New Delhi: The footprints of Indian-origin corporate executives at multi-nationals are slowly but surely expanding. The latest to join the ever growing list is Sandeep Kataria. He has taken over the reins of footwear major Bata as its global chief executive officer. From FMCG majors to IT titans, Sandeep Kataria joins the league of Indian-origin executives who have climbed the highest echelons of corporates across diverse sectors globally. From Indra Nooyi to Sundar Pichai to Satya Nadella, the list of such people at the helm of multi-billion dollar enterprises is long. Kataria has been elevated as global CEO of Bata from CEO of Bata India.
In the non-IT space, Indra Nooyi led foods and beverages major PepsiCo as its global CEO for 12 years. She stepped down from the post in 2018. Prior to that, she had served the company in various roles for 24 years.
Harish Manwani became the first chief operating officer of FMCG major Unilever in 2011. This happened after he joined the company’s Indian arm HUL as a management trainee in 1976.
It isn’t just Indian IT firms that are powering companies globally. There are also India-born executives, who are heading multi-billion dollar enterprises. Among the names that crop up are those of Nadella, Pichai, Shantanu Narayen and Arvind Krishna.
Nadella, CEO of Microsoft since February 2014, succeeded Steve Ballmer. Pichai on the other hand, took over the reins as Google’s CEO in August 2015. He joined the Board of Directors of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, in July 2017.
Narayen – as the chairman, president and CEO of Adobe – heads one of the world’s largest tech companies. Adobe offers popular software products like ‘Photoshop’ and ‘Illustrator’. The latest entrant to this elite club was Krishna. He took over as the CEO of IBM in April this year, succeeding Ginni Rometty.
George Kurian was named CEO and president of storage and data management company ‘NetApp’ in June 2015. He had earlier served as its executive vice-president of product operations for nearly two years.
The success of India-born executives is not limited to the tech sector alone.
Laxman Narasimhan is the CEO of another multinational FMCG giant Reckitt Benckiser. Other names to reckon with include Ivan Menezes, CEO of world’s leading spirits maker Diageo; Ajaypal Singh Banga, president and CEO of payment processing network Mastercard; and Vasant Narasimhan, CEO of pharmaceuticals major Novartis.
Punit Renjen, the global CEO of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu since 2015, was the first Indian to head one of the global ‘big four’ audit firms. Piyush Gupta has been steering Singapore-headquartered financial services group DBS since 2009.
A list has been released by a US-based Indian diaspora organisation earlier this year. It names a group of 58 Indian-origin executives heading various companies across 11 different countries, including the US, Canada and Singapore. These companies collectively employ more than 3.6 million people. They account for a combined USD 1 trillion in revenue and USD 4 trillion in market capitalisation.
Indian-origin business leaders are reaching the pinnacle of corporate success in greater numbers than ever. Many use their platforms for social change advocacy, said ‘Indiaspora’.
A common thread that binds these Indian-origin executives is their ability to lead a team of diverse people successfully. They do not just excel in delivery but also make bold decisions like the one displayed by Nooyi. She focused on healthier products at the expense of PepsiCo’s core soda drinks business.
Likewise, Pichai focused on developing products and services, powered by the latest advances in AI, that offer help in moments big and small. Under his leadership, Google has invested in new opportunities such as Google Cloud and YouTube. It has continued to be a leader in advanced technologies, including machine learning and quantum computing.
Earlier this year, Google also announced a Rs 33,737 crore investment for 7.7 per cent stake in India’s Jio Platforms. Google said they will build an Android-based smartphone operating system.
The ladder to the top requires consistent performance at each rung, as underlined by Kataria’s elevation at Bata. As the CEO of Bata India Ltd, he has helped drive the company’s consistent growth and profitability. Under Kataria’s leadership, Bata India doubled its profits driven by double-digit topline growth. He also played a significant role in revamping Bata’s image to a more vibrant and contemporary brand, targeted at young consumers.