Satya Nadella: 10 Things to Know About Microsoft's New CEO

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2014-02-06 Print this article Print

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's value as a chief executive is the subject of an increasingly heated debate. Those who support Microsoft say he has all the tools necessary to improve the company's operation. Others, however, have argued that Nadella was the "safe" choice and yet another hand-picked executive who will be subservient to the real power wielded by company co-founder Bill Gates. Nadella, in other words, is just more of the same, they say. But getting into that debate now makes little sense. Nadella's future decision-making authority cannot be so easily belittled after just a few days on the job. Many shareholders and Microsoft employees are likely taking time to consider whether Nadella truly has the requisite skills needed to lead a great company like Microsoft going forward. All that education, however, starts with a firm understanding of who Nadella is, what might govern his decision-making, and what informs his vision on technology. So, in the following slides, eWEEK will take a look at Nadella's past to offer some insight into who he is—and who he is not.

  • Satya Nadella: 10 Things to Know About Microsoft's New CEO

    by Don Reisinger
    1 - Satya Nadella: 10 Things to Know About Microsoft's New CEO
  • He Was Born in India

    To understand Satya Nadella is to understand his roots. He was born in India and completed his undergraduate education there before heading to the United States to begin his post-graduate studies and IT industry career. Interestingly, Nadella was an accomplished cricket player. He says that the game went a long way in teaching him the essence of working in teams and leadership.
    2 - He Was Born in India
  • He's Extremely Well-Educated

    Nadella is one smart man. After graduating from Mangalore University, he then completed his Master of Science in Computer Science at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He also earned an M.B.A. at the renowned University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Simply put, he has the educational background to back up his current role.
    3 - He's Extremely Well-Educated
  • He's Young

    Born in 1967, Nadella is a breath of fresh air for Microsoft, which has been run by the much older Steve Ballmer for years. Assuming Nadella does a good job at Microsoft, he could remain in the CEO position for 20 years and create a whole new generation of innovation in Redmond. It's an exciting thought.
    4 - He's Young
  • The Tale Starts at Sun

    To understand Nadella's view on technology, one must understand where it all began. After moving to the United States, Nadella landed his first job in Sun Microsystems' technology division. Microsoft doesn't say exactly what he did at Sun, but suffice it to say that he got a close-up look at enterprise computing while there.
    5 - The Tale Starts at Sun
  • He's a Longtime Microsoft Executive

    Although Nadella might have started at Sun, he's been in Redmond for a very long time. He joined the software giant in 1992 and quickly moved up the ranks. He's been at Microsoft long enough to experience Bill Gates' influence, see Steve Ballmer take over, witness the Windows Vista mistake and watch the rise of Google. Whether all that history will help his tenure as CEO remains to be seen.
    6 - He's a Longtime Microsoft Executive
  • It's All About the Enterprise

    Nadella's career at Microsoft has been dominated by the enterprise. While at Microsoft, he's served as president of the company's server and tools business, headed its Microsoft Business Division and been the leader of the company's Cloud and Enterprise operations. All that enterprise focus will allow him to understand enterprise customers' needs and concerns in the cloud computing era.
    7 - It's All About the Enterprise
  • Interesting Note: Search and Ads

    Although much of his career was based in enterprise services, Nadella for a time worked on Microsoft's online business. In fact, for four years, he led the company's Online Services research and development. Nadella was also corporate vice president for Microsoft's Search and Advertising Platform Group. It should be interesting to see how that affects his decision-making around Bing.
    8 - Interesting Note: Search and Ads
  • He's Microsoft's Cloud Visionary

    Nadella is the reason Microsoft has been able to build out its cloud solutions to this point. Nadella was the visionary behind Microsoft Azure and has helped turn the company from one that was focused on licensed software into one that values cloud solutions. It's a shining achievement, and one that could help Microsoft significantly in the coming years.
    9 - He's Microsoft's Cloud Visionary
  • He's Quickly Grown Microsoft's Revenue

    Perhaps part of the reason Nadella was chosen for his new job is his ability to effectively build business. Between 2011 and 2013, the period Nadella ran Microsoft's Cloud Services group, he increased its revenue from $16.6 billion to $20.3 billion. He's already helped make the cloud crucial to Microsoft's business plans, and that was certainly a big factor in helping him get the CEO job.
    10 - He's Quickly Grown Microsoft's Revenue
  • He's All About Speed

    Speed appears to be the cornerstone of Nadella's plans for Microsoft. In fact, speed has been the cornerstone of his plan all along at the company. In a letter to employees, Nadella said that Microsoft needs to get the right products to the right customers far more quickly than it has in the past. Expect Nadella to try to make Microsoft be more agile under his leadership.
    11 - He's All About Speed

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