Born on July 12, 1972 an Indian American boy from Madurai in Tamil Nadu was appointed as a new CEO of Google on 10th August 2015. It became a moment of pride for the Indian community to see an Indian-born make it to the list of the CEOs in the technological industry and Sundar Pichai’s life story is worth a share. SUNDAR PICHAI (or Sundarajan Pichai), a name now well-known across the globe has had his fair share of struggles before making it to the top.
He was born to a middle class family in Madurai, Tamil Nadu and brought up in Ashok Nagar, Chennai. His mother, Lakshmi Pichai was a Stenographer and father Ragunatha Pichai was an Electrical engineer at General Electric Company, the Conglomerate. His father had a manufacturing plant that produced electrical components and that’s where Sundar Pichai got his interest in technology. His father introduced him to technology by sharing stories and challenges that he faced during his work day. His first encounter with technology and the first time Pichai was introduced to the technology was when he was 12 and his family bought their first telephone. He discovered how effortlessly he recalls the digits and he would remember every number he dialed. He did not know, of course, how useful this skill would be in the future. A boy from a small town in India, who would have thought Sundar Pichai’s net worth will be the talk of the nation someday (or talk of the world in this case)?
Sundar Pichai went to Jawahar Vidyalaya, a CBSE school in Ashok Nagar, Chennai and studied there till class 10th. He went to Vana Vani School in IIT, Madras for his high school. Pichai holds a degree of Bachelors in Technology in Metallurgical Engineering from IIT Kharagpur and also holds an MS from Stanford University in Material Sciences and Engineering. Sundar Pichai completed his MBA from Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania where he was named as a Siebal Scholar as well as a Palmer Scholar.
Indian-American Business Executive Engineer and current CEO of Google LLC was formerly working as a product chief of Google. Pichai’s current role was announced on Aug 10, 2015 and took the position on Oct 2, 2015. Pichai’s tenure as CEO has been an overwhelming success for the company. Ever since Pichai joined the company as a CEO, the company’s stock price has risen by 76% which is a huge number.
From humble beginnings as a middle class student in India to one of the lead product developers on Google Chrome, Sundar Pichai’s road to the top of Google has been full of twists and turns.
Sundar Pichai’s impressive degrees and work experience initially joined as a product manager leading innovation efforts on software products including Google Chrome, Chrome OS and Google Drive. He made a very public debut of chrome OS and the Chrome book in 2011.
In 2013, Pichai became the leader of the Android OS, which powers nearly half of the smartphones in the US and more than 80% of smartphones all across the globe.
Until Aug 2015, Google was run by co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin with the support of former CEO and current executive Eric Schmidt.Formerly, Pichai was a trusted member of Google Leadership Team, then becoming a trusted advisor to Page and Brin.
Pichai joined Google in 2004, where he led the product management and innovation efforts for a suite of Google’s client software products, including Google Chrome and Google OS, as well as being largely responsible for Google Drive.
On May 20, 2010, Pichai announced the open sourcing of the new video codec VP8 by Google and introduced the new video format, WebM.
On March 13, 2013, Pichai added android to the list of Google products that he oversees.
Sundar Pichai, who is the CEO of Google had also been suggested as one of the contenders for the position of CEO at Microsoft in 2014 which eventually was given to Satya Nadella.
On Oct 24, 2015 he stepped into the new position at the completion of the formation of Alphabet Inc. the new holding company for the Google company family.
In Dec 2017, Pichai was a speaker at the world internet conference in China, where he stated that “a lot of work that Google does is to help chinese companies”.
Pichai has achieved so much in his life with his hard work, dedication and never giving up attitude. Pichai believes in living a simple lifestyle and believes that anybody can succeed and achieve their life goals if they have a positive attitude and a strong and focused vision towards their goals.
Sundar Pichai is a very modest and poise man and never over speaks or get involved into any politically correct or incorrect matters but in Aug 2017, Pichai drew publicity because of firing a Google employee who wrote a manifesto of 10 pages criticizing the diversity policies of the company and further argued that “distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership.
The manifesto heated lots of controversies and raised a number of issues that are open to debate. After all the publicity, Pichai came forward and said in a memo to all the Google employees to suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not Okay.
This attitude of Sundar Pichai shows his ability to stand against everything wrong and that he is a decision maker and always takes his team along. Along with being a Team Leader, Pichai believes in working together as a team so that all the creative heads come together and make decisions for the betterment and growth of the company.
Sundar Pichai is married to Anjali Pichai who he met in his initial days at IIT Kharagpur. Anjali Pichai is a Business Analyst and Manager. Pichai has a nuclear family consisting of his wife and two little children, a daughter and a son.
Pichai’s interests include Football and Cricket. He is an avid fan of FC Barcelona and states that “he watches every game of the club”. Pichai is also a huge fan of Sachin Tendulkar.
Pichai was the captain of his school cricket team and under him, the team had won several competitions in the region.
Pichai is not at all nerdy as his appearance might suggests. He is actually very grounded, helpful and friendly.
Sundar Pichai is very grounded and down to earth despite achieving so much in life. He still interacts with the students at IIT-Kharagpur over Skype at regular intervals and if he is somewhere around his town, he often pays visit to his school and college just to interact with the students there and bring back some nostalgia.
Reports says that; as a Boss, Sundar Pichai is very empathetic, supportive and aims to avoid clashes and confrontations. Hence, he puts great emphasis on cooperation operating as a team to achieve goals.
Pichai loves watching Koffee with Karan, and also has gone on record to say it as his favorite show. So, if you’re guilty of binge watching the show. Need not to be now.
When Pichai was in IIT- Kharagpur, he was described by his teachers as “the brightest of his batch” and due to which, he eventually earned himself a scholarship at Stanford University. When Sundar won a scholarship to Stanford, his father withdrew more than his annual salary from the family’s savings in order to fly him to the United States.
Pichai dropped out of Stanford to work as an engineer and product manager at Applied materials, a semiconductor maker in Silicon Valley which was a huge surprise (not a pleasant one for sure, at least at that time) for his parents. However, he got done with MBA from Wharton in 2002 and did a stint at McKinsey & company as a consultant.
Sundar Pichai joined Google even before the company went public. (And, I’m sure he must not have even thought people will look for Sundar Pichai Biography someday).
An engineering genius known for his innovative ideas, Sundar Pichai is best known as the mastermind behind the launch of the Chrome Browser in 2008. He played a very important role in convincing his seniors at Google to launch the browser which in time became the most popular browser on the internet and also led to the launch of the Chrome Operating System.
Pichai says, “We need to bring Android and Chrome to every screen that matters for users, which is why we focused on phone, wearables, cars, television, laptops and even your workspace.”
Narayan Murthy is the idol of Pichai ever since his college days and says that he has really followed his work and that he is his inspiration.
Sundar Pichai turned down a big news grant of restricted stock in 2018 because he felt he was already being paid generously.
Since 2016 big stock awards, Sundar Pichai has collected a $650,000 annual salary and typical CEO perks such as the cost of personal security.
The story of Pichai is an inspiration for many who are struggling to set their feet in the business. He is a son, a father, a husband, a college dropout and now a billionaire. There is a lot to learn from the story of Sundar Pichai.
“We want to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible”, says Pichai. There is a lot of information and Pichai has been working hard to make it accessible for all the world.
Once in a speech in his alma mater (IIT-Kharagpur), Sundar Pichai shared how he waited for hours in a queue till his family’s request for a phone was finally approved. Pichai used to love technology and that small spark led him to chart his way to the apex at Google.
Pichai says that, “there is merit in failing if you try to extract valuable lessons from those perceived failures. If you learn from a setback, it’s not really a setback but a learning experience”
Failing is great unless it becomes a habit. But it’s very important to recognize when certain things just do not fall into place. Always be open to plan B if the plan A doesn’t work.
Sundar Pichai is known for building strong terms that build off of each other’s innovative ideas rather than tearing each other down. This positive outlook motivates Pichai and his team to align their own success along with the team.
“I do think it’s important to follow your dreams and do something which you are excited by. If you follow your heart and do what you like, you will always do much better regardless of what your educational qualification is. At Google, we have an ambitious approach to things we do, we call it moon shots.”
Pichai believes in external sense of satisfaction and happiness because of which he always endorses the fact that a person who is happy is not because everything is right in his life, he is happy because his attitude towards everything in his life is right.
Pichai always says that as a leader, it is important to not just see your own success, but also should focus on the success of others.
Unlike many technocrats and popular think tanks, Pichai is not a geek but a balanced man. He consistently strives to balance his personal and professional life.
He is considered as a grounded leader with empathy and thoughtfulness. He believes in empowering others and that is his remarkable leadership style. Communication is his strength and he makes sure to take his team along with a clear understanding of his mission.
Sundar Pichai is a visionary and believes in amalgamating newer technology with the old. AI (Artificial Intelligence) has been his latest stint and he wants to bring voice recognition at full length to the public.
Visual recognition in smart phones is his initiative. He always believes that language translation will also be available in most of the smart phones in coming years.
His target is to reach more and more people and make things that one does in daily life better with technology.
When Sundar Pichai started working in Google, Google toolbar and search engine used to be the default option in Microsoft internet explorer at that time. One day he took a proposal to the CEO Eric Schmidt that Google should make its own web browser because if one day Microsoft developed their own search engine and set the default option in Internet Explorer, then Google will be permanently shut from there. Eric Schmidt refused this idea calling it a lonely project. But, Pichai did not lose hopes and further took the proposal to the founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin to get Google page approval in 2006.
On Oct 18, 2006, Microsoft removed Google from Internet Explorer and set Bing as the default search engine in Microsoft. Google used to get millions of traffic per day from Internet Explorer and used to make millions of dollars per day but this step taken by Microsoft was a huge blow to Google.
But Pichai had already taken this situation to this senses and in 24 hours, with his team, he pulled out the Internet Explorer loop-hole search. Because of this, the option of setting your default search engine to Google appeared again in a pop up window in front of people who had moved to Bing. After this, they regained 60% of users who were using Google. After this huge shock by Microsoft, Google took a strategic move and signed it to HP and all the major computer distributors that they would default on Google Toolbar and its search option on their PC.
Pichai did not lose hopes even after the proposal being rejected by Eric Schmidt and neither did he stop himself from doing what he targeted to do. This teaches us to never lose hopes and always believe in yourself that you can achieve anything you want with sheer dedication and hard work.
Pichai is very empathetic by nature. According to reports, he has decided to spend $1 Billion in the initiative to empower and prepare candidates for the technology that would come up in next generations (I’m sure that number will not even affect the Google CEOs net worth).
Sundar Pichai has also announced that there will be progress taken up by Google employees for non-profits that will involve donating 1 million hours as volunteer.
Pichai does not believe in theoretical knowledge. He says that academics is a part of life but to really succeed in life, one needs to look beyond it. Also, he further states that how Indian Education System needs to improve in order to make students learn practically.
With all the growth, Pichai has faced his own set of challenges. Talking about the life of Sundar Pichai, nearly every turn is worth inspiration. From his early hardships to his risk taking and cooperating attitude, all mark the qualities of a great leader. If past performance is any indication, Google is in good hands and will perform well in the coming months and years.