May 20, 2022

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Why are there so many technical leaders from India?

Barack Agarwal is the new CEO of Twitter

Barack Agarwal takes over as Twitter’s new CEO

Executives from China and India hold several key positions in technology multinationals. In the first case, it is due to the huge growth of Chinese companies (such as Huawei, Tencent, Xiaomi, Aliexpress, Lenovo or TikTok), but when you think of India, there are no local companies that have expanded massively internationally. , If not, we see many leaders from this country.

Barack Agarwal, who recently joined the group, became the CEO of Twitter at the age of 37. He has already joined the list of leaders of Sundar Pichai (Google and its parent company Alphabet), Satya Nadella (Microsoft) -Indo-American descent-, Chandni Narayan (Adobe), Ajaypal Singh Banga (MasterCard) or technology companies. Arvind Krishna (IBM). There are many cases on the boards of multinational companies of all kinds, however the majority are men (and some women like Indira Nooyi, the former financial director of PepsiCo).

For more than a decade, many media and commercial media have been wondering why a country like India can export so much talent for business, especially for technology. In 2011, management recruitment company Egon Zehnder found that the first director of the S&P 500 (the stock market index of the 500 largest companies in the United States) was an American and the second an Indian. R. Gopalakrishnan and Ranjan Banerjee published the book ‘Made in India Managers’ in 2018, in which they consider that these leaders are highly motivated, adaptable and intelligent and have four key elements that they share. Fluent English due to competitive environment, strong work ethic, personal setbacks (leading to very fast learner) and British colonial tradition.

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Very competitive attitude

Of these factors, the first two can be applied to education. The authors of the book pointed out that those growing up in India are preparing to take on management responsibilities. “Snails eat good food, and it’s hard to find bigger, tastier ones. If left in their natural environment, snails will only grow to a certain size. But if you put the same snail in a pot with locusts, they will try as hard as they can to grow bigger and more substantial.” Says the editors of Made in India Managers.

This educational competitiveness is “offset by the problems of everyday life, lack of economic resources … strong family support, and the influence of values ​​inspired by adults and spiritual pursuits.” Nooyi recalls how once when she was a child, her mother taught her and her sister how to be in life anyway: “Every night when we have dinner, my mother would tell us what to do if we had to. President, Head of Government or Prime Minister. He was told to play a different world leader every day. We spoke at the end of dinner and he told us which of the two he was going to vote for, ”he said at a 2015 roundtable. The winner signed a paper similar to that of the world leader. According to Nooyi, “It gave us hope that this is how we want to be in this way. It was an incredible experience in my youth. ”

An elite school

Analyzing the lives of some of the directors mentioned above, there are some educational coincidences between them. Narayan, Nadella and Banga were educated at the Hyderabad Public School, which was established in 1924 as Jagirdar College, a private school for child, primary and secondary education aimed at educating the children of the Indian elite.

After the independence of the country from Great Britain, it was renamed as Hyderabad Public School (HPS) in 1951; Although it is still a private center. It is currently slightly larger than Vatican City and has biology, chemistry, physics and computer labs, 44 playgrounds and a dining room for 1,600 students aged 3 to 17 on a shift. HPS establishes enrollment criteria and offers “complete and collaborative” training according to its website, “thus enabling students to reach their maximum potential and prepare them for the challenges they face in life.” However, its fees are far from those of other schools that are ready for the economic elite in other countries.

IITs, prestigious university technology centers

Competitiveness is also promoted in university education, and a prime example is the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), a nationwide university governed by a specific law (Technology Act) that has been declared of national importance. Each IIT is autonomous but integrated with the others and they have difficult entrance exams, which are usually prepared by the applicants at specialized centers. The enrollment rate at these universities ranges from 0.5% to 2.5%. In return, there are plenty of scholarships, so those who face the challenge in education will not shy away from money if they have the necessary ambition and ability.

Pichai (who came from a much simpler family than other managers) studied at IIT Kharagpur in East India; Nadella went through IIT Manipal, where Nokia CEO Rajiv Suri also studied. For his part, Krishna trained as an electrical engineer at IIT Kanpur and Agarwal studied computer science at IIT Bombay, where his students were considered excellent. In parallel with MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) training provided by IITs is considered one of the best in the world.

In addition, most of these managers, after completing their training in their home country, pursued other engineering or business management courses in the United States. .D. Stanford University seems to combine these skills, especially those imported from India, with its alumni Agarwal (who did not complete his doctorate at the university) and Pichai (who holds a master’s degree in material science from Stanford and another warden at the Business School of Pennsylvania). Nadella holds a master’s degree in computer science from the University of Wisconsin and another degree in business administration from the University of Chicago.