Hyderabad-born Satya Nadella's elevation as the CEO of Microsoft has not only made Indians, especially Telugus, proud but it will definitely inspire many youngsters with humble backgrounds, industry leaders feel.
An average student of Hyderabad Public School (HPS) here Nadella did not study at IITs or any top management school, which is often perceived as a must to make it to the top bracket.
The Microsoft board Tuesday named the 46-year-old Nadella as its CEO, the global software giant's third after Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer.
While the families of both Nadella and his wife Anupama have refused to share their thoughts citing privacy, Nadella's friends, the alumni of HPS and others said they were thrilled at an Indian making it to the top.
"He is very down-to-earth and humble person who never shows off his position or his knowledge of technology," J.A. Chowdary, founder director of Software Technology Park of India-Hyderabad told IANS.
Chowdary recalled his meetings with Nadella when the latter was at Sun Microsystem Inc. and also after he joined Microsoft in 1992. "He is always a learner of new things from every individual he meets. As he never shows off, people who meet him also freely share their thoughts with him," said Chowdary.
"I admire his technology vision. With a man like him at the helm, Microsoft will reach greater heights," he added. Chowdary is also thrilled that like him, Nadella also hails from Anantapur, a drought-prone district in the backward Rayalaseema region of Andhra Pradesh.
He did his BE in electrical and electronics from Manipal Institute of Technology, masters in computer science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and MBA from the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business.
"This will encourage to young boys and girls with humble beginnings both educationally and financially. They can come up in life with sheer hard work and dedication," Harish Chandra Prasad, a leading industrialist told IANS.
Prasad pointed out that Nadella studied at second-rung colleges. "He did not study at Stanford or Harvard. There is general thinking that the elite club comes from these top schools," said Prasad, past chairman of the Andhra Pradesh chapter of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
He believed Nadella is one more example of Telugus doing well. Padmasree Warrior, the Chief Technology & Strategy Officer (CTO) of Cisco Systems and the former CTO of Motorola, Inc. and Kirthiga Reddy, who heads India operations of Facebook, are from Andhra Pradesh.
Son of Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer B.N. Yugandar, Nadella studied at HPS, Begumpet between 1978 and 1984. According to school authorities, he was not an out-standing student.
"Nadella has made every Indian, every IT professional, every Hyderabadi and every alumnus of HPS proud," K. Vishweshwar Reddy, MD, Citadel Research, told IANS.
Vishweshwar Reddy, Nadella's senior at HPS, said Nadella's elevation was another example of average students doing well. He said Wipro CEO T.K. Kurien, also an HPS alumnus, was also not a top student.
Other famous HPS alumni include Karan Bilimoria, chairman of Cobra Beer; Prem Watsa, chairman, Fairfax Financial Holdings, Canada; Shailesh Jejurikar, vice president of Procter & Gamble's North American homecare portfolio and Shantanu Narayen, CEO, Adobe Systems.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy and Union HRD Minister Pallam Raju also studied at the HPS.
"HPS had some magic ingredient. It was the culture and the interaction with students coming from different backgrounds. There were students from rich, middle-class and poor families and there were students from north India and south India," said Vishhweshwar Reddy, who earlier headed Wipro HCIT and GE MSIT.
He recalled that HPS had very few toppers. "We had the opportunity to play sports and this helped a lot. This shows that it is not just technical skills and academic skills that take you to top," he said.
Cricket was a passion for Nadella at HPS. "He was a member of the team. He was more of a batsman," K. Hariprasad, CEO, Central, Apollo Hospitals told IANS.
A senior to Nadella by two years, Hariprasad was captain of the team. "It was a well-knit school. Somebody who has passed from the HPS and is from Hyderabad becoming CEO of one of the largest corporates of the world is a proud thing," added Hariprasad.
(Mohammed Shafeeq can be contacted at email@example.com)