Google’s Sundar Pichai might be one of the kindest executives in the technology industry.
You may not have heard of Sundar Pichai, but he’s quickly become one of the most important people at Google.
Pichai, who was previously in charge of Google’s Chrome and Android divisions, got a big promotion about two months ago. In addition to his previous responsibilities, Pichai is now in charge of all of Google’s major products.
It’s a big role, and he’s taking on these new obligations as CEO Larry Page steps back to focus on the larger picture.
Based on what we’ve heard from Pichai’s previous colleagues at Google, it sounds like he’s more than fit for the new responsibility. One former Google employee, who requested to remain anonymous, described Pichai’s talent for handling chaotic and stressful situations with ease.
“There was definitely a culture at Google where people didn’t always know what was happening,” this person told us. “But Sundar would walk into meetings, an he knew everything he needed to know. He did a good job of seeing how everything moved across different functions.”
There’s one particular story that our source remembers when recalling what it was like to work with Pichai. Before Google officially unveiled its Chrome browser in 2008, the news had leaked out on Labour Day during that year. A comic describing the browser had somehow been sent to a German blogger, and before long it had spread all over the internet.
It was a disaster for the Chrome team’s marketing department. Our source in particular had put in a lot of hard work and long hours on the marketing campaign for Chrome.
At 7 am on Labour Day, a holiday during which Google employees would usually have off, our source received a phone call saying there was some type of emergency happening at the Mountain View office. The marketing went into “hyber drive,” as our source described it, and turned on every marketing channel for Chrome.
“And what was amazing was [that] you had hundred of people on this team,” our source said. “It felt like Sundar noticed every single person there.”
Pichai didn’t seem angry about the leak, according to our source, and handled the situation calmly.
“He was just down to business,” this person said. “He was like, ‘Ok, we need to get started. Let’s move.’ I never saw any sort of anger come out of him.”
Our source was a low-level marketing employee at the time. Pichai, even back then, held a very important leadership position at Google.
But out of the hundreds of employees on the Chrome team, Pichai took a particular liking to our source’s hard work.
“A week or two later I got a notification from my manager saying Sundar had peer bonused me,” this person said. Peer bonusing is a system where Google employees can just give co-workers a spontaneous bonus on the spot. It’s reportedly in the range of $US175, so not huge money, but good unexpected money, and a sign of respect.
“Which was unheard of simply because he wasn’t my direct manager. And it stuck with me ever since because it was unheard of, someone of that level noticing the work of someone like me.”