MUMBAI Jan 31 In his university days in India,
Satya Nadella, likely the next chief executive officer of
Microsoft Corp, was a relentless questioner.
"When all other students will quietly listen to what I would
teach, he will ask a lot of questions - 'why does it have to be
like this, why can't we do it like this?'," said Harishchandra
Hebbar, who taught digital electronics to Nadella at Manipal
"Sometimes it felt like he was just testing my patience,"
said Hebbar, laughing.
That questioning nature has served Nadella well in his
22-year career at Microsoft, the world's largest software
company. Last year he was promoted to run the company's
fast-expanding cloud, or Internet-based, computing initiatives.
His elevation to the top spot at Microsoft would end a
five-month search for a tech-savvy heavy-hitter to lead the
company co-founded by Bill Gates. A source familiar with the
matter told Reuters on Thursday that Nadella's appointment was
likely, although the board had not yet met to finalise it.
Nadella grew up in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, a
technology hub that is home to the biggest Microsoft research
and development centre outside of the United States.
His father was a member of the elite Indian Administrative
Service and a member of the Planning Commission during 2004-2009
under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. His father, B. N.
Yugandhar, who still lives in Hyderabad, declined to speak with
Reuters when reached by phone.
Born in 1967, Nadella attended the prestigious Hyderabad
Public School, where he met his future wife. Nadella studied
electronics and communication engineering, at Manipal
University, where people who knew him at the time described him
as friendly, modest and well-spoken.
Manipal is a mid-ranking private institution, and does not
have the cachet of the elite Indian Institute of Technology
(IIT) and Indian Institute of Management (IIM) where many of
India's global power players were educated.
If he gets the top job at Microsoft, Nadella would join the
growing list of Indian-born executives to head a major global
corporation. They already include PepsiCo Inc CEO Indra
Nooyi and Deutsche Bank co-CEO Executive Anshu Jain.
After graduating in 1988, Nadella, like many ambitious
Indians, moved to the United States to study, earning a master's
degree in computer science from the University of
Ganesh Prasad, a classmate of Nadella at Manipal who remains
in touch with him, recalled a conversation in 1991 when Nadella
was working at Sun Microsystems.
"We were having a conversation and talking about Sun as the
future of hardware ... and he was like: 'you know where I need
to go? I need to be in software and I need to be in marketing
and I need to be in Microsoft'," Prasad recalled by phone from
Bangalore, where he now lives.
Prasad, who worked for 20 years in the United States with
Intel Inc, said Nadella started with a base in
technology and then became interested in how to market it - a
skill set that will be called upon in his new role.
By comparison, Microsoft's previous CEO, Steve Ballmer, was
regarded more as a salesman and cheerleader than a technology
"While he comes from a very strong technology background,
his outlook over the years has changed to: 'so, what, what am I
going to do with this thing? How do I position it? How do I make
sense of it all?'," said Prasad.