Indians have always loved to chase the America Dream- a life of personal happiness and material comfort as traditionally sought by individuals in the USA. A simpler and rather newer definition of the same is Sundar Pichai, the first India-born CEO of Google. Ever since the news broke about Pichai’s rise to the throne, Indians have gone berserk. But very little has been spoken about the hard work and tough times Pichai went through. Here’s how he became an example of the great American Dream Indians love to chase.
Before the super high-tech cabins at Google and the merits of the American citizenship, Pichai “the most powerful man in mobile” lived in a small two-room apartment with his parents and brother, in Chennai. Pichai and his brother slept in the living room.
Pichai’s father was a foreman at the electrical appliance giant GEC while his mother was a stenographer. Belonging to a rather lower middle-class family, Sundar for much of his childhood had no television. For travel, the family owned an old and haggard Lambretta scooter, while local buses were the next best option.
It was only when Sundar was 12 years old that his father bought a rotary telephone for the family. Sundar was such a numeric genius that he would remember all the numbers that were dialled in a day. Even today, top Google executives vouch for his superhuman mathematical abilities.
Later, he went to IIT Kharagpur, where he outdid all competition and got himself a scholarship to Stanford University to study materials science and semiconductor physics. To fund the flight ticket to US, Pichai’s father tried taking a loan but it didn’t work out, and they had to take out over Rs 50,000 from family savings. In 1993, Pichai was finally at Stanford looking at a new world full of possibilities. He was, of course, terribly missing his girlfriend, who was back in India, and is now his wife.
But he dropped the idea of pursuing a PhD at Stanford, and instead took up a job as an engineer and product manager at Applied Materials, a Silicon Valley semiconductor maker. An MBA degree and a few years later, Pichai stepped into the Google headquarters on April 1, 2004. Little did he know that almost a decade later, he would be running the place, and would become a living example of the American Dream come true.