Indian CEOs show Silicon Valley can be a “brain deposit” for future repatriation

The Asian Nikkei Review has noted one thing both Microsoft and Google have in common – they are both headed by Indian CEOs in their 40s:

Satya Nadella, the 49-year-old chief executive officer of Microsoft, is from Hyderabad in Southern India. He studied electrical engineering at university and moved to the U.S. in 1988. He earned a master’s degree in computer science and management in the U.S. and joined Microsoft in 1992. After successfully leading Microsoft’s cloud business, he became the company’s third CEO in 2014.

Sundar Pichai, Google’s 44-year-old CEO, is the son of an electrical engineer in the southern Indian city of Chennai. He set foot in the U.S. as a scholarship student at Stanford University in 1993. After working for McKinsey & Co., he joined Google in 2004. He led the development of Chrome, now the world’s most widely used internet browser. He reached the top job in 2015.

Silicon Valley is a multiethnic society where nearly 40% of the 3 million or so people who live there are foreign-born. Although Indians trail behind Mexicans and Chinese by sheer number, the former are by far the dominant group among startup founders and employees of IT companies in the area. The article went on to point out:

Their increasing presence at the top of the American IT industry owes to a rich pool of talent at home with the ability to think logically — nurtured through India’s strength in math and science educations — and English language skills.

In a speech two years ago, addressed to 18,000 Indian expatriates filling a stadium in Silicon Valley, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he considers them as more of a “brain deposit” than a brain drain, as some in India make them out to be. As those people eventually return home, he said, they will contribute to the development of India.

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