Indian Trailblazers at the Helm of Global Enterprises
Multinational corporations always favor hiring young, talented Indians for senior management positions. When individuals of Indian descent are added, the list grows larger.
Some of the world's most brilliant minds have emerged from India over the years. India and individuals of Indian descent have gone on to manage some of the most successful businesses and companies in the world, from tech geeks making their names known throughout Silicon Valley to tycoons who lead some of the most renowned conglomerates. Indian business leaders have left their mark in global giants, including IBM, Cognizant, and Adobe, followed by tech giants like Google and Microsoft, mobile giants like Nokia, and content kings like OnlyFans.
15 Indian-origin CEOs Leading the World's Biggest Companies
Satya Nadella: Nadella is an Indian-born (of Hyderabadi descent) business executive and the CEO of the computer software giant Microsoft. Born and brought up in the Southern city of Hyderabad, Nadella earned a master's degree in computer science and business administration from the University of Chicago while working at Microsoft, where he developed Windows NT.
Nadella steadily advanced through the Microsoft management ranks. He had been given the title of vice president of the Microsoft bCentral small-business service by the year 1999, and two years later he was promoted to corporate vice president of Microsoft Business Solutions. He was promoted to senior vice president of research and development for the company's online services division in 2007, and from 2011 to 2013 he served as president of Microsoft's server and tools division, which had an annual revenue of almost USD 19 billion. In addition, Nadella served as executive vice president in charge of Microsoft's cloud computing platform, which served as the foundation for products including the Office 365 subscription-based services, the Xbox Live broadband gaming network, and the online search engine Bing.
He is the third person to hold the position of CEO in the company's nearly 40-year existence. One of Nadella's first major responsibilities was managing the USD 7.2 billion acquisition of Nokia Corp.'s mobile device division by Microsoft, a deal that had been announced in 2013 despite the objections of several Microsoft executives, including Nadella. In 2016, Nadella oversaw the purchase of LinkedIn, a social networking website geared toward business.
In 2017, Nadella, Greg Shaw, and Jill Tracie Nichols co-authored Hit Refresh: The Quest to Rediscover Microsoft’s Soul and Imagine a Better Future for Everyone. It discussed Nadella's life and his views on technology and leadership.
Sundar Pichai: Born in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, Pichai Sundararajan is an Indian-born American who is the CEO of both Google Inc. (2015- ) and Alphabet Inc. (2019- ). Pichai was educated at an early age, earning a degree in metallurgy and a silver medal at the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur. He then earned an M.B.A. from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He initially worked on the Google Toolbar, which enabled those using Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox Web browsers to access the Google search engine.
Over the next years, he was directly involved in the development of Google's browser, Chrome, which was released in 2008. He was then named vice president of product development and took a more active public role, becoming a senior vice president in 2012 and product chief two years later. Pichai was granted large financial packages to remain with Google and helped negotiate the USD 3.2 billion deal to acquire Nest Labs, leading to his appointment as CEO of Google and Alphabet.
Vasant Narasimhan: Vasant Narasimhan was born to Indian immigrants who were highly educated and encouraged him to pursue medicine. He studied medicine at Harvard Medical School and joined Novartis in 2005. He has been a leader in cultural transformation and helped the company build a medicine company powered by science and innovation. Narasimhan held various positions, including Vice President of Marketing, President of Vaccines in the US, Global Head of Biopharmaceuticals, Global Head of Development, and Chief Officer.
Shantanu Narayen: This non-IITian achieved success by refusing to accept anything less. The world’s largest and most renowned software company Adobe requires no introduction. Shantanu Narayen, the current Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Adobe attained his towering goals through perseverance, talent, and bravery. Shantanu Narayen has delivered the keynote address at several professional and academic gatherings. Shantanu, who holds five patents, is of the mindset that "If it feels right, it should work out."
Shantanu Narayen earned a Bachelor's Degree in Engineering from Osmania University, a Master's in Computer Science from Bowling Green State University, and an MBA degree from the University of California in 1993. Shantanu Narayen has won numerous awards and positions, including the AIF Business and Philanthropic Leadership Award, the honorary doctorate from Bowling Green State University, the advisory board of Barack Obama, the independent director of Pfizer, the vice-chairman of the US-India strategic partnership forum, the Global Indian of the Year, and the Padma Shri award.
Shantanu Narayen became the CEO of Adobe Systems in 2007, achieving great success. He was responsible for the acquisition of Macromedia and Omniture, as well as the move to a subscription business. His efforts have paid off, with Adobe now valued at over USD 200 billion. He is also a member of the board of directors and president of the Adobe Foundation.
Aravind Krishna: The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of IBM has managed the development and expansion of new markets for IBM in artificial intelligence, cloud, quantum computing, and blockchain as a business executive and technologist. He has also contributed significantly to the creation of novel IBM solutions and products based on this cutting-edge technology.
For his 30-year tenure at IBM, Arvind oversaw several daring transformations and produced measurable commercial outcomes. The largest software acquisition, the USD 34 billion acquisition of Red Hat, which established the hybrid cloud business, was most recently led by him. With their combined efforts, IBM and Red Hat let clients create mission-critical apps only once and execute them anywhere. Arvind pioneered IBM's hybrid cloud business, drove innovation in core and emerging technologies, and led IBM Systems and Technology Group's development and manufacturing organization. He also grew the IBM Information Management business by 50 percent.
Arvind is an outspoken advocate for learning at every stage of one's career, making scientific contributions in technical fields, founding IBM's security software business, and receiving distinguished alumni awards from both institutions.
Lakshman Narasimhan: Laxman Narasimhan is a CEO of Starbucks and a Group Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director at Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc, and is on the board of The Brookings Institution and Council on Foreign Relations, Inc. He has a graduate degree from the Joseph H Lauder Institute of Management & International and an undergraduate degree from the College of Engineering, Pune.
Narasimhan has focused on expanding its portfolio of health and hygiene products and has committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2040. This business executive has made significant contributions to the consumer goods industry, including being named one of the 100 most influential business leaders in the UK by the Financial Times. He has led Reckitt through a period of growth and transformation, expanding its product offerings and increasing its focus on sustainability, while navigating COVID-19.
Reshma Kewalramani: Reshma Kewalramani, M.D., FASN, serves as president and CEO at Vertex. Dr Kewalramani has devoted her professional life to enhancing patient lives, most recently for more than 15 years by creating new medications. She formerly served as the Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President of Global Medicines Development and Medical Affairs before joining Vertex in 2017.
Sanjay Mehrotra: Known for his significant contributions to the technology industry, Sanjay Mehrotra is a renowned business executive. Among his most notable accomplishments is his founding of SanDisk Corporation, a manufacturer of flash memory storage products, and his current position as CEO of Micron Technology, a memory company.
Anirudh Devgan: Anirudh Devgan is the President of Cadence, overseeing all business groups, R&D, sales & support, and marketing. Moreover, he is responsible for corporate strategy, IT, acquisitions, and business development.
Nikesh Arora: Nikesh Arora is a former President and Chief Operating Officer of SoftBank Corp. He was previously a top executive at Google, earning USD 57.1 million in 2013. He was one of the highest-paid executives in the world, earning a salary of USD 208 million over two years. He was born in India and earned a bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from BHU Varanasi and a degree in management from Northeastern University.
Rangarajan Raghuram: The current CEO of VMware, a well-known software business that specializes in virtualization, cloud computing, and cybersecurity solutions, is Rangarajan Raghuram, better known by his stage name Ragu Raghuram. In June 2021, Raghuram succeeded Pat Gelsinger as CEO, who resigned to become the CEO of Intel.
Surendralal Karsanbhai: Emerson is led by Lal Karsanbhai, who serves as its president and chief executive. In 2021, Karsanbhai was appointed CEO of the USD 18.2 billion market leader in industrial software and technology. In 2008, Karsanbhai was appointed president of Fisher regulator technologies, a division of Emerson. He was in charge of a large organization with 2,200 workers, nine industrial facilities, and four different business groups.
Ganesh Moorthy: An inspiring story of hard work, determination, and vision, Ganesh Moorthy is truly an inspiration. The highly talented and visionary leader who grew up in Chennai has shown a deep understanding of the semiconductor industry and a commitment to excellence throughout his career as a Chief Operating Officer at Microchip Technology.
Jayashree Ullal: Founder and CEO of Arista Networks, Jayshree Ullal is a prominent technology leader and entrepreneur. Her contributions to the technology industry have been recognized for their outstanding leadership and innovation.
Sumit Roy: Real estate investment trust (REIT) Realty Income Corporation, also referred to as "The Monthly Dividend Company," is a publicly-traded company that focuses on buying and operating single-tenant retail properties. As CEO since 2010, Sumit Roy has overseen the real estate investment firm Realty Income.