Opinion

From A Lower Middle-Class Family To Being Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai’s Story Is ‘The Great American Dream’ Come True

Different people have different motivations. Some are chasing dreams; others are only interested in making money. However, money is an inevitable part of life. Even the people who follow their passions are interested in getting rich. The American dream which has fascinated many Indians for long (a large number of Indian students, predominantly engineering, make it to the US every year) stresses on a life of material comfort achieved through the means of hard-work and persistence. Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google is one Indian who makes fellow Indians beam with pride.

Every story of success sounds fascinating. What most people ignore are the tough times endured in walking the path of glory. Sundar’s journey was no different. He was born in a lower middle-class family in Chennai. The family lived in a two-room apartment where Pichai& his brother shared the living room. Pichai’s father was a foreman at the electrical appliance major General Electricals. And his mother was a stenographer (court reporter).

For most of his childhood, Pichai had no television. The family used an old & sluggish lambretta scooter for travel. Local buses were their next best option. Sundar was 12 years old when his father bought home a rotary telephone. Sundar was such a genius with numbers that he could recall all the dialled numbers in a day. Till date, top Google executives vouch for his supreme mathematical abilities.

Pichai, later made it to IIT Kharagpur where he surpassed all his competitors and earned a scholarship to Stanford. He was set to study materials science & semiconductor physics at the university. Pichai’s father tried seeking a loan for him to fly to the US, but it didn’t work out. The family later withdrew their personal savings of Rs 50,000 for Sundar to board the plane. In 1993, Sundar was at Stanford staring at new possibilities.

He chucked the idea of pursuing a PhD at Stanford and on second thought took up a job as an engineer and product manager at Applied Materials, a Silicon Valley semiconductor maker. He later worked at McKinsey consulting. An MBA & a few years later, Sundar arrived at Google in2004. Ten years later&Pichai was heading the world’s best search engine. He had the control keys at Google & had become an iconic example of realising the American Dream.


Alok Shetty

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