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Microsoft helps support India's economic infrastructure: Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft

We are proud to be a large and vital part of the India growth story -- twenty of the top 20 companies in India use our technology, says Nadella.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Mar 10, 2014, 05.29 PM IST
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'Ultimately, my job, as CEO, is to drive clarity around our strategy & serve our team members such that they can do their best work,' says Satya Nadella.
'Ultimately, my job, as CEO, is to drive clarity around our strategy & serve our team members such that they can do their best work,' says Satya Nadella.


Microsoft is striving to become nimbler and innovate more rapidly as it adapts to a mobile-centred world, CEO Satya Nadella says in an email interview. Paying close attention to what customers want will be a vital part of his new job, he tells ET.

What did you think of the reaction in India to your elevation as CEO?

I feel incredibly thankful and humbled for all of the support in India. I received congratulations and best wishes from so many people - not just friends and former colleagues, but also people that I had never met. I deeply appreciate all of the support and encouragement I have received from people all across India.

How would you describe your management style? Are there any specific measures you plan to take to make Microsoft more nimble and innovative?

I strive to be a good listener and also a decisive leader. I think it's very important to listen to a wide range of viewpoints - customers, partners, developers, employees, students - but it's also important to take all that input in a timely manner and make good decisions so that you can move forward. We are definitely taking steps to ensure that Microsoft becomes a more nimble company that can innovate more quickly. I tell people at Microsoft that we sometimes overestimate how much we need others to do, and underestimate the power each of us have to make things happen. I am working to create a culture within Microsoft

What is your topmost priority for 2014?

I've been spending a lot of time with our senior leadership team and talking to employees and the thing I keep coming back to is zeroing in on what we can uniquely deliver to customers that is most valuable to them. Our goal is to build high value experiences that empower end users and organizations to do more and be more. This will be expressed in our devices and services.

I'm also focused on getting out and meeting with a broad set of constituencies - customers, partners and investors. I've had the opportunity to do that in my first few weeks in role and the feedback has been really valuable. Ultimately, my job, as CEO, is to drive clarity around our strategy and serve our team members such that they can do their best work.

Why do you believe that Microsoft's cloud offering is superior to that of competitors?

We've listened to the needs of customers and built the most comprehensive offering that speaks to their needs. Microsoft Cloud delivers the leading applications in Office 365 and Dynamics. It delivers the leading cloud platform in Microsoft Azure. And we don't stop there, we also enable others to build their own clouds using Windows Server thus enabling true Hybrid cloud deployments. No other vendor does these three things in the marketplace today. And we believe unless you do all three you can't meet the diverse needs of enterprise customers across industries, geographies and sizes.

Has growing up in India helped in your professional conquests? What are the qualities that you attribute to your Indian identity?

I am proud of my Indian heritage and the educational and personal foundation I received in India. I could never put into words all of the ways that India has shaped me, but I believe it's helped me gain a recognition of the incredible diversity of people, cultures, and points-of-view that exist in the world, and a desire to understand where people are coming from, be they partners, customers or colleagues.
 

What is the most important thing that Microsoft must do to connect better among users in the consumer segment?

Our company was born on productivity - meaning we've always been focused on our users and what our technology enables them to do. And now we're reinventing productivity for a mobile first and cloud first world. So when I think about the value we'll bring to consumers, we are going to empower them to do more of the things they're most passionate about - communicating with loved ones, getting stuff done, creating, entertainment - whether it's at work, or in their daily lives. This will be expressed through our services and rich experiences on devices.

Since you took over as CEO, what has been the nature of your interaction with Bill Gates? Can you illustrate this with an example/anecdote?

I've had the honor of working closely with Bill for several years now, and I have learned a great deal from him. As CEO, I have asked him to help me by devoting a greater portion of his time to the company, helping me and the leadership team think through our strategic direction and what products and technologies we will pursue. Bill has very generously agreed to provide his insights and strategic thinking. Having Bill Gates by my side as a technology advisor is a tremendous asset as we tackle the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Can you give us a peek into three innovations that Microsoft will bring to market that will define the essence of the future of the company?

Well, I can't disclose too much before we are ready to bring them to market, but I can tell you that you will see Microsoft focusing even more intensely on products and services that fully embrace "mobile first" and "cloud first" value.

Will Microsoft be shopping more aggressively for acquisitions in Silicon Valley and elsewhere? (Can you elaborate, please?)

We'll continue to look for ways to advance our devices and services and deliver the greatest innovation to our customers in the quickest and most effective manner possible. In many cases, that will be through our own world-class research and development efforts. In other cases, it will be in partnership with other companies. And in some cases, it will be through acquisition of great technology and great people. As an example, with the Nokia Devices and Services business joining Microsoft in the very near future, we are excited about the addition of their world-class product design, manufacturing, supply chain and mobile expertise to the Microsoft family.

How will you persuade a bright young technology professional with multiple job offers to join your company?

I believe people (myself included) come to Microsoft for a few reasons - the ability to change the world, opportunity to work on exciting products and the chance to work with an incredible group of people.

Ours is a culture that focuses on our people - we invest in talent and give employees opportunities to refine and learn new skills. It's an incredible time to be at Microsoft. As computing becomes more ubiquitous and intelligence is ambient in the world, software driven innovation delivered through devices and services will be everywhere. Being at Microsoft gets you the best seat from which to enjoy this incredible journey of innovation.

Does the role of Microsoft India change in any way? (Can you explain, please?)

India has always been a vital part of Microsoft's plans, and I think that only increases going forward.

We have been in India for more than two decades and have a large footprint of our sales, research, development and customer services operations. We have more than 6,000 employees in India, and just as important we have over 10,000 partners in India, creating thousands of jobs and a vibrant technology ecosystem.

We are proud to be a large and vital part of the India growth story -- twenty of the top 20 companies in India use our technology. Five of the top 5 IT companies, five of the top 5 manufacturing companies, five of the top 5 banking organizations - across virtually every sector, Microsoft technology is helping support the economic infrastructure of India.

I'm also very passionate about the work we do to support education and other societal goals across India. Microsoft has been running one of the largest not-for-profit education and skills development programs in India. Over the last two decades, our programs have helped over 40 million students, teachers, and budding entrepreneurs in India.

We are proud of what we have achieved in India and are excited about the possibilities in the country.

What do you do to relax? Who is your favorite contemporary cricketer and why?

I read, row and run. But I wish did more of each. I love to learn all the time from books, online courses and meeting people. Just this weekend I am trying to cram some through an online course on computational neuroscience. It's mostly over my head (no pun intended).

In terms of recent Cricket I would say I am just amazed at what Mitchell Johnson has been able to do to single handedly in terms of changing the course of Australian Cricket. I also love the way Virat Kohli is shaping up, his one day numbers are pretty staggering. All that said I must say I am nostalgic about Hyderabadi batsmen who can play those wristy on-drives from outside off!

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