From IIT to CEO of Google. Inspiring Journey of Sundar Pichai.
Updated: Dec 4, 2018
Being among the most highly paid CEO’s of the world, his billion dollar compensation has also made him the darling of Indian parents who now want their kids to be like him than work for TCS or Infosys- Times are changing and so are India’s role models.
India since the ancient times has been considered as the land of high thinkers and intellectuals. We gifted the world with things like numbers, philosophy, yoga and some major constants and findings in the area of astronomy. New age India is keeping that trend alive but only this time the world has come to acknowledge the managerial and entrepreneurial talent of Indians and their ability to head and drive global corporations towards new frontiers.
The examples are endless; be it the technology sector, finance sector, automobile, aerospace or FMCG sector there will be at least one Indian in top performing companies from these sectors who holds a CXO title. Sundar Pichai is one such example who is probably the most admired and recognized CEO of a company from this decade.
From being a product manager overlooking some of the most successful consumer software products of Google, the rise of Sundar Pichai to ultimately head one of the top tech companies of the world is in itself a mega source of inspiration to young and the old alike. Being among the most highly paid CEO’s of the world, his billion dollar compensation has also made him the darling of Indian parents who now want their kids to be like him than work for TCS or Infosys- Times are changing and so are India’s role models.
One interesting anecdote from Sundar Pichai’s initial days at Google was that of the surging cold war between the then most widely used web browser internet explorer(IE) and Google search. It was precisely this event which put Sundar Pichai in the limelight and also rescuing Google from and almost inevitable catastrophe which potentially could have sent Google to the graveyard. If people remember that era of 2006-07, when we still used internet explorer as a default to surf the web and Google search toolbar was so well integrated into IE that people hardly knew that they were two different entities. IE(Microsoft) had so far let Google be the default search provider on their browser so Google was making plenty of revenues with nothing to care about but in oct-2006 Microsoft decided to play the devil in the dark- overnight Microsoft changed their default search provider to bing and millions of users were getting redirected to bing instead of Google. What this meant was millions of search inquiries and hence billions of dollars of ad revenue was getting diverted to bing instead of Google.
Pichai was instrumental in identifying this problem and convinced the management on what actions to be taken and also mobilised teams quickly and efficiently to resolve this. The solution to this diverting of search queries to bing instead of Google, was deploying a popup within IE which asked customers to restore their search provider back to Google.
This move was very much like Jerry stealing the cheese right under the nose of Tom. This incident also made Google realize the importance of having their own web browser and thus Chrome was born which went on to become the most widely used web browser of all times even surpassing IE. Credit of birth of Chrome and it’s later descendants like Chrome OS, Chromebook and Chromecast largely go to one and only Sundar Pichai.
After this successful rescue of Google from a near to death situation, Mr.Pichai was given a rich portfolio of software products to look after which all became a hit one after the other like the ubiquitous gmail and android which is now the most widely used OS surpassing windows.
It was this love of Mr.Pichai towards consumer internet products coupled with his ability to deliver results and mobilize teams towards achieving a common goal are the qualities which took him to where he is right now.
Another undeniable important factor which was responsible for Mr.Pichai’s growth was that he was a people’s man, he took great care in building and retaining his teams. Rumor has that he even used to wait outside the cabin of the HR head to ensure that people in his team got better ratings and reviews.
I’m sure none of our managers would do this, even in our wildest dreams. Do they? I bet they don’t!! He had a flair of holding his thoughts and opinions, never imposing them but getting people on the same page by patiently listening and correcting them. He was one of those rare corporate executives whom nobody loved to hate.
Achieving this type of recognition from fellow employees in an organization as big as google is no small feat but Sundar Pichai is able to do that because he has a certain level of raw integrity and respect for fellow teammates.
Hope you enjoyed reading this inspiring account of Sundar Pichai as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Let us know in the comments what inspires you when you think of Sundar Pichai?