mangalore today
Thursday, July 18

India’s best students who became CEOs

India’s best students who became CEOs

Mtoday news


Co-founder / Chairman, Infosys


As a boy, Nagavara Ramarao Narayana Murthy was someone who could easily go unnoticed in a crowd. He was short, but sharp. Often, his seniors in school came to him for solving Science problems.
Murthy came from a lower middle class, Brahmin family from Mysore. His father, a school teacher, was fond of English literature. And like all the boys of his class, he too had dreams of going to IIT. So he worked hard, studied in the shade of boulders close to Chamundi hills, and helped many in his class to prepare for the entrance exam.

Murthy wasn’t surprised when he got through. When he broke the news of his success to his father, it is said his words were: ‘Anna, I have passed the exam…I want to join IIT.” Proud he was of his son’s achievement but he couldn’t afford the fees and so Murthy had to relinquish his IIT dreams. Murthy stayed back in Mysore. When asked about his decision to stay back, he said to his friends, "It is not the institution but you alone who can change your life with hard work".

He lived up to his own words. Several years afterwards, Narayana Murthy revolutionised India’s software industry by founding Infosys. And this has made him the icon of middle class dreams. He redefined India in the eyes world. India was no longer a third world country, but a fast developing nation. In the process, he promoted thousands of young, creative Indian minds to the world and made Infosys and India a hub of talent.

It is known to the world that he founded Infosys along with six others with just a few thousand rupees which his wife, Sudha Murthy gave. It was an incredible risk to take, but Murthy knew it was going to work, just as he knew he would get through IIT. Which he did, eventually. After Murthy graduated from the National Institute of Engineering, Mysore, he joined IIT, Kanpur.

Thanks to IT and its development, the little known romance of Murthy and Sudha Kulkarni is talked about everywhere. It is hard to believe reading from Sudha’s account of an introvert, quiet Murthy, that he is the same person to have revolutionised the IT industry.

When Murthy was asked by Sudha’s father about his ambitions, he said he wanted to become a politician in the communist party and wanted to open an orphanage.
While he has opened several orphanages since, his dream of becoming a politician still remains unfulfilled. After retiring from Infosys, Murthy was hoping to become President of India after the term of Dr. Abdul Kalam. Even though he denied having political ambitions, his supporters would like to see him on the throne.

Our Mysore Murthy is, no doubt, a visionary who has ignited millions of young minds.

B E (1967)
MTech (1969)
Honours and Awards
Padma Vibushan- 2008
Officer of the Legion of Honor- 2008
World Entrepreneur of the Year- 2003
Business India’s “Businessman of the Year- 1999
JRD Tata Corporate Leadership Award- 1996-97

Chairman & CEO, PepsiCo

Chairman of PepsiCo’s Board of Directors, Indra is the highest-ranking Indian-born woman in corporate America, and she attributes much of her success to her upbringing in India. "Being a woman and being foreign-born, you’ve got to be smarter than anyone else," says Nooyi, who often dons a sari at PepsiCo events.

She completed schooling at Holy Angels AIHSS, Chennai, has a BSc (Chemistry) from Madras Christian College in 1974 and a PGDM from IIM Calcutta. In 1978, Nooyi earned a Master’s degree in Public and Private Management from Yale School of Management. At Yale, she worked as a receptionist from midnight to 5 a.m. to earn some money.

Career graph: Starting her career in India, Nooyi held different positions at Johnson & Johnson and textile firm Mettur Beardsell. In the US, Nooyi worked with BCG, Motorola and ABB. Nooyi joined PepsiCo in 1994, and became chairperson in 2007.

Childhood memories: As a child, Indra’s grandfather insisted on academic excellence from his grandchildren. According to Indra, when she did not figure in the top three ranks in class, she preferred to throw herself under a bus than face her grandfather.


2007, Padma Bhushan
2008 Elected as Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Former CEO, Vodafone

Born on October 21, 1954 at Panchmari, Madhya Pradesh, Sarin was an academically bright student. He was equally good at sports like field hockey, boxing and various extracurricular activities. He wanted to follow his father’s footsteps into the military by pursuing a career as a pilot, but when his mom protested, he applied and was accepted at IIT, Kharagpur.

He graduated from the IIT in 1975 with a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering in the top 10 percent of his class and received the BC Roy gold medal for academic excellence. He received a full scholarship to the University of California, Berkeley, Graduate College of Engineering.
In the year 2003, Sarin became the Chief Executive Officer of Vodafone. When he resigned in 2008 from his post Vodafone was the world’s largest mobile phone company by revenue. It was the firm’s large market presence in India that catapulted Sarin into the limelight. Currently he serves on the boards of Cisco and Safeway, Inc.

BTech (IIT)
MBA (Haas UC,Berkeley)

University of California at Berkeley, Haas School Business Leader of Year- 2002
University of California Trust (UK) Award- 2003

Born in Nagpur, Pandit was the Citigroup’s youngest CEO when he took over in 2007. The first Indian to achieve this feat, the job was touted as the toughest in the world due to the company’s poor performance.

A brilliant boy in school, he moved to US when he was 16. After finishing his Master’s in electrical engineering and MBA from Columbia University, he was determined to get a PhD in a different subject. In those days, students preferred to either study medicine or engineering. And that was the time when his guide advised him to take up finance, as it was a good field. He followed the advice, and switched to finance.

For a brief span, he taught at Indiana University Bloomington, Columbia’s Business School. He stepped into the corporate world in 1994, as a head of Morgan Stanley. His administrative and technical skills, plus an ability to make himself indispensable to bosses like John J. Mack and Phillip J. Purcell, fuelled his career at Morgan Stanley, where he became the president. He dealt with the Institutional Securities Division, Worldwide Institutional Equities Division. For him, this was an interesting area to work on “To do well you have to put a lot of yourself into it.”

BS, Electrical Engineering, Columbia University (1976)
MS, Columbia University (1977)
MBA, Columbia Business School, Columbia University (1980)
PhD, Columbia Business School, Columbia University (1986)

Pioneer of web-based e-mail ’Hotmail’

Sabeer Bhatia has done the unconventional ever since he decided to study abroad at the age of 19; two years into undergraduate education at the Birla Institute of Technology and Science, he qualified for a transfer scholarship at Caltech, considered to be the world’s most competitive scholarship. After graduating from Caltech in 1989, he pursued an MS in Electrical Engineering at Stanford University.

At the age of 27, Bhatia was no longer interested in working for others, and together with Smith, began chasing what many people in Silicon Valley deemed a “crazy idea” – a free e-mail service. They raised about $300,000 for their venture - Hotmail. Within a year, Hotmail had one million subscribers. So revolutionary was it that Microsoft bought it for $400 million after 18 months.

Did you know?
* He was rejected by 20 venture capitalists before Draper Fisher Juvetson bought his idea.
* The original spelling was HoTMaiL
TR100 by the MIT, given to 100 young innovators who are expected to have the greatest impact on technology.

BTech, BITS Pilani
BSc(Honours) California Institute of Technology, US
MS Electrical Engineering (Stanford)

This article is related to: Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IIT-K)

Write Comment | E-Mail To a Friend | Facebook | Twitter | Print
Write your Comments on this Article
Your Name
Native Place / Place of Residence
Your E-mail
Your Comment
You have characters left.
Security Validation
Enter the characters in the image above