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Google, Microsoft led by India-born CEOs and not Chinese, so China govt is puzzled and worried

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Google, Microsoft led by India-born CEOs and not Chinese, so China govt is puzzled and worried

Today, Silicon Valley is dominated by the likes of Indian-origin CEOs like Satya Nadella, who replaced Steve Ballmer as the Microsoft CEO back in 2014, or Sundar Pichai, who has been leading Google since 2015.

Chinese are good at manufacturing high-tech product but not good at leading companies that are making these products: This seems to be the thought behind a recent article in The Global Times, a Chinese newspaper controlled by the People's Party and hence effectively a mouthpiece of the government. In the article, the state-run newspaper wonders why Silicon Valley companies like Google and Microsoft have opted for Indian CEOs and what China can learn from it.

After exploring the question, The Global Times articles highlights how Indians are "adaptable" and have the right skills that help them climb the corporate ladder whereas the Chinese professionals in Silicon Valley languish behind.

India and China are among the ten biggest economies in the world in 2018. While the Chinese economy is valued around $14 trillion, second to only the United States, the Indian economy is valued at $2.85 trillion and hence stands at the 7th spot according to IMF 2018 data. However, despite witnessing a boom in its digital economy and marching ahead of India in the economic growth, China hasn't been able to place many stalwarts at the top of the managerial ladder in the Silicon Valley or in other US-based companies.

By contrast, many Indian Americans are successfully leading tech companies like Google and Microsoft into their second innings. Today, Silicon Valley is dominated by the likes of Indian-origin CEOs like Satya Nadella, who replaced Steve Ballmer as the Microsoft CEO back in 2014, or Sundar Pichai, who has been leading Google since 2015. While Pichai and Nadella might be the poster boys who put India's name on the global centre stage, they are not the only Indians leading multinational giants based in the United States.

Adobe's Shantanu Narayen, SanDisk's Sanjay Mehrotra, PepsiCo's Indra Nooyi, and Cognizant's Francisco D'Souza have been leading their respective companies for nearly a decade now. On the contrary, not many Chinese hold top positions in Silicon Valley firms.

The reason for disparity, China-based the Global Times points out, lies in the adaptability of the Indians and their "polarising MBA" degrees.

MBA degrees have become a fairly common educational qualification for the Indians. As per the report, holding a master's degree or even a PhD degree in science is a standard for Indian-origin CEOs in the US-based tech firms. "Most Indians at US high-tech firms seem to follow the same career path: They start as an engineer and then manage products. It's crucial for those who wish to pursue high-level management posts, as rotations in different product or business units help one better understand the firm's strategies and operations," Chris Dong, global research director at IDC China, was quoted as saying by the Global Times.

Another reason why Indian fare better at US-based tech firms is because of their adaptability. Most "good students good in India" tend to be proficient in English, which makes it easier for them to adapt when they move to the US, the UK or Canada. Chinese people on the other hand tend to move back to their homeland. Also, language sometimes acts as a barrier for the first generation people who migrate to the US from China.

"Foreign companies are more willing to set up outsourcing centers and research centers in India, which is beneficial for the nurturing of global and high-end talent," Dong was quoted as saying, while noting that recognition of Indian talent by the US firms was yet another reason why Indians took the top spots in the US-based firms.

The state-run English daily talked about the same topic earlier in 2017. In that report too it credited greater adaptability of the Indians and their talent of combining management skills with professional knowledge for the trend. The report also suggested that the "Western education" of the Indian CEOs, particularly in the business schools in the US and Europe, helped them to find lucrative jobs and develop a firm footing in their respective companies.