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Neal Mohan, a shy student who is now YouTube boss

By Virendra Singh Rawat
February 20, 2023 14:08 IST
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What does Neal Mohan, anointed the next CEO of YouTube, have in common with Sir Cliff Richard?

They are alumni of St Francis’ College.

Mohan, who will take over the reins of the social media platform, is arguably the second most high-profile personality after the British music icon to be associated with the all-boys institution ensconced in the heart of Lucknow.

Mohan was enrolled in St Francis’ from Class VII to XII in the 1986-91 academic years.


St Francis’ is located in the upmarket Hazratganj area of Lucknow.

Richard, the legendary singer, was born in the city and enrolled at school at the elementary stage, before his family moved to England.

While local newspapers and news channels are abuzz with trivia on Mohan and his stay in the capital city of Uttar Pradesh, the school management and teachers too are excited about his career progression.

One of his former classmates, Shantanu Kumar, remembers Mohan as a reserved yet focussed student, one who was counted among the most studious of his batch.

“Neal had taken admission in St Francis’ after coming from the US.

"Therefore, he was not conversant with Hindi owing to his background.

"But he proved to be a quick learner and became a fluent Hindi speaker within months, and went on to score good marks in the board examinations,” Kumar told Business Standard.

Nishi Pandey, who taught at St Francis’ in the ’80s, recalled that Mohan was a keen observer and a respectful student.

“He was restrained in his conduct and spoke very less.

"But I could sense a spark of brilliance and a leadership trait that is rare in boys at that age,” she said.

According to media reports, Mohan lived in the River Bank Colony after coming to Lucknow in 1985 with his doctor parents Aditya and Deepa Mohan.

His father had earlier migrated to the US to do his PhD at Purdue University.

After completing his senior secondary exams at St Francis’ in 1991, Neal Mohan took admission as a science graduate at Stanford University in the USA.

While he would soon be heading one of the world’s most visited websites, he maintains a limited social media footprint beyond LinkedIn and occasionally Twitter.

Mohan, currently YouTube’s chief product officer and senior vice-president, will replace Susan Wojcicki, who decided to hang her boots after nine years at the helm of the social media giant.

Commanding active users of almost 2.3 billion, YouTube is the world’s second most visited site after Google, and the second most popular social media site after Facebook, which has an active user base of nearly 2.75 billion.

The California-headquarted platform, launched in February 2005, is currently owned by Google.

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Virendra Singh Rawat
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