When Satya Nadella first started at Microsoft, he flew to Chicago every weekend to finish his MBA

Satya NadellaMicrosoftMicrosoft CEO Satya Nadella

When Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella first joined the company in 1992, he was one of only around 30 Indian immigrants employed by the company.

That group of immigrants became pretty tight-knit, with everybody knowing each other, and they were all working hard to make their mark at the company.

“You have to remember, we were just a bunch of Indian immigrants working our asses off,” says Indix CEO and former Microsoft executive Sanjay Parthasarathy.

But Nadella’s work ethic stood apart, Parthasarathy says — every Friday, right after work, he’d board a plane from Microsoft’s Washington headquarters and jet over to Chicago, where he was working on his MBA at Chicago University’s Booth School of Business.

“It used to blow me away, how hard he used to work,” Parthasarathy says.

Nadella, for his part, had moved to the United States from India in 1988 to get his Computer Science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milkwaukee, before going to work for Sun Microsystems in 1990.

Parthasarathy, who had an illustrious career at the company from 1989 to 2009 of his own, actually recruited Nadella internally circa 1993 to work on Microsoft’s ill-fated interactive TV project.

Sanjay Parthasarathy Indix MicrosoftIndixIndix CEO Sanjay Parthasarathy

Parthasarathy would go on in 2000 to lead up the launch of the .NET programming framework, and started the Microsoft Developer and Platform Evangelism team, which played a crucial role in Microsoft’s developer outreach.

In the mid-nineties, he also ended moving his family back to India to head up Microsoft India, convincing the company to invest heavily in the region. When Bill Gates took his first tour of India in 1997, Parthasarathy was his tour guide.

These days, Parthasarathy’s Indix is going back to his early interests in commerce, providing an application programming interface, or “API,” for developers to access a massive database of products.

That data can be used for everything from simply embedding product information into an application, to helping stores gauge costs and availability for their products.

“I’d like to help to drive the business model of the Internet in a more efficient way,” Parthasarathy says.

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