Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft Corporation and the fourth most valuable conglomerate in the world, Satya Nadella regularly appears in lists featuring prominent global Indians. However, few know that he failed the IIT entrance test & wanted to work in a bank. Destiny, though, had other plans.
Nadella was born on August 19, 1967, to Bukkapuram Nadella Yugandhar, who was part of the Indian Administrative Services and Prabhavati, a schoolteacher. He studied at the Hyderabad Public School in Begumpet after which he pursued a Bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering from Manipal Institute of Technology. He then moved to the US to pursue MS in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and MBA from the University of Chicago.
Before joining Microsoft in 1992, Nadella was part of Sun Microsystems’s technology team. At Microsoft, he spearheaded the shift to cloud computing and helped form one of the world’s largest computer cloud infrastructures. He helped steer the tech giant, which was then losing out to competitors, completely around. Its market value jumped an astronomical $250 billion in only three and a half years.
Nadella attributes this meteoric rise in the company to his son, Zain, now 22, who has been the catalyst that unlocked his true potential. Zain was born to Satya and his wife, Anupama, with cerebral palsy. “For multiple years, I struggled with what had happened,” Nadella once said in an interview. However, his wife nudged him to feel things from Zain’s perspective instead of wallowing in self pity. This taught him empathy.
“Empathy makes you a better innovator. If I look at the most successful products we have created, it comes with that ability to meet the unmet, unarticulated needs of customers,” he said. Nadella also credits his often opposing family values to making him the man he is today. His father hung a poster of Karl Marx in Satya’s bedroom, hoping to steer him towards intellectual pursuits. To counter this, his mother hung a poster of Lakshmi, the Hindu Goddess of prosperity. However, Satya only dreamed of owning a poster of Test Cricketer, ML Jaisimha.
Charting a memorable path for himself, Microsoft employees gave him an approval rating of 95%, according to Glassdoor. In his 2017 book, Hit Refresh, he writes, “We sometimes underestimate what we each can do to make things happen and overestimate what others need to do for us,” which perhaps best explains his high approval ratings.
Under Nadella’s leadership, Microsoft’s latest next-generation Xbox will be launching in 2020 and will run on the Scarlett Cloud platform, touted to be the ‘Netflix of Gaming’.