Last week, Microsoft announced that Satya Nadella would succeed Steve Ballmer as CEO.
A 22-year veteran of the company who previously led Microsoft’s cloud and enterprise efforts, Nadella is generally considered a safe choice for the top executive spot.
He’s known within the company for being private, mild-mannered, and one to avoid management drama.
We’ve dug up some facts about Nadella you might not have known.
1. He’s a huge cricket fan and says it’s inspired the way he does business.
In an interview with Hyderabad’s Deccan Chronicle last summer, Nadella reflected on how playing the sport had an impact on his life.
“I think playing cricket for HPS (Hyderabad Public School) taught me more about working in teams and leadership that has stayed with me throughout my career,” he said. “There was this one particular incident in a match where my school captain noticed I was bowling some really ordinary stuff. He took over the next over himself, got our team the much-needed breakthrough and then threw the ball back to me in the next over! I will never forget that. What made him do that? Is this what they call leadership? These are the kind of questions I have since reflected on as I approach many of the things I do today leading teams.”
2. He married his high school sweetheart.
According to the Times of India, Nadella met his wife Anupuma when they were both students at Hyderabad Public School in the early ’80s. They’ve now been married for 22 years and have three kids together.
3. He’s a Seahawks fan.
Shortly after the Super Bowl, Nadella tweeted his congratulations to the Seahawks and team owner Paul Allen. (Allen is also a Microsoft co-founder.) He included a picture of himself in a hoodie bearing the team’s logo.
4. He takes online classes in his spare time.
In his first email to Microsoft employees as CEO, Nadella described himself as a lifelong learner who buys more books and signs up for more online courses than he could ever complete.
“[I’m] just crazy ambitious in the 15 minutes I have in the morning. You know, I’m trying to listen to a neuroscience class or something,” he told Politico.
5. He’s really into poetry.
Nadella’s official Microsoft profile lists poetry as one of his hobbies.
He’s compared his passion for poetry to coding.
“You’re trying to take something that can be described in many, many sentences and pages of prose, but you can convert it into a couple lines of poetry and you still get the essence, so it’s that compression. The best code is poetry,” he said to Politico.
He even brings up literature when talking about test cricket, which, as the longest form of his favourite sport, can sometimes last up to five days.
“I love it,” he said to the Economic Times. “There’s so many subplots in it, it’s like reading a Russian novel.”
6. He has a sweet tooth.
Microsoft’s new CEO apparently has a passion for pastries, according to the Times of India. He’s remembered fondly by high school friends as one who took full advantage of tea time, and his former school always has a good spread ready for him when he visits.
“Despite his sweet tooth, he retains his whippet-thin physique thanks to a passion for running,” the Times of India reports.
7. He’s very private.
Nadella has been remarkably quiet on Twitter — despite having more than 111,000 followers, he’s only tweeted 27 times since making an account in February 2009.
Still, judging by the number of exclamation points used in those few tweets, he seems pretty enthusiastic.
He’s vowed to have more of a Twitter presence in his new role.
8. He’s highly educated.
After getting his degree in electrical engineering from India’s Mangalore University, Nadella continued his education with a master’s degree in computer science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
According to New Delhi Television, he was on track to get his MBA from the University of Chicago when he received his job offer from Microsoft in 1992. Rather than choose between the two paths, he decided to do both at the same time, flying to Chicago Friday nights to attend classes before heading back to Redmond, Wash. for the work week. He received his MBA in two and a half years following that hectic schedule.
9. He gives back.
According to the Times of India, Nadella is a huge inspiration for students at his alma mater. Hyderabad Public School was the first school to be selected for the I-spark program, which utilized Microsoft materials and software to help young Indian students jump-start careers in tech.
“He interacted with each of the students. It’s great to see a figure like him and learn from him. His down-to-earth attitude was very impressive and students were really comfortable interacting with him and learning from him,” former classmate Faiz Khan told the Times of India.
Nadella has also met with government officials about improving IT education in schools across India.
10. He’s now one of the most powerful Indian businessmen in the world.
Nadella’s appointment as CEO makes him the most powerful Indian-born tech executive in the world, according to Reuters. He joins PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi among Indians reaching the very top of well-known American corporations.
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