Desis are rising up the technology ladder

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  1. Srinivas_K

    Srinivas_K Senior Member Senior Member

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    Desis are rising up the technology ladder

    The number of Indians in the top management of leading global technology companies and contributing to some great technology advances may surprise many. Consider these: four out of Google's 13-member management team are Indians - Nikesh Arora, Sundar Pichai, Sridhar Ramaswamy and Vic Gundotra - all reporting directly to CEO Larry Page. Pichai's the man behind Chrome and Android; Gundotra, the person behind Google+.

    Intel has Arvind Sodhani among the top seven in its executive leadership. But over the decades it also has had Indian brains behind some of its biggest technology products - Vinod Dham and Avtar Saini were key to the Pentium chip, Ajay Bhat invented the USB.

    Cisco's Padmasree Warrior lays down the company's technology roadmap as CTO. VMware, the company that pioneered the technology called virtualization that made cloud-computing possible, has four Indians in its 18-member executive leadership - Raghu Raghuram, Shekar Ayyar, Sanjay Poonen and Sanjay Mirchandani. EMC, the $22-billion data storage, analytics and cloud computing company, has three Indians among its 16 business executives; some are distinguished engineers and fellows, the highest ranks in the tech ladder.

    "There weren't so many Indians at the top even in 2007 when I joined EMC," says Sarv Saravanan, senior veep and MD of EMC India's R&D centre.

    A couple of things have happened. One, the large number of Indians who moved to the US for higher education in the past two decades have risen up the ranks, and in some cases very rapidly because they came with the excellent background of institutions like the IITs.

    Two, almost every major technology company established an R&D centre in India in the past decade, attracted by the sea of engineering talent. Many of these have grown to become the second-largest R&D operations for those companies, accounting for at least 20% of their engineering strengths; many within these operations have become highly qualified, and there's now a near seamless movement of these technology executives between India and the US headquarters.

    "India has become a breeding ground for global talent. Just over the past two weeks we were discussing how to create more global leaders out of here," says Saravanan, indicating the India phenomenon in global technology companies was only going to get bigger. Saravanan now has the additional responsibility of China, and also interacts with sales teams across Asia-Pacific to create new opportunities.

    Cisco R&D demonstrates this best. Some of its senior-most talent, including Wim Elfrink, Faiyaz Shahpurwala and Anil Menon, moved to India to establish a powerful base here. When Elfrink came in 2007, there was one vice-president. Today, there are some 20-plus veep and senior veep positions.

    Niranjan Maka, MD of VMware India R&D, says Indians' comfort with software make them adapt very fast to changes in technology, which has kept them in good stead at a time when the world has moved rapidly to mobile devices and cloud computing. "We are also exposed to living in a hybrid culture and hence adapt very easily to an adopted environment. We can communicate extremely well, and in English - the lingua franca of modern business," he says.

    Desis are rising up the technology ladder - The Times of India
     
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