In India, would-be Microsoft CEO showed inquisitive streak

MUMBAI Fri Jan 31, 2014 10:18pm IST

The Microsoft logo is displayed on a Nokia phone in Vienna September 3, 2013. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader

The Microsoft logo is displayed on a Nokia phone in Vienna September 3, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Heinz-Peter Bader

Stocks

   
Polluted waters of China

Polluted waters of China

Growing cities, overuse of fertilizers, and factory wastewater have degraded China's water supplies to the extent that half the nation's rivers and lakes are severely polluted.  Slideshow 

MUMBAI (Reuters) - In his university days in India, Satya Nadella, likely the next chief executive officer of Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O), was a relentless questioner.

"When all other students will quietly listen to what I would teach, he will ask a lot of questions - 'why does it have to be like this, why can't we do it like this?'," said Harishchandra Hebbar, who taught digital electronics to Nadella at Manipal University.

"Sometimes it felt like he was just testing my patience," said Hebbar, laughing.

That questioning nature has served Nadella well in his 22-year career at Microsoft, the world's largest software company. Last year he was promoted to run the company's fast-expanding cloud, or Internet-based, computing initiatives.

His elevation to the top spot at Microsoft would end a five-month search for a tech-savvy heavy-hitter to lead the company co-founded by Bill Gates. A source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Thursday that Nadella's appointment was likely, although the board had not yet met to finalise it.

Nadella grew up in Hyderabad, a technology hub that is home to the biggest Microsoft research and development centre outside of the United States.

His father was a member of the elite Indian Administrative Service and a member of the Planning Commission during 2004-2009 under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. His father, B. N. Yugandhar, who still lives in Hyderabad, declined to speak with Reuters when reached by phone.

Born in 1967, Nadella attended the prestigious Hyderabad Public School, where he met his future wife. Nadella studied electronics and communication engineering, at Manipal University, where people who knew him at the time described him as friendly, modest and well-spoken.

Manipal is a mid-ranking private institution, and does not have the cachet of the elite Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and Indian Institute of Management (IIM) where many of India's global power players were educated.

GLOBAL INDIAN

If he gets the top job at Microsoft, Nadella would join the growing list of Indian-born executives to head a major global corporation. They already include PepsiCo Inc (PEP.N) CEO Indra Nooyi and Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) co-CEO Anshu Jain.

After graduating in 1988, Nadella, like many ambitious Indians, moved to the United States to study, earning a master's degree in computer science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Ganesh Prasad, a classmate of Nadella at Manipal who remains in touch with him, recalled a conversation in 1991 when Nadella was working at Sun Microsystems.

"We were having a conversation and talking about Sun as the future of hardware ... and he was like: 'you know where I need to go? I need to be in software and I need to be in marketing and I need to be in Microsoft'," Prasad recalled by phone from Bangalore, where he now lives.

Prasad, who worked for 20 years in the United States with Intel Inc (INTC.O), said Nadella started with a base in technology and then became interested in how to market it - a skill set that will be called upon in his new role.

By comparison, Microsoft's previous CEO, Steve Ballmer, was regarded more as a salesman and cheerleader than a technology visionary.

"While he comes from a very strong technology background, his outlook over the years has changed to: 'so, what, what am I going to do with this thing? How do I position it? How do I make sense of it all?'," said Prasad.

(Additional reporting by Devidutta Tripathy in NEW DELHI; Editing by Tony Munroe and Andrew Hay)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Top News

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Kerry's India Visit

Kerry's India Visit

Kerry presses India on WTO deal ahead of arrival  Full Article 

Big Infra Deal

Big Infra Deal

Piramal, Dutch APG tie up for $1 bln infra investment  Full Article 

E-Commerce

E-Commerce

Amazon says to invest $2 billion more in India   Full Article 

Lupin Results

Lupin Results

Q1 net profit up 56 percent on higher U.S. drug sales   Full Article 

L&T Slumps

L&T Slumps

L&T earnings raise 'multiple red flags' - Citi  Full Article 

Twitter Results

Twitter Results

Twitter assuages growth concerns for now as shares soar 35 percent  Full Article 

Auto Sector

Auto Sector

VW closes in on Toyota as global auto leader  Full Article 

Fed Meeting

Fed Meeting

Fed seen trimming bond buys, could offer vague rate clues  Full Article 

Gaza Conflict

Gaza Conflict

Israel strikes house of Hamas Gaza leader, digs in for long fight.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage