Mac and Linux.

Shantanu Narayen
Adobe president and CEO

Also hailing from Hyderabad, Shantanu Narayen studied electronics engineering at Osmania University in his home city before moving to the United States to acquire a master's degree in computer science and another in business administration.

Mr Narayen started his computer graphics career in Apple, and then climbed up the ranks of multiple firms before joining Adobe in 1998 as vice president of worldwide product research. He was one of the driving forces behind Adobe's US$3.4 billion acquisition of multi-media company Macromedia in 2005 before being CEO of Adobe in 2007.

Rashmi Sinha
Slideshare CEO

Born in the north Indian city of Lucknow, Rashmi Sinha is one of the rare chief executives who did not study business or information technology at university level. Instead, she has a doctorate in psychology from Brown University. She only switched to computer-related courses when attended the Unversity of California, Berkeley, for a postdoctorate, where she switched her focus to human-computer interaction. She then started her own user-experience consultancy and developed MindCanvas, a game-like tool for user research. Ms Sinha and her husband built SlideShare, a site for people to share presentations online, in just six months. Since its launch in 2006, more than 9 million presentations have been uploaded to SlideShare, helping professionals connect through content. LinkedIn acquired SlideShare for over US$100 million in 2012.

Rajeev Suri
Nokia CEO


Nokia's Chief Executive Officer Rajeev Suri poses prior to his hearing at the French National Assembly in Paris on June 16, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

Rajeev Suri was born in 1967 in New Delhi, raised in Kuwait, became a Singapore citizen and is now based in Espoo, Finland. He studied electronics and communications at the Manipal Institute of Technology, of which Mr Nadella is also an alumnus. He is a rare corporate executive who has a bachelor's degree but did not do a master's in business administration. He had a number of jobs in India and Nigeria before joining Nokia in 1995. He had multiple roles within the organisation spanning business development, marketing, sales and strategy, while based in India, Finland, the United Kingdom and Singapore. He was named CEO last year after Stephen Elop stepped down.

George Kurian/Thomas Kurian
NetApp CEO/Oracle president

Identical twins George and Thomas Kurian come from the Pampady region in Kerala but grew up in Bengaluru (Bangalore) city in southern India. They are alumni of the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (now Chennai) but both left the prestigious Indian school within six months after gaining admission to Princeton University. Thomas graduated with a BA in electrical engineering summa cum laude, while his twin George attained the second-highest distinction. Their career achievements, too, ran parallel. George was appointed CEO of NetApp, just six months after Thomas was appointed president of Oracle responsible for software development.

rupsk@sph.com.sg