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With the appointment of Satya Nadella as chief executive officer, Microsoft has joined a growing club of multinational corporations run by Indian-born managers. The list includes Pepsi, Deutsche Bank, MasterCard, Adobe Systems, Diageo, London-traded consumer goods giant Reckitt Benckiser and semiconductor maker GlobalFoundries.
At first glance, the commonalities among Indian CEOs are not particularly informative. They're all in their late 40s and early 50s, the age when a successful manager's career can be expected to peak. All graduated from U.S. or U.K. universities in addition to their Indian schools -- no surprise, since all of them were immigrants who needed a stepping stone into a new culture. Those of them who had management experience in India started out with global corporations, which is logical given that it would have been harder to make the leap to global prominence from one of the family-owned companies that comprise about two thirds of Indian businesses. At least three -- Nadella, Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen and Prem Watsa, who runs Fairfax Financial, the would-be savior of Blackberry -- went to the same public school in Hyderabad, which experienced a technological boom around the turn of the century that included the establishment of Microsoft's first development center outside the U.S. By the time the boom developed, however, all three were long gone from their hometown.
In other ways, the executives' backgrounds diverge significantly. They come from different parts of India -- Jaipur, where Deutsche co-CEO Anshu Jain was born, is 1,300 miles away from Chennai, the birthplace of Pepsi's Indra Nooyi. A few of the CEOs -- Nooyi, Ajay Banga of Mastercard, Ivan Menezes of Diageo -- went to the Indian Institutes of Management, business schools set up by the Indian government since the 1960s to create a local management elite. Most did not. Some, like Nooyi, Narayen, Benckiser's Rakesh Kapoor and Nadella, studied engineering. Others, like Jain, Menezes and MasterCard chief Ajay Banga, are economics and business graduates.
Yet there must be a reason why so many Indians, and not, say, Brazilians, Russians or Chinese, have made stellar corporate careers. The answer might be found in studies of the Indian management culture.
According to research from St. Gallen University in Switzerland, Indian executives are inclined toward participative management and building meaningful relationships with subordinates. "The leadership style traditionally employed in India fostered an emotional bond between superiors and subordinates," the 2004 study said. "The feeling that the company genuinely cares for its employees, provided a strong bond of loyalty that went beyond financial rewards."
In the "Indian club," there are no executives known for a dictatorial management style. Nooyi says: "You need to look at the employee and say, 'I value you as a person. I know that you have a life beyond PepsiCo, and I'm going to respect you for your entire life, not just treat you as employee number 4,567.'"
When Nadella replaced Steve Ballmer at the helm of Microsoft, his high standing with the company's rank-and-file was cited as a major reason for his promotion.
A 2007 study by researchers at Southern New Hampshire University, which compared Indian managers to U.S. ones, found the South Asians more humble. It is not by chance that Nadella started his first e-mail to Microsoft employees as chief executive by saying, "This is a very humbling day for me."
The study also found Indians to be particularly future-oriented, focused on long-term strategies. Narayen of Adobe says: "If you can connect all the dots between what you see today and where you want to go, then it’s probably not ambitious enough or aspirational enough".
In his email, Nadella paraphrased an Oscar Wilde quote on the same point: "We need to believe in the impossible and remove the improbable."
Perhaps most importantly, the Indian managers get to the top because they persevere. Most of those I mentioned had the patience to rise through the ranks at their companies, learning their business thoroughly from every angle. Nooyi joined Pepsi in 1994, Jain took his first job at Deutsche Bank a year later, Menezes has been with Diageo since 1997, Narayen was hired by Adobe in 1998, and Nadella's appointment crowns a 22-year career with Microsoft.
There is nothing specifically Indian about empathy, humility, patience and an ability to dream. Yet it is these qualities that appear to have created the "Indian club" of overachievers in global business.
(Leonid Bershidsky writes on Russia, Europe and technology for Bloomberg View. Follow him onTwitter.)
To contact the writer of this article: Leonid Bershidsky at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Posted by Anonymous at 12:08 AM
Friday, January 24, 2014
India-born Stanford Professor wins 2014 Marconi Prize for WI-FI Technology - Sri Murali Mohan's articles
Unlike the average Indian techie who comes to the US young, typically straight out of IIT, Arogyaswami Joseph Paulraj was late, arriving here after a long career in the Indian Navy.
But his accomplishments are no less. On Tuesday, he picked up the $100,000 Marconi Prize for 2014, a top global honour in communications technology whose past recipients include Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page.
As a professor at Stanford University Paulraj, 69, pioneered a wireless technology — MIMO smart antenna wireless technology — that is now the backbone of high-speed Internet communication, 4G and every router.
MIMO stands for “multiple input, multiple output”, which speeds up data transfer by splitting up traffic into multiple channels.
“It has taken efforts of thousands of engineers and researchers to make MIMO technology a reality,” Paulraj said, adding, with refreshing humility, “My role, in comparison, is indeed small.”
“Paulraj’s contributions to wireless technology, and the resulting benefits to humankind, are indisputable,” said David Payne, chairman, Marconi Society.
Paulraj couldn’t be contacted but according to information available on Stanford University’s website, work began on the “smart antenna” project in the 1990s.
Paulraj came to Stanford as a visiting scientist in 1992 and stayed on to found two companies, which he eventually sold.
He started at the National Defence Academy, Kharakvasla, graduated in engineering from Naval college at Lonavala and joined the Navy as an engineer.
He went to IIT Delhi for a PhD, and collected many awards and honours along the way including military awards Vishist Seva medal and Ativishist Seva medal.
Paulraj went on to be awarded the civilian award, Padma Bhushan, in 2010 and the IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal and the Pan-IIT Technology Leadership Award in 2011.
“Paulraj is the only India-born scientist to receive both the Marconi Prize and the Bell Medal,” IndiaTechOnline.com editor Anand Parthasarathy told IANS in Bangalore.
And the accomplishment is even more remarkable for a man who picked up most of his skills in a country that is so dependent on IT technology imports.
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