Sunder Pichai, should definitely be one of the most popular names around you, with hardly anyone unfamiliar with it. The name rose to fame when Sunder Pichai became the CEO of Google and the rest is history. A role model to many, Sunder Pichai is one of the most popular faces in the World.
His initial life is no ordinary story or let’s say extraordinary story. He had a very normal and lower middle class family upbringing. The journey started with his birth in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, where he was born.
Both the parents were working to make the ends meet. While the mother was a Stenographer, father Raghunatha Pichai held the position of an electrical engineer in a British conglomerate, GEC.
A manufacturing plant was also in possession of his father, which was used to produce different electrical components. With all of the above, Sunder Pichai’s house in his young days was a two room apartment.
All the earning could not suffice the financial needs of the family and Raghunatha Pichai had to work really hard. Situation was such that once when he planned to get himself a scooter, he had to wait for three years to convert his dream into reality.
Moped was the only conveyance for this family of four then and a car was not even a dream. Even with his limited income, Raghunatha Pichai made sure that there was no compromise in his son’s education and provided Sunder Pichai with the possible best.
Pichai’s acknowledgement of Technology
Sunder Pichai’s hardships in his young days attracted him towards technology. There was a time when his mother was sick and Sunder had to travel regularly to a distant hospital for blood reports collection.
The journey to the hospital took 1 hour and 20 minutes and it was followed by waiting in sample collection queue for hours to collect reports. This wastage of time really pissed him off.
Things changed for him when after five years his family possessed their first rotary telephone. Instead of travelling long to hospital, a simple call could now tell them the exact time to arrive. Sunder observed a greater variation when refrigerator came into his home and his mother’s life changed.
These observations in his early childhood were enough to arouse his interest towards technology and miracles of science.
He quotes, “We waited a long time to get a refrigerator, too, and I saw how my mom’s life changed: she didn’t need to cook every day, she could spend more time with us. So there is a side of me that has viscerally seen how technology can make a difference, and I still feel it. I feel the optimism and energy, and the moral imperative to accelerate that progress”
His education started from Jawahar Vidyalay in Chennai and completed 12th from Vana Vani School. He is remembered as a nerdy and very studies student by his then classmates. He was all focused on academics and hardly participated in any extracurricular activities.
All his hard work paid off when he got admission in Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur. He studied Metallurgical Engineering and later secured M.S. degree from Stanford University in Material Science. He also perused MBA from Wharton School of university of Pennysilvania.
His carrier started with McKinsey and company as part of Product management and management consulting. His real journey to fame started from in 2014, when he became a part of Google as a product manager.
Journey with Google
It was his projects on Google chrome and chrome OS that upgraded his reputation and provided him recognition there. His idea of Google owning its own browser was converted into reality. He started with a team of just 10 engineers to create Chrome.
It is one of the most popular web browsers today. According to a report on Forbes, Chrome reported a market share of 45% worldwide, creating a benchmark for its own success.
Luck stuck Sunder Pichai with its move to create Alphabet, its parent company. The founders of Google now made Alphabet their hub and the top end position at Google was now empty.
Pichai as CEO
Sunder Pichai filled this position and became the CEO of Google. Glass door in 2017 rated him as one of the best CEOs as he succeeded to get 96% approval rating.
Post his acquisition of this position, he monitored in total seven products and made it reach though a Billion people. You may be familiar with most of the names. Android, Maps, Gmail, Search and Google play store are one of the most commonly used apps today.
Risk taking attitude
You tube has secured its own position today amongst the internet users. All the success rushed to his feet with his temperament to take risks. While addressing students of Lady Shri Ram college, he stated how Google is consistently driven to find answers.
He said,” But one shouldn’t be afraid of taking risks. Even failure is a part of the process, it takes you forward “
Pichai and Google’s success
Sunder Pichai has been dealing with hi-tech consumer products for more than 15 years and is considered as one of the reasons behind Google’s success. The popularity and growth of Android in particular is dedicated to his vision and hard work.
According to Business Today, if we trace the activity of active Android users for 30 days, the increment in the numbers is from 230 Million to 1 Billion.
Unlike the many technocrats and popular think tanks, Pichai is not a geek but a balanced man. He consistently strives to balance his personal and professional life.
Sunder Pichai’s wife, Anjali Pichai was his college friend and the couple is blessed with two children. It is one of his prominent rules to not to take back work home.
He is an avid Soccer and Cricket fan. Like all others he takes out time to watch the matches of his favorite club. Apart from work, family and fun, he is also health conscious and keeps on finding time to work out.
Pichai as a Leader
He is considered as a grounded leader with empathy and thoughtfulness the reasons behind his success. He believes in empowering others and that is his remarkable leadership style. He addressed students of IIT Kharagpur and talked about empowering.
He said,” When you’re running something at the scale of Google with 60,0000 people, you rely on other strong leaders. It is learning to let go and empowering people at all levels of the organization. It is less about trying to be successful and making sure you have good people and removing barriers to their being successful.”
Communication is his strength and he makes sure to take his team along with a clear understanding of his mission.
Vision with technology
Sundar Pichai is a visionary and believes in amalgamating newer technology with the old. AI has been his latest stint and he wants to bring voice recognition at full length to the public.
He speaks on the topic,” In an AI-first world, interactions become even more seamless and natural,” Pichai further added, “So, with voice, you can speak to things, and we are working on Google Lens, so your computer can see things the way you see them”
Visual recognition in smart phones is his initiative. He believes that language translation also will be available in most of the smart phones on the coming years as an excellent example of advanced AI.
Democratizing technology is one of his ambitions. This will make android phones real cheap and in everyone’s reach, targeting his goal of reaching near to, or more than five Billion users.
Empathy driven planning
Most of his planned future initiatives are empathy driven. According to First Post, Sunder Pichai has decided to spend $1 Billion in the initiative to empower and prepare candidates for the technologies that would come up in next generations.
In fact, Google itself will fund organizations working progressively towards World class education. The organizations that empower people with the changing work culture and ensuring that opportunity reaches to everyone, will be on top of the funding list.
Sunder Pichai also announced that there will be program taken up by Google employees for non profits that will involve donating one million hours as volunteers.
Pichai acknowledges the fact that academics is a part of life but to really succeed in real life, one needs to look beyond it. The Indian education system has to revive in order to make its students practically ready for the upcoming opportunities.
He emphasizes on the fact that more and more people should voluntarily take risks and try something new. Only if we experiment with something new, the output will be newer and better.
Pichai and new launches
According to one of his colleagues, Pichai is known as the person behind launching technology that people desired, for last 12 years. Many companies like Twitter have tried to hire him and get him on board. Sunder Pichai’s age is 45 years and only at this experience and age, his reputation in industry has been world-wide accepted and ever growing.
Man beyond failures
With all the growth Pichai has faced his own set of challenges. While the search on Google is adopted globally, many other apps fail to make a similar mark. Amazon gives a prominent competition as users spend more time on it when compared to Google apps.
Face book also is a strong competitor with better and greater user data than Google. With every new launch, a new challenge comes up and Sunder Pichai has successfully overcome them.
Talking of Sunder Pichai’s story, nearly every turn is worth inspiration. From his early hardships to his risk taking and cooperating attitude, all mark the qualities of a great Leader.