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Satya Nadella - how did he become an Indian success story in the United States?

Satya Nadella, Indian born, naturalized American, Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft.



INDUSTRY: Computer Software; Consumer Electronics; Computer Hardware


  • Born and raised in India,  Satya Nadella received his Master's degree in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1990 and Post Graduate Diploma in Management (MBA) from University of Chicago Booth School of Business.  He started his career with a technology staff position at Sun Microsystems.

  • Nadella joined Microsoft  in 1992, he made large contributions to the company by leading projects including the move to cloud computing and the development of one of the worldwide largest cloud infrastructures. Later, he worked as the senior vice-president of the R&D department for the Online Services Devision and as vice president of the Microsoft Business Division.  Under his leadership, the cloud services division grew from $16.6 billion to $20.3billion. In February 2014, Nadella was appointed  as the new CEO of Microsoft


You got a sense that Nadella had a burning passion for learning,” says Hosseini. “I have always used him as a good example of student success: how to dream big and work hard in developing strong interpersonal and technical skills that foster success in life and career.
— Professor Hossein Hosseini, UW-Milwaukee

After completing his bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering in India, Nadella came to the United States and received a Master degree in Computer Science from the Wisconsin-based university UWM in 1990. Compared to most students, Nadella spent less time to complete a strong and challenging program, recalled by Vairavan, emeritus professor and the former chair of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.  His former professor would attribute Nadella's impressive success to his intellectual ability, hard word and razor-sharp focus. In factProfessor Vairavan remembered that he once found a sleeping bag in his lab and was told by students that Satya Nadella had slept there several nights for his research. Other than study, Nadella also participated in the CEAS Upward Bound program, as a graduate teaching assistant, he was helping to teach college preparatory courses to inner-city high school students and bringing them on campus for a summer. In 1992, Nadella got accepted by University of Chicago Booth School of Business and Microsoft at the same time. He took advantage of both opportunities by enrolling in Booth's Weekend MBA program and working at Microsoft.  What did that mean?  Each week for the two and a half year MBA program, Nadella flew to Chicago on Friday night for Saturday's Class, and returned to Seattle for the work week.

Satya Nadella, an alumnus of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, is remembered as an extremely talented graduate student who was one of many students from India attracted to UWM's strong computer science program.

Since joining Microsoft in 1992, Nadella quickly became known in the company based on his masterful engineering skills, business vision, and the charisma to bring people together. He was promoted to executive vice president of Microsoft's Cloud and Enterprise group, and played a major role in Microsoft's transition to the cloud. While Natella was there, he oversee the Microsoft's Cloud Platform - Azure, and helped it became more competitive to Amazon's cloud. Furthermore, the group's revenue increased by 22 percent, and its profits by 33 percent. Previously, Nadella led Research & Development for the Online Services Division, guiding the development of one of the largest cloud infrastructures in the world to support products including Bing, Xbox, and Office. (Source:  Microsoft Corporation)

Satya Nadella was appointed as the 3rd Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft in February 2014. You should read part of the email he sent to his employees on his first day as CEO. We can tell that he delivers a tremendous drive for innovation and insists on a  spirit of collaboration from his employees. 

Satya Nadella Email to Employees on first day as CEO