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A humble Hyderabad boy's rise to success

Last updated on: January 31, 2014 21:32 IST

A humble Hyderabad boy's rise to success

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Nikhil Inamdar in Mumbai

Indian born Satya Nadella, Executive Vice President of Microsoft's Cloud and Enterprise Group is the man responsible for building and running the "Cloud OS' - Microsoft's next generation cloud computing platform.

Nadella's journey, from being a Hyderabad boy to possibly helming one of the world's biggest technology companies is what dreams are made of.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Microsoft

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Born in the city of the Nizams, Nadella earned an engineering degree from Manipal University before heading off to the US to pursue his computer science masters from the University of Wisconsin and an MBA from the University of Chicago.

Nadella was a member of the technology staff at Sun Microsystems before he joined Microsoft in 1992.

"I cannot vividly recall him as he didn't figure in either ends of the spectrum. Records show he was a first-class student who achieved distinction." MIT director Vinod V Thomas, who taught Satya 25 years ago, told the Times of India a few months ago when his name cropped up as one of the forerunners for the post.

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Image: Microsoft's outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer.
Photographs: Reuters

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Nadella's credentials may not have been immediately obvious in college, but at Microsoft he worked his way up the ladder, functioning closely under the leadership of founder and CEO Bill Gates and assuming several important positions across divisions including as senior vice president of R&D (Online Services Division), vice president of Microsoft Business Division and president of Microsoft's $19 billion server and tools business.

He has been in his current role for the past three years, overseeing the transformation of the Server and Tools Business from client-server software to cloud infrastructure and services and his group is "coming to the fore as the company struggles to catch up in online and mobile computing" according to Reuters.

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Image: Microsoft chairman Bill Gates.
Photographs: Reuters
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Speaking to the Economic Times earlier this year, Forrester Research Analyst James Staten had this to say about Nadella's strengths.

"Coming from the Bing (Microsoft's search engine) part of the business, Nadella recognised that for Microsoft to go faster and innovate it needed to accelerate the cadence of its development cycle...Nadella also recognized the power and greater customer value that came from delivery over the Internet (SaaS and clud) and thus pledged to move Heaven and Earth to get the staid Server and Tools Group to move to this new development model. And for the most part, he has done it.

Nadella also worked to break down the silos within software technology group and other product groups..."

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Image: Microsoft Hyderabad campus.
Photographs: Courtesy, Microsoft.

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When asked what Nadella's weaknesses were, Staten said "he (Satya) does not have patience for dissent from the path forward but does have time to listen to tweaks in the strategy and when he sees a good plan change he empowers those who bring it to him."

Beyond his high profile job at Microsoft, Nadella and his wife, both of whom attended Hyderabad Public School says he still remains "deeply" connected to Hyderabad where his parents reside.

And in an interview with Deccan Chronicle earlier this year, Nadella spoke of how playing cricket for his school gave him valuable leadership lessons.

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Image: Satya Nadella.
Photographs: Courtesy, Microsoft.

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"There was this one particular incident in a match where my school captain noticed I was bowling some really ordinary stuff. He took over the next over himself, got our team the much-needed breakthrough and then threw the ball back to me in the next over! I will never forget that. What made him do that? Is this what they call leadership? These are the kind of questions I have since reflected on as I approach many of the things I do today leading teams."

Doug Burgum - Founder of Great Plains, Jeff Raikes - CEO of The Gates Foundation and Steve Ballmer are some of the people Nadella considers as his mentors.


Image: One of Satya Nadella's mentors Doug Burgum. He is also founder and chairman of Kilbourne Group.
Photographs: Courtesy, Kilbourne Group

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