Another billion dollar company, another Indian CEO. Last week IBM announced a new CEO and he happens to be Arvind Krishna. He joins the elite list of Indians who are helming some of the biggest companies in the world – from Google to Deloitte, from Adobe to Microsoft.
But what is so unique about Indians that so many major companies are opting for Indians to helm their operations. What is it that separates Indians from their global counterparts?
Well, there are a few of these. And it’s nothing to do with academics or how brilliant one is. I mean, brilliance is self taught and anyone anywhere in the world can decide to be brilliant by putting in the effort needed to be. But there are some things that cannot be learnt individually. One needs to experience it to feel it, to grow with it. And that is where we think Indians have a slight advantage.
List of Indians who are CEO’s of top companies in the world:
- Shantanu Narayen, Adobe
- Sundar Pichai, Alphabet, the parent company of Google
- Satya Narayana Nadella, Microsoft
- Rajeev Suri, Nokia
- Punit Renjen, Deloitte
- Vasant “Vas” Narasimhan, Novartis
- Ajaypal “Ajay” Singh Banga, Mastercard
- Ivan Manuel Menezes, Diageo
- Niraj S. Shah, Wayfair
- Sanjay Mehrotra, Micron
- George Kurian, NetApp
- Nikesh Arora, Palo Alto Networks
- Dinesh C. Paliwal, Harman International Industries
- Arvind Krishna, IBM
Here are the different skills or experiences that we think have groomed Indians to be better CEOs.
Indians are people who do not like to say NO. While this idea of not saying no to one’s face has been met with criticism from various experts, it does have its advantages. Not saying no doesn’t mean that we will agree to whatever the other person is proposing. But saying no in a diplomatic way helps in avoiding uncomfortable situations in the future. It also encourages employees to keep coming up with new ideas and not get bogged down by a NO.
By being born in India, one can come across different types of people, with each set of people facing its own set of challenges. These issues range from financial to social, ethnic to religious. When you see so many people dealing with things that others have taken for granted, you tend to become more empathetic over time.
As a result, when you lead a team or a company, you are more likely to understand the employees and their problems. You know what exactly they are dealing with and having being in that situation before, you are more suitable to solve their problems
Ability to adapt
It may not be entirely true, but most of the guys in Silicon Valley are in their own sweet bubble. They approach every single problem with the same mindset. It has so far worked for them, but when you are dealing with thousands of people from different countries and communities, it may not work that well. Your lack of experience in adapting can become a major hindrance in that.
Indians, by virtue of them being relocated due to higher studies or work are good to adapting. Adapting not only in terms of culture but also food and many other small aspects that end up making a huge difference in one’s personality. In India we call it “Jugad”. Sometimes this comes in handy when faced with a difficult and new problem.
Indians are known to be family people. Most Indians live in huge joint families with their parents and relatives. This might seem alien to the western civilization, but this teaches people the importance of relationships. There is no doubt that differences do occur when one lives in a joint family, but the good thing is that it teaches one how to deal with it when faced with it again.
This experience is particularly relevant in companies, particularly when you are trying to steer your colleagues towards a common goal. You need them to rally behind you, and you can’t do it by force. You need to inspire them and it can be done if you have these values.