Material Engineer, Businessman, CEO of Google (1972–)
Coming from a middle class family in India, Sundar Pichai excelled in school and obtained a scholarship to Stanford University, ultimately letting him achieve his own version of the American Dream of becoming CEO of Google in 2015.
Sundar Pichai spent his childhood in Chennai, India, where his father, Regunatha Pichai worked as an electrical engineer for General Electric and where his mother, Lakshmi Pichai, worked as a stenographer before she had children. His father recalled how he used to talk about his work to Sundar, and how it piqued his interest toward technology and engineering. The family of four lived in a two-room apartment, with Sundar and his younger brother sleeping in the living room. During much of his childhood, the Pichais didn’t have a television or a car. For transportation, Sundar’s family would take the blue Lambretta scooter they saved three years to buy.
Pichai excelled at school and won a coveted spot at the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur, where he studied metallurgical engineering. After graduating, he won an additional scholarship to Stanford University in 1993 to study materials science and semiconductor physics and he lived with a host family during his first year. Pichai planned to get a Ph.D. at Stanford and pursue an academic career, but he dropped out to work as an engineer and product manager at Applied Materials, a Silicon Valley semiconductor maker. After getting an MBA from the Wharton School of Business in 2002 and spending a stint as a consultant at McKinsey & Company, Pichai joined Google in 2004, where he led the product management and innovation efforts such as Google Chrome.
He proposed that Google build its own browser and won the support of the company’s co-founders, though he faced an objection from then-CEO Eric Schmidt, who thought that it would be too costly. Pichai continued to innovate by assembling a large, well-funded group inside Google to create the Chrome OS and Chromebooks in 2011. He forged strong relationships with retailers such as Best Buy and PC manufacturers such as Dell, Lenovo, and Samsung. In 2013, Pichai was asked to manage the Android OS, helping to further incorporate Google applications with Android based products.
Pichai was announced as the next CEO of Google on August 10, 2015 after previously being appointed Product Chief by CEO Larry Page on October 24, 2014. He stepped into the new CEO of Google position on October 2, 2015 at 43 years of age.
Sandar recently initiated a program called Internet Saathi, which employs women to ride bikes out to remote and rural villages with Android phones and tablets, where they then teach other women how to use the devices. Google is planning to engage 300,000 villages across India in this way by the end of 2018. Google has also contributed to offering free Wi-Fi at railway stations all across India.
Sundar Pichai currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, Anjali Pichai, a chemical engineer and same-year classmate at IIT Kharagpur, and they have two children.
Photograph Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sundar_Pichai