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Why are the CEOs of both Microsoft and Google of Indian Origin?

The concentration of top minds in a few schools and colleges is helping produce dense networks in a few industries. Again when these people come to the US, the network is far deepened as they have to find something to compensate the loss of their family and friends in India. The network is the key to corporate success and the reason why people are going to universities like Harvard.

India is producing a lot of executives for the same reason it is not producing enough Olympic medalists or Nobel prize winners. India’s top talent is highly concentrated in a few career paths and a few industries. Medicine, Software Engineering, Management, and Accounting are like the four cardinal directions in which India spends a lot of its energies on. An example of this concentration. From this one school in a southern city – Hyderabad Public School came CEOs of companies such as Microsoft, Adobe, Wipro, Fairfax Financials and Cofounders of companies such as Akamai.

The concentration of top minds in a few schools and colleges is helping produce dense networks in a few industries. Again when these people come to the US, the network is far deepened as they have to find something to compensate the loss of their family and friends in India. The network is the key to corporate success and the reason why people are going to universities like Harvard.

In the US, Indian immigrants possess a few advantages compared to their peers from elsewhere. Due to similar linguistic, legal and political systems, first generation Indians assimilate into the US society better than first-generation immigrants from other societies [in the second generation this lead probably vanishes]. Again, this assimilation is relative to other immigrants – accents and attitudes can still be quite different. While they are more assimilated, they also still have the advantages of the network that many immigrants possess along with the humility produced in a few through the hard ladder they climbed.

download (1)It’s meritocracy at its best.  India produces a large number of engineers and many of the best ones, who seem to graduate mainly from IITs, are heavily recruited by US tech companies. Back when I was in graduate school most of my Indian classmates were IIT graduates and they were generally very smart.  Quite a few were scary smart.

Even back in late 80’s when internet company was nonexistent, Indian engineers and scientists were hired in large number by leading tech companies of the day, IBM, HP, Intel,  etc.  One of the jokes at IBM San Jose/Almaden Research was that if you threw a rock, it would most likely hit an Indian.  I had an internship there.  All the full-time engineers in my group had PhDs and the majority of them were Indian.  I was the only one not having Ph.D.  My boss, who was an Indian, had two Ph.D. degrees.

In an industry that is mostly agnostic to race, color, or country or origin, and recruits anyone who is highly competent,  it’s natural and simply a matter of time before a few Indians make it to the very  top.  I cannot imagine this happens anywhere else.  Not in Japan.  Not in Europe.  At least not in the same scale of success that is prevalent in the US.

3 comments

  1. In the popular imagination, India is perhaps best known for its exports of curry, yoga, and Bollywood films. But another product is becoming a winner, too: chief executives of major multinational companies, including several based in the United States.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. India’s export share of Fortune Global 500 company CEOs — that is, CEOs who are heads of companies headquartered in a country not their own — is 30 percent. That places India in territory comparable to countries like Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Because of the visibility of these posts, the success of Indian-born chief executives in the cutthroat global arena is quite striking to their fellow Indians. To think that a country that until recently was considered synonymous with poverty and destitution is now producing world-beating chief executives at iconic global companies is a source of national pride.

    Liked by 1 person

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