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School celebrates Pichai's appointment

Last updated on: August 12, 2015 09:29 IST

Sundar PichaiThe school’s staff said they did not have any records showing the new Google chief executive officer studied there.

It was a joyous occasion at the Vanavani Matriculation Higher Secondary School in Chennai as news broke that Sundar Pichai, a former student, had been appointed the new chief executive officer of Google.

During assembly in the morning students held up posters.

However, the school’s staff said they did not have any records showing the new Google chief executive officer studied there.

Pattu Subrmanian, who heads logistics in the BMW plant in Chennai, was two or three years senior to Pichai in school.

He remembers Pichai as a simple studious boy with a charming smile.

Subrmanian later met Pichai in the US at a public function. Pichai was no longer a shy boy.

The two old school boys exchanged a few words but did not meet after that.

Pichai, 43, was named Google CEO on Monday. 

According to a Bloomberg Magazine report, early conversations Regunatha Pichai, an electrical engineer, had with his son Sundar stoked his interest in technology.

“Even at a young age, he was curious about my work. I think it really attracted him to technology,” Bloomberg quoted Regunatha Pichai as saying.

The family owned a two-room apartment in Chennai and did not possess a television set or a car till very late, it said.

Pichai bought his parents a flat in Chennai for Rs 4-5 crore (Rs 40-50 million), remembers another former student of the Vanavani Matriculation Higher Secondary School.

Pichai joined the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, to study metallurgical engineering and then Stanford University to study material sciences and engineering.

He also has a MBA from Wharton.

Pichai worked with Applied Metrials and McKinsey & Co before joining Google in 2004, according to reports.

Sundar Pichai's school


In a question-answer session on website Quora, Chris Beckmann, who worked for Google between 2007 and 2012, said Pichai recruited, mentored, and retained a great team.

And he avoided making enemies.

Industry body NASSCOM congratulated Pichai on his appointment and said he would infuse innovation in the industry.

IIT honour in absentia

On August 7, Pichai received the Distinguished Alumnus Award at the 61st convocation of  IIT-Kharagpur, where he studied between 1989 and 1993, in absentia.

“He was the best student of our department, for which he was awarded the B C Roy Silver Medal of our institute,” recalled Sanat Kumar Roy, professor, Metallurgical & Materials Engineering, IIT-Kharagpur. Pichai never visited the institute after passing out, but with him taking leading roles in Google, Roy recommended him to the Distinguished Alumnus Award.

One of the requirements was he had to procure a recent bio-data of Pichai and his contributions to Google.

For that he tried to contact Pichai through e-mail, but 'I failed utterly,' Roy said.

“Finally, through a large number of secretaries, I could meet his principal secretary.”

She told him he couldn't speak to Pichai directly since he was busy with the Android project.

Roy collected the details from her, which he submitted to the institute.

Image (top): Sundar Pichai delivers his keynote address during the Google I/O developers conference in San Francisco, California May 28, 2015. Photograph: Robert Galbraith/Reuters. (Bottom): Vanavani Matriculation Higher Secondary School. Photograph: Kind courtesy, the school website

T E Narasimhan and Gireesh Babu in Chennai