Indian-born CEOs in the West have come a long way from the 1980s, when they were seen as geeks and nerds barely capable of making it to the top job. They are playing new games with confidence and charm, as three developments revealed this month.
Delhi-bred Anshu Jain, co-chief executive of Deutsche Bank, surprised shareholders on Thursday. No, not with profit numbers, but with a halting speech in German. For the cricket-loving Shri Ram College of Commerce graduate Jain, who had preferred to live in London over Frankfurt despite his rise in the institution, it was a cognitive leap of sorts.
Shareholders broke into an applause barely two minutes into his speech that charmed those for whom his language had been a big issue in leading a true-blue German brand.
“It wasn’t what he said that pleased the audience so much as the language he used,” said The New York Times in a blog.
Earlier in May, software tycoon Vivek Ranadive became the first person of Indian descent to become the owner of a major US basketball team. The wiry, Mumbai-born Ranadive educated at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology is moving to control the ailing Sacramento Kings.
“It’s going to be exciting,” he said after sealing a pact to buy 65% of the Kings from the Maloof family for a valuation of $535 million. This is a record for the National Basketball Association (NBA) league. Now he wants to turn the Kings into a global brand - although it is facing coach and office problems.
“Ranadive said he would move ‘quickly’ for a resolution to run the front office and the coaching situation,” the Sacramento Bee reported. Ranadive also runs a private social network for global leaders, Topcom.
Earlier this week, IIT-Kanpur graduate Shashi Seth, who grew up in Pune, landed a prestigious assignment when he was named to head Tribune Digital Ventures as an independent unit based in the Silcon Valley. That’s news because this is from the publishers of the Chicago Tribune and Lost Angeles Times.
Seth’s geographical location was a dash of ‘cool’ to make the staid old newspapers adapt to the Digital Age. His job would be develop new products around the content of the newspaper group.
Seth was earlier senior vice-president at Yahoo doing research on media content and search and before that a senior vice-president at AOL Time Warner. This was after being a ‘head of monetisation’ at Google when it acquired YouTube.