Batchmate toasts 'ordinary' Nadella's stellar success

Anointed new CEO of Microsoft, India’s Satya Nadella indeed stands true testimony to the maxim that perseverance pays. 

The 46-year-old third CEO of the global computer software giant, who takes over from Steve Ballmer and was earlier executive vice president of Cloud & Enterprise Group, as his Bangalore-based friend Sunil Shetty fondly recalls “was not very extraordinary nor rank student.”

Shetty, who was Nadella’s 1988 batchmate at Manipal University, however, describing “Nadella was a distinction student and one among the many good students,” observed that “none expected him to make it big. He was just a sober sort of guy.”

“No one had an inkling that Nadella” would one day “turn out to be a CEO and that too of a big corporation with global operations and reputation,” says a proud Shetty of Nadella, whom Bill Gates describes as a “proven leader with hard-core engineering skills, business vision and ability to bring people together, and during the company’s transitory time there was no better person to lead Microsoft.”

Recalling the time he and a few friends spent with Nadella, now rightfully the toast of the nation, during his visit to namma Bengaluru in 2011, Shetty said that while he took to Mechanical Engineering, Nadella, as is destined, went for Electronics and Communication Engineering.

“We would meet after class sessions and during our stay at hostel bump into each other in the canteen. We would dine on the same table. It was mostly a resident university and we all stayed in the same hostel block. As you approach final year, you get a cottage. I remember Nadella staying in the cottage, which was better equipped than the hostel room.” Describing Nadella, who earned degrees from Mangalore University, the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee and the University of Chicago, as a “very quiet and sober in interactions with his fellow mates,” Shetty recollected that “Nadella had a very good and accomplished faculty teaching him.”

Well-equipped faculty

Ascribing the university’s qualitative and well-equipped faculty to laying that crucial and initial founding for Nadella’s stellar rise, Shetty said many other students too have made big strides in scientific and computing world in the West. However, “the difference in Nadella’s case is Nadella has become the head of a very large corporation. Others have been CEO’s of smaller companies.” 

In that, Shetty effusively describes Nadella’s rise and arrival as a truly fabulous and monumental achievement.

Harish Pai, another batchmate of Nadella, says he was aware of Nadella while the latter was staying in the hostel blocks at Manipal.

“He knew of me and I knew of him. We would greet each other and we would have plenty common friends. Our interaction was in circles of friends.”

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