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Meet the most successful global CEOs of Indian origin

February 03, 2014 08:03 IST

Meet the most successful global CEOs of Indian origin

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With Satya Nadella set to become Microsoft CEO, more India-trained professionals are taking top positions in the world.

A study by Egon Zehnder, a global executive search firm, shows that in 2011, S&P 500 companies had more Indian CEOs than of any other nationality except American. Indians led seven companies and Canadians four.

As Time magazine wrote in a 2011 article, India's leading export: CEOs, "Unlike, say, a Swede or a German, an Indian executive is raised in a multiethnic, multifaith, multilingual society, one nearly as diverse as the modern global marketplace."

Surely, sky is the limit for Indian CEOs.

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Image: Satya Nadella.
Photographs: Courtesy, Microsoft
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Shantanu Narayen

Age: 50 years

Designation: CEO, Adobe Systems Inc since 2007; board member, Pfizer

Education: A master's in computer science from Bowling GreenStateUniversity, an MBA from Hass School of Business, a bachelor's degree from OsmaniaUniversity

Past work: At Apple; co-founded Pictra Inc

Claim to fame: Appointed member of US President's Advisory Management Board in 2011; selected as one of "The TopGun CEOs" by Brendan Wood International; started his career at Apple and later served as director of desktop and collaboration products for Silicon Graphics. 

Memorable Quote

"Early in my life in India, I did not necessarily go to the 'right' schools, and I didn't always take the 'right' jobs. I didn't even get the 'right' grades. And I really didn't have that much of a long-term career plan, beyond having an impact and adding value wherever I could. The unexpected will happen, and you will adjust, no matter what any master plan or spreadsheet said anyway."

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Image: Shantanu Narayen
Photographs: Courtesy, Adobe

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Rakesh Kapoor

Age: 55 years

Designation: CEO, Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc

Education: An MBA from XLRI; bachelor's degree from the Business Institute of Technical MBA

Past work: Former board member, Madras Cements

Claim to fame: Head of the world's fifth-biggest household goods maker; in the last two years as chief executive officer, Kapoor has been credited with reorganising the company around emerging markets and is leading a push into higher-margin healthcare products - Durex condoms and Nurofen tablets. Kapoor joined Reckitt & Colman in 1987 and served in various roles. He became the chief executive officer of Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc in September 2011

Memorable Quote

"The year I was born, the literacy in my town was 1 in 6. So I had a 15 per cent chance of being educated, mathematically. And here I am. But I've not lost my earthiness. I am a son of the soil. This is exactly who I am; I would tell you how it is."

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Image: Reckitt Benckiser CEO Rakesh Kapoor speaks during the Reuters Global Consumer and Retail Summit in London.
Photographs: Benjamin Beavan/Reuters
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Ajit Jain

Age: 62 years

Designation: President, Berkshire Hathaway Reinsurance

Education: Graduation from IIT-Kharagpur, MBA from HarvardBusinessSchool

Past work: Worked for IBM India, Mckinsey & Co

Claim to fame: Jain specialises in mega-catastrophe coverage. He insured the SearsTower in Chicago, America's tallest building, after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack. He also underwrote the Winter Olympics at Salt Lake City in 2002, when big groups shunned the games as too risky after the attack

Jain has created an insurance business with a float of $35 billion and a significant cumulative underwriting profit, a feat no other insurance CEO has come close to matching, according to Warren Buffett. Many believe he is heir apparent to Buffett

Memorable Quote

"I probably don't do as good a job as I should in terms of maximising the upside, because I spend more time trying to minimise the downside."

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Image: Ajit Jain
Photographs: Getty Images
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Indra Nooyi

Age: 58 years

Designation: Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer, PepsiCo

Education: A master's in public and private management from Yale School of Management, a PG diploma in management from IIM-Calcutta

Past work: Strategy positions at Motorola and Asea Brown Boveri

Claim to fame: Directed PepsiCo's global strategy for more than a decade and led its restructuring. Nooyi held product manager positions at Johnson & Johnson and textile firm Mettur Beardsell. In 1980, she joined the Boston Consulting Group, and then held strategy positions at Motorola and Asea Brown Boveri. She joined PepsiCo in 1994 and was named president and CFO in 2001. She also took the lead in the acquisition of Tropicana and merger with Quaker Oats Company, which also brought Gatorade to PepsiCo

Memorable Quote

"Leadership is hard to define and good leadership even harder. But if you can get people to follow you to the ends of the earth, you are a great leader"

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Image: Indra Nooyi
Photographs: Paresh Gandhi/Rediff.com
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Anshu Jain

Age: 50 years

Designation: Co-CEO, Deutsche Bank

Education: An MBA in finance from the University of Massachusetts Amherst

Past work: Founded and led the securities industry's first dedicated hedge fund coverage group at Merrill Lynch

Claim to fame: First Indian to be at the top of a leading German company. Jain graduated in economics from the Shri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi. He joined as an analyst in derivatives research at Kidder, Peabody & Co (now part of UBS) where he worked from 1985 to 1988. After three years, he joined Merrill Lynch in New York where he founded and led the securities industry's first dedicated hedge fund coverage group. 

Memorable Quote

"People are not going to trust banks if they feel that we continue to socialise our losses and walk away when things blow up... Too big to fail has to be addressed, and that cannot be done by banks alone. We need regulators. We need countries to sit down and work out the very complex legal framework"

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Image: Anshu Jain attends the annual shareholders meeting in Frankfurt.
Photographs: Alex Domanski/Reuters
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Ajay Banga

Age: 53 years

Designation: President & CEO, MasterCard

Education: An economics graduate from St Stephen's College, Delhi, and an MBA from IIM-Ahmedabad

Past work: Nestle, PepsiCo, Citigroup

Claim to fame: Banga is seen to be aggressively diversifying MasterCard's revenue base in China and India. As the head of the $2.8-billion MasterCard, he has introduced a system that any request to the headquarters not acted upon or responded to in two weeks would be automatically approved. Prior to joining MasterCard, Banga spent 13 years at Citigroup from 1996 as part of the bank's senior management in the US and Europe, West Asia and Africa regions before becoming chairman and chief executive officer of Citi's international global consumer group in 2005. 

Memorable Quote

"Never shoot the messenger. If you have good news for me, take the stairs. If you have bad news, take the elevator."


Image: Ajay Banga
Photographs: Courtesy, MasterCard
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