5 Indian-born CEOs who've reached the top of the U.S. technology industry

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      The face of corporate America isn't as white as it used to be.

      Part of the reason is the growing number of Indian-born CEOs in the corner offices of large, publicly traded companies.

      When Arvind Krishna became CEO of IBM in April, he joined the club. 

      Not surprisingly, four of those heading tech giants attended the world-famous Indian Institutes of Technology before studying at U.S. universities.

      We've highlighted some of the most influential players below.

      Microsoft: Satya Nadella

      Nadella, 57, became CEO of Microsoft in 2014, succeeding Steve Ballmer, a long-time friend of cofounder Bill Gates.

      Nadella worked at Sun Microsystems before becoming a Microsoft employee in 1992. Since becoming CEO, he's overseen a massive shift toward cloud computing via the Azure platform and a much-improved Windows 10, sending the share price shooting upward.

      Nadella was born in Hyderabad, a large city along the banks of the Musi River in India's Deccan Plateau. Hyderabad is known as a centre of tech, luring multinationals through special economic zones.

      He attended the Naipal Institute of Technology, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and the University of Chicago.

      Microsoft market capitalization: US$1.54 trillion

      Stock price rise in 2020: 26.3 percent

      Sundar Pichai's claim to fame includes, among other things, the Google Chrome browser.
      World Economic Forum

      Alphabet: Sundar Pichai

      Pichai, a.k.a. Pichai Sundarajan, became CEO of Alphabet, the parent company of Google LLC in 2019, succeeding company cofounder Larry Page.

      It came four years after Pichai had succeeded Page as CEO of Google. One of Pichai's claims to fame is his key role in the development of the Google Chrome browser.

      Educated at the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, Stanford University, and the University of Pennsylvania, Pichai joined Google in 2004.

      Like Nadella, Pichai is also a South Indian, born in Madura in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. Nicknamed Athens of the East, Madura is a cultural and educational centre with seven polytechnical schools and five industrial training institutes.

      Alphabet market capitalization: US$1.04 trillion

      Stock price rise in 2020: 10.8 percent

      Adobe shareholders are likely pleased with the performance of CEO Shantanu Narayen, based on how the stock has risen in 2020.
      Brian Cummings Photography

      Adobe: Shantanu Narayen

      Like Nadella, Narayen also hails from Hyderabad and is in his late 50s. In 2005, Narayan was appointed as president and chief operating officer of Adobe, becoming CEO two years later.

      He's since added "chairman" to his list of titles.

      Narayen, named Global Indian of the Year in 2018, oversaw Adobe's development of a cloud-based subscription approach, generating recurring revenues.

      He attended Osmania University, the University of California, Berkeley, and Bowling Green State University.

      Adobe market capitalization: US$207.42 billion

      Stock price rise in 2020: 29.3 percent

      Arvind Krishna became CEO of IBM in April.
      Jnaneshwara

      IBM: Arvind Krishna

      Krishna, the newest of the Indian-born big-tech CEOs in America, has only been in this position for just over three months.

      His biggest claim to fame was planning IBM's US$34-billion purchase of Red Hat, an open-source software company.

      Prior to becoming CEO on April 6, Krishna was senior vice president of cloud and cognitive software at IBM. In 2016, Wired magazine has praised his work on blockchain.

      The day he moved into the top position, the share price opened at $110.35.

      He's a graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur, as well as the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champagne.

      Krishna was born in the northern Indian city of Dehradun in the state of Uttarakhand. It's a popular tourist destination and relies heavily on agriculture, but in the past 20 years, it's also seen a rising tech sector, thanks to the creation of software technology parks and special economic zones.

      IBM market capitalization: $111.08 billion

      Stock price rise since April 6, 2020: 13.4 percent 

      Jim Cramer interviewed Palo Alto Networks CEO Nikesh Arora on CNBC last September.

      Palo Alto Networks: Nikesh Arora

      Arora is a former Google executive, rising to become senior vice president and chief business officer.

      He also spent two years as president of SoftBank Group, where he became the world's highest paid executive, pocketing more than US$200 million over two years.

      In 2018, Arora became CEO and chairman of Palo Alto Networks, a cybersecurity company based in Santa Clara, California.

      He attended the Indian Institute of Technology in Varanasi, Boston College, and Northeastern University.

      He was born in Ghaziabad, which is the largest city in western Uttar Pradesh and home to several science and tech institutes.

      Palo Alto Networks market capitalization: US$23.13 billion

      Stock price rise in 2020: 1.9 percent

      They're not the only ones

      Several other executives of Indian ancestry have risen to top positions in the tech world.

      From 2007 to 2020, Agra-born Dinesh Paliwal was CEO of Harman, which develops "connected technologies" for the automakers, consumers, and businesses. Its audio and connected systems are in more than 50 million automobiles.

      In 2017, Samsung Electronics bought Harman International for US$8 billion. Paliwal will remain as an adviser to the new CEO, Michael Mauser, until December.

      GlobalFoundries, a Santa Clara–based semiconductor manufacturer, was headed by Sanjay Jha from 2014 to 2018. Jha, who was born in Bhagalpur in the Indian state of Bihar, is also a former chairman and CEO of Motorola Mobility.

      Finnish telecommunications giant Nokia's CEO is Rajeev Suri, who indicated earlier this year that he planned to step down after 25 years with the company. He'll be succeeded on September 1 by Pekka Lundmark.

      Kenyan-born Francisco D'Souza is the former CEO of the software-services company Cognizant. His family traces its roots back to Goa.

      And Niraz Shah, who was raised in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, is cofounder and CEO of Wayfair, as well as director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

      Sonia Syngal heads Gap Inc., which recently signed a major deal with Kanye West to sell his clothing line in its stores.
      Benzeeful

      One of the few female CEOs of a Fortune 500 company, Sonia Syngal, was born in India before immigrating to Canada as a child. She heads Gap Inc., which owns the Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy brands.

      Indra Nooyi, who was born in Chenna in South India, is the former long-term CEO of Pepsi. She joined the board of Amazon last year.

      One of the most quietly influential Indian-born businesspeople in the United States is in financial services. That's Mastercard's president and CEO, Ajaypal Singh Banga. A Sikh who was born in Pune, Maharashtra, he's also chairman of the U.S.-India Business Council.

      Another star in this sector is Ajit Jain, who's vice chairman of insurance operations for Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway.

       

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