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The CEOs of Many Major US Tech Companies Are Indians, And We’re Here To Discuss Why That May Be So

Indians working in info-tech companies is in and of itself a massive stereotype, and one that can prove to be troubling on occasion. However, there is quite some satisfaction that the South Asian community can revel in when they see members of their own making it to the top of those very giant companies. Today, we’ll be discussing Indian tech CEOs, and where the abundance of such individuals is coming from.

If I had a penny for every time an Indian individual became CEO to a massive tech conglomerate, I’d have 4 pennies. Which may not be much, but it’s wild that this happened four times, right? With that outdated reference to appear as being cool to the kids aside, let’s see what our impressive roster of chiefs is. There’s Satya Nadella, taking over Bill Gates’ Microsoft from Steve Ballmer in 2014. There’s Sundar Pichai, who’s rather famously been the CEO of Alphabet/Google since 2015. Shantanu Narayen has been the CEO of Adobe since 2007. Finally, and most recently, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced his retirement on the 29th of November, 2021, with Parag Agarwal taking over the social network's charge immediately. That’s a very impressive list of companies, and equally impressive individuals now at the helm. In general, it seems like India and tech companies are getting along splendidly. But what do these individuals have in common, and why is this Asian country seeing such massive success? Let’s take a closer look at the situation as a whole.

Background helps inform much of what would be the successful practices that these individuals employed into their companies, either during their rise to the top, or after reaching there. We’ll get to those in a while, but for now let’s discuss how they got there. While the typical South Asian stereotype of parents wanting their children to become doctors or civil engineers is certainly not untrue, I say while being a writer at an online tech journal, entrepreneurship is something everyone aspires to. Even within the generally underdeveloped South Asia, Indians face a massive shortage of jobs, with a lot of hungry mouths to supplement. This can mostly be attributed to a mix of below average infrastructure and an astoundingly expansive population. Entrepreneurship, start-ups, and think tanks are some of the only ways that many such individuals can truly make a name for themselves. Parents, accordingly, also imprint the idea of life fulfilment being tied to monetary gain from the start. Of course, such generalizations get us nowhere, but the reason that Indian parents want their sons and daughters becoming doctors and getting full marks across all their papers is because they want stable and secure futures for them. It’s an ideology they were raised with, and one that is ingrained into not only Indian, but South Asian DNA as a whole.

Working in multi-billion companies and corporations requires an individual to be flexible and accommodating in their interactions with other individuals. Indians have a big historic advantage here as well, due to the intense multiculturalism that comes with the turf. While the country’s relationship with non-Hindu minorities is questionable to say the least, there’s still a lot of diversity that one encounters even within Hindu circles. There’s 22 regional languages, with some of them even having a major influence across pop culture and media outlets. Even living as immigrants in a country such as the USA will have Indians engaging with each other in such a melting pot of different cultures and ideals, since overseas communities tend to band together a lot. This is the sort of environment that Indians grow up in, and it’s one that empowers them for the future ahead.

Respect and restraint is something that South Asian children are also taught from a young age, with immigrant families being even more particular in such matters. For them, being in a foreign world with unfamiliar individuals means stepping on one’s tiptoes if they want to make it to the top. This requires an attitude of displaying mutual respect, without any hints of unnecessary overt familiarity. These are practices that many of the CEOs would go on to implement in their companies. Nadella’s Buddhist roots would make themselves apparent in his dealings with executives both from Microsoft and from other companies. His humble, calm, and accommodating demeanor went against the grain for a company that was overtly arrogant in its own stance and position in the tech world. Out went loud, overbearing suits, and in came a much more professional and healthy work environment. Google was a company that was infamous in tech circles for just how cavalier work relations were, with many employees and top execs engaging in misdemeanors. Sundar Pichai’s rise to CEO saw a stop to such behavior, even if the overall changes weren’t sudden.

Ultimately, all of these CEOs brought much success in their tenures within the tech and social media sector. Here’s to rooting for Parag Agarwal, and hoping that he too grows into the role with confidence.


Chart: Statista.

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