The country is celebrating a bunch of supremely talented Indians rising to top positions in multitiol companies, thereby breaking through glass ceilings and knocking down stereotypes. There was a time when Indians were considered merely excellent employees, in foreign technology firms particularly, for their professiol and English-speaking skills, their high aspirations, as well as their docile temperaments at work. But when it came to having that ‘extra edge’ or killer instinct, there were doubts whether Indians could mage a vast, competitive enterprise, let alone lead a start-up to the big league. With Silicon Valley in the US becoming the stage for one Indian entrepreneur after another to unveil their vision and leadership skills, there has been a sea change in perceptions. A study last year revealed that as many as 15 per cent start-ups in Silicon Valley were founded by people of Indian origin. Now as tech giant Google gives birth to a holding company Alphabet under whose umbrella it will work along with sister concerns, Cheni-born Sundar Pichai has been med as Chief Executive Officer of Google. An IIT-Kharagpur product with a metallurgical engineering degree, he armed himself with MS and MBA degrees from premier US institutes, before heading Google’s product magement and innovation teams. Pichai therefore has much in common with Microsoft CEO Satya della, who had led its ‘Cloud’ business for years, or Adobe CEO Shantanu rayen who has been the tech guru of a company known for its professiol software tools. Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri, Sun Microsystem co-founder Vinod Khosla or former CISCO chief technology officer Padmasree Warrior too are leaders respected for their engineering brilliance. The prime reason why these Indian technocrats were raised to the top jobs by their magements is said to be their hardcore engineering skills. They are top-class engineers first, magers later. Hailing from India, their understanding of emerging markets in developing countries is also highly valued in their companies, which after all have to tap such markets for worldwide domition. But another quality Indian CEOs are bringing into focus is very interesting — it is their ability to take others along and sharing credit, as well as maintaining a humble profile. In their own different ways, they are all showing that the ‘alpha male’, winner-takes-all mentality of leaders popularised in Western lore, has definitely become an achronism in today’s corporates run by participative magement.
Celebrating Indian CEOs