Why big tech companies prefer Indian CEOs?

Indian born CEOs of big tech companies
  • Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, Google’s Sundar Pichai, and the top bosses of Twitter,IBM , Adobe, Palo Alto Networks, Chanel, VMWare and Vimeo are all of Indian descent. Indian- origin people account for just 1% of the US population and 6% of Silicon Valley’s workforce and yet are disproportionately represented in the top brass. Why?
  • For the most part, India send its best and brightest to the west, Numbers matter, and the fact is that India sends the highest number of students to the west next only to China. The big difference between Indian and Chinese students is , Indians are a little more familiar with English.
  • Plus, they are at ease with an open society, democratic institutions and a culture of debate and descent. Many of them come through one of the most brutally competitive educational system, illustrated by the legend of IITs, which has an acceptance rate of less than 0.5%. No surprise then that several CEOs, including Google’s Sundar Pichai , iBM’s Arvind Krishna, FedEx’s Subramaniam and Albertsons’ Sankaran are IIT-ians.
  • Indian-born Silicon Valley CEOs are also part of a four million- strong minority group that is among the wealthiest and most educated in the US. About a million of them are scientists and engineers.
  • In the wake of the civil rights movement of 1960s, national origin quotas were replaced by those that gave preference to skills. Visa system further narrowed it down to those with specific skills often in Science and Technology, engineering and Maths or STEM as the preferred category is known- that meet the US’s ” high end labour market needs”. This is the cream of the crop and they are joining companies where the best rise to the top.

An acceptance of change and uncertainty –

  • Every company is grappling with some form of disruption. Now picture India, a country of more than 1billion people, dozens of languages, uneven infrastructure. At every turn is uncertainty. This breeds both an acceptance of forces beyond our control and the need to preserve, despite them. It allows innovation and patience with process to co-exist in a cooperative industry.
  • There are more obvious reasons as well. The fact that so many Indians can speak English makes it easier for them to integrate into the diverse US tech industry. And Indian education’s emphasis on Science and Maths has created a thriving software industry, training graduates in the right skills which are further buttressed in top engineering or management schools in the US.
  • Humility, loyalty and consensus-building. Because they have come up, for the most part, through the adversarial circumstances and a tough grind, Indian CEO tend to be consensual, and genial. e.g. Satya Nadella is credited for completely changing Microsoft’s hard-charging culture he inherited from Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer.

And finally, India and America :

  • india and America are worlds apart, but what is common to them is the ability to embrace diversity and dissent. They are both plural, secular, multi-religious societies.
  • Another perspective that can be looked upon the growth rate and opportunity the Indian market has to offer to foreign companies. In order to enter into the Indian market, global companies need someone who is well aware of the market scenario and can help in seamless operations within India. Hence hiring a Indian CEO gives the company an extra edge to move further.
  • Indian CEO s of US -headquartered firms is a strong reaffirmation of the US ‘s meritocracy and it’s truly global outlook – especially when it comes to business. Not just allowing, but enabling the best talent to rise to the very too- irrespective of race, nationality or unfamiliar accents
Sodhi Gautam

Sodhi Gautam

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