Sundar Pichai grew up in a two-room apartment in Chennai, India. At 12, he received his first phone, sparking a love of technology, a passion for exchanging ideas and a gateway to a world of knowledge his parents encouraged him to explore.
He studied first at the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur and then at Stanford University in the heart of America’s Silicon Valley. Pichai joined Google in 2004 and was named its chief executive officer in 2015.
Pichai now leads thousands of employees at the multibillion-dollar company. He is just one of the Indian Americans leading major U.S. technology companies whose ideas shape the world around us.
Their success comes as more students received visas last year to study at U.S. universities from India than from any other country. In September 2022, the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi announced it had already issued a record 82,000 visas to Indian students.
Like Pichai, these Indian students seek to study in the United States and build on the foundation they received in India before pursuing their dreams. Other Indian Americans who have risen to lead major U.S. tech companies include the following:
- Revathi Advaithi has served as CEO of the technology manufacturing and design firm Flex since February 2019, leading a workforce that spans 30 countries. “The American dream is all about hard working and risk taking,” Advaithi says. “If you work hard and if you are good at what you do, then you will get all the opportunities that you deserve.”
- Arvind Krishna has worked at IBM for 30 years, helping drive innovation in emerging technology fields such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing and blockchain. He became CEO of IBM in 2020.
- Sanjay Mehrotra co-founded SanDisk and is currently CEO of Micron Technology, a semiconductor and microchip design firm.
- Satya Nadella joined Microsoft in 1992 and led research and development for the company’s Online Services Division before being named CEO in 2014.
- Shantanu Narayen began working in Adobe’s engineering and technology group in 1998 before becoming CEO in 2007. He holds five patents.
- Raghu Raghuram joined the cloud computing and virtualization technology company VMware in 2003 and currently serves as CEO.
- Jayshree Ullal, born in London and educated in New Delhi and California, has led the cloud networking firm Arista Networks for over a decade, expanding the company into a multibillion-dollar business.
These prominent Indian Americans exemplify the close cultural and economic ties between the United States and India. The countries’ shared interests include a commitment to democracy and promoting global security, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond through free trade and investment.
The United States remains India’s largest trading partner, with bilateral trade between the countries reaching a record $157 billion in 2021.
In December 2022, India’s ambassador to the United States Taranjit Singh Sandhu awarded Pichai the Padma Bhushan, one of India’s highest civilian honors. He called Pichai’s journey “inspirational” and said Pichai has strengthened U.S.-India economic ties while affirming India’s contributions to global innovation.
Delighted to hand over Padma Bhushan to CEO @Google & Alphabet @sundarpichai in San Francisco.
Sundar’s inspirational journey from #Madurai to Mountain View, strengthening 🇮🇳🇺🇸economic & tech. ties, reaffirms Indian talent’s contribution to global innovation pic.twitter.com/cDRL1aXiW6
— Taranjit Singh Sandhu (@SandhuTaranjitS) December 2, 2022
Pichai credits his family’s love of learning and his Indian heritage for putting him on a path to success in the United States.
“India is a part of me,” he said upon receiving the award. “I carry it with me wherever I go.”