Indians now taking over as CEO of Global Organizations

In this article we want to highlight the caliber of Indian talent who are really catering to the Global needs of Global companies. It is not simply Globalization of business or exporting products and services to all over the world. This article proves that Indian talent can also make significant contribution in foreign companies and have reached the top level proving themselves among their foreign colleagues.

The elevation of Indian-born Vikram Pandit as CEO of the world’s largest financial institution has cast the spotlight on foreign born head honchos in the American corporate world, with the conspicuous realization here that 15 of the Fortune 100 companies are run by foreign born executives.

Even more striking is that three of the 15 are of Indian-origin, with perhaps an equal number in the larger Fortune 500. Pandit now heads the list as CEO of Citigroup, which is ranked 8th in the Fortune 100, followed by Indira Nooyi at Pepsico, which is ranked 63rd. Ramani Ayer is CEO of Hartford Financial Services which is 82 in the fortune 100.

All three were born in India and took the familiar route to the US to study – Pandit to Columbia University Nooyi to Yale and Ayer to Drexel University.

Te shift towards appointing foreign-born CEOs reflect, is a part of the strategy that companies focus on foreign markets for growth.

Ironically the leading newspaper in US even quoted a business school academic of Indian-origin reflecting on the trend. It’s just a numbers game, deputy dean of the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology told the paper.

It’s absolutely nothing wrong with the US, but our population here is only 300 million. Imagine two billion people from the outside start getting a decent education and going through the pipeline. Well, we are going to encounter more of them who rise to the top.

Pandit, Nooyi and Ramani further the pioneering road taken by Vinod Khosla Kanwal Rekhi and other Silicon Valley Indians who became the first CEOs of Indian-origin in the 1980s
Most India-born executives readily acknowledge their debt of gratitude to a society that emphasizes industry and hard work and honed their survival skills if nothing else.

Ayer says he has benefited from his Indian background growing up in a very simple family with a real passion for hard work. Work was liberating and work was part of what defined who you were.

In contrast to the US corporations’ worldwide search of the best executive talent, with the suggestion that immigrants may have decisively broken the glass ceiling, Indian companies, many of them closely held, are still guarded on hiring foreign CEOs.

Some of the more prominent examples of bucking the tradition is the hiring by Jet Airways of the Austrian Wollfgang Prock-Schauer as CEO. Another breakthrough is the Hawaiian Raymond Bickson, CEO of Indian Hotels, who has successfully expanded the Taj Hospitality business world wide including in the US. Meantime, Pandit is the toast of the Indian community, whose presence in the US financial world, especially Wall Street, is significant. What’s even more striking is that Pandit is from Nagpur (India), which, while being the geographical center of India, is not the ground zero of the corporate or academic world.

This is great news, exulted Dinesh Keskar, senor vice president at Boeing and like Pandit he is also from Nagpur.

With Vikram, it would be hard to say what he likes or dislikes. Vikram was a great listener and came across as a person who was always seeking information and knowledge. Vikram loved to engage in long discussions to go beyond the routine to understand aspects of the business. Even eight-and-a half years after he started the Indian business, Vikram kept himself engaged. In fact, in the first three years, he would regularly conduct weekly conferences for updates. Vikram was keen in building the investment banking, equity and debt market business in India.

The next step perhaps is Indian CEO monitoring activities of the organization all over the world but with Head Quarters or Corporate office based in India. We can hear the good news shortly.

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