In India, would-be Microsoft CEO showed inquisitive streak

Fri Jan 31, 2014 11:55am EST
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By Sumeet Chatterjee

MUMBAI (Reuters) - 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 University.

"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 finalize it.

Nadella grew up in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, a technology hub that is home to the biggest Microsoft research and development center 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.   Continued...

Satya Nadella, executive vice president, Cloud and Enterprise, addresses employees during the One Microsoft Town Hall event in Seattle, Washington in this July 11, 2013 photo made available to Reuters on January 30, 2014. REUTERS/Microsoft/Handout