Success Story of Satya Nadella | Microsoft CEO

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How Did CEO Satya Nadella Change Microsoft’s Culture?

FinnovationZ Convey

7 Min Read    |    May 08, 2021

Believe me, my journey has not been a simple journey of progress. There have been many ups and downs, and it is the choices that I made at each of those times that have helped shape what I have achieved. - Satya Nadella 


The journey to the top and bringing one of those rare companies like Microsoft to have truly revolutionized the world through technology was not an easy task. It would be of great honour for Satya Nadella to have been chosen to lead the company. But, it is not as easy as it looks like. 


Satya Nadella has also had his own fair share of struggles before making it so big. Let us find out how he started his journey as a working individual, acquired the position of CEO of Microsoft and then transformed its direction. 

Early Life of Satya Nadella 

Born on 19 August 1967 in Hyderabad, Telugu household, Satya Narayan Nadella (Satya Nadella) is an engineer and Indian American Business Executive. His father Bukkapuram Nadella Yugandher was a civil servant who worked for the Indian Administrative Service of the Government of India. His mother Prabhavati Yugandher was a scholar of Sanskrit.

Satya Nadella went to Hyderabad Public School in Begumpet, Hyderabad and holds a degree of Bachelors in Electrical Engineering from the Manipal Institute of Technology in Karnataka in 1988. For his higher studies, Satya Nadella travelled to the United States with a wish to acquire a degree of MS in computer science. He did the same from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee and received his degree in 1990. Then he went ahead to the University of Chicago Booth School of Business to do Masters in Business Administration.

Satya Nadella got married to his childhood love, Anupama Priya Nadella in 1992. Satya Nadella and his wife have three children, a son and two daughters. The family lives in Bellevue in Washington State.

Journey to the Top

Satya Nadella belongs from a very humble background and is a son of an IAS. Hence, has some qualities imbibed in himself given by his father. He currently serves as the CEO of Microsoft, succeeding Steve Ballmer in 2014.

Before becoming Chief Executive, he was the Executive Vice President of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise Group. Satya Nadella is responsible for building and running the company’s computing platforms. Finally, he was appointed as the CEO of Microsoft in 2014 and began his tenure from there. By the year 1992, he had already joined Microsoft but was working just as an employee there. He worked on many projects of the company such as online service, advertisement, software, gaming, etc.

When Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was 25 years old and was giving interviews for a job, he failed to show his interviewer the trait he now says has been crucial to his success. 

You must be wondering what was that trait? 

Well, it was empathy. 

He even failed to answer the most basic questions asked by the interviewers. During one such interview, he was thrown out in the middle of the interview. When Satya Nadella asked the interviewer why he was rejected during the middle of the interview, he replied that Satya Nadella needs to build empathy in himself first. 

Now, Satya Nadella says that this attribute has stuck with him and now he always endorses the fact in his workspace as well to be empathetic first.

Satya Nadella was giving interviews for his job in the 1990s at Microsoft Corporations. He stood at a whiteboard, working through streams of algorithms, one after the other, going through quick sorts and bubble sorts, using minimum data structures and minimum memory, showing off his computer science acuity.

 It was an arduous interview.

But, before leaving, Nadella had a question to ask and it was the same question that caught him off-guard in his first interview. He, obviously, did get hired and now is the third CEO of Microsoft succeeding Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer.

Satya Nadella was always close to his mother. When she passed away in 2015, it was a very crucial time for him as it had just been 1 year of his tenure as a CEO and the time was definitely not easy for him emotionally. He always says that his mother was his pillar of strength and that he has learned a lot from her. The time after that was difficult but Satya had to make a comeback emotionally and this time it was stronger than ever.

Slowly and steadily, Satya Nadella with his passion, hard work and dedication started getting fame. Eventually, he became an important stakeholder in the firm and also owned some stocks which were worth millions of dollars. Satya Nadella has also been invited many times as the guest speaker for many events across the United States.

As of 2020, Satya Nadella net worth stands to be around $250 million. 

Working in such an auspicious position needs a whole amount of sheer talent, hard work and dedication to bring excellence in the craft. His brilliance can be detected from his educational background. Satya Nadella’s education played a great role in his successful professional career not leaving behind his hard work and dedication, of course.

How Microsoft Evolved under Satya Nadella’s Leadership? 

The journey to the top is never a piece of cake.

It was difficult for Satya Nadella as well as it would be for anybody. But, it was not impossible. Satya Nadella worked as a member of its technology staff prior to joining Microsoft in 1992. Some previous positions held by Nadella before being appointed as a CEO of Microsoft include Vice President of Business Division, Corporate Vice President of Business Solutions and Search & Advertising Platform Group and Executive Vice President of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise Group.

On 4 February 2014, he was announced as the new CEO of Microsoft, the third chief executive in the company’s history, following Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer. He served as a President in the Server & Tools Division from 9 February 2011 to February 2014. Satya Nadella was also a Senior Vice President of Research and Development for the Online Services Division from March 2007 to February 2011. 

Later he was made the president of Microsoft’s $19 Billion Server and Tools Business and led the transformation of the company’s business and technology culture from client services to cloud infrastructure and services. He has been credited for helping bring Microsoft’s database windows server and developer tools to its Azure Cloud. The revenue from cloud services grew to $203 billion when he took over in 2011.

Satya Nadella changed the company’s direction after becoming CEO and fine-tuned the path for the success of Microsoft. His tenure has emphasized openness to working with companies and technologies with which Microsoft also competes, including Apple Inc., Salesforce, IBM, and Dropbox. In contrast to previous Microsoft campaigns against the Linux Operating System, Nadella proclaimed that Microsoft joined the Linux Foundation as a platinum member.

He also revised its mission statement to ‘empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.’ 

Satya Nadella says that this is an enduring mission, rather than a temporary goal. The key goal has been transforming Microsoft’s corporate culture into one that values continuous improvement and growth. His leadership of Microsoft included a series of high profile acquisitions of other companies, to redirect Microsoft’s focus.

In October 2014, Nadella courted controversy when he made a statement that women should not ask for a raise and should trust the system. The statement was made while he was attending an event on Women in Computing in Phoenix, AZ. Satya Nadella was roundly criticized for the statement and he apologized later on Twitter. He later sent an email to the employees at Microsoft admitting that he was completely wrong.

Since he became the CEO, Microsoft’s stock price has surged by 150%. 

In February 2014, when Satya Nadella was appointed as the CEO of Microsoft, the company was losing exceptionally fast.

Microsoft Windows 8 has been a disaster. Microsoft’s employees were constantly behind the scenes for supremacy. And all that while, consumers, as well as developers, were losing the faith.

Then, time changed!

Now, in 2019, Microsoft has found its groove again as a company that provides software and services to everyone. There’s still a lot that Microsoft needs to do. But, take a look back at the life and career of Satya Nadella, the CEO who is making it happen.

The Game-Changing CEO of Microsoft

Satya Nadella has always been clear with his vision and targets. The software maker’s new official goal is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

His philosophy builds on a few other Microsoft marketing mantras he’s touted since taking charge in February 2014. For Instance, more personal computing is still very much alive. That’s Microsoft’s way of admitting that people use all sorts of devices connected together over the internet.

Microsoft’s executives, who are looking to the company’s fast-growing cloud services division to help all software, got really impressed by Nadella’s major play in the Mobile-first, Cloud-first world. After Microsoft released the Windows 10 operating system it went on to power more than 90% of the world’s PCs. 

The goal was to make Windows 10 the common thread among every device, product and service. In the revived mission statement he said, ‘We will be open to learning our own biases and changing our behaviours so we can tap into the collective power of everyone at Microsoft.’ 

Under the previous CEO Steve Ballmer, Microsoft failed to compete with Apple with portable music players and smartphones and also largely missed out on the shift to Internet Services like Search and File Storage, ceding ground to Google and other upstarts. But, the game changed in early 2014 when Microsoft bought on current CEO Satya Nadella and took a more disciplined approach.

As a good investment opportunity, Satya Nadella boosted Microsoft’s investment in Azure which powers web operations for big names like Airbnb and Reddit.

Azure helped Microsoft grow its overall cloud revenue by 80% to $6.4 billion in 2019. Microsoft continues to do more cloud services business and the profit percentage has grown significantly. 

Microsoft has also made a strategic push to move away from office software that comes in a box originally designed for PCs. It now also offers Office 365, a cloud version of Microsoft’s iconic services, which works across devices and charges a subscription fee. Satya Nadella has committed to Xbox and pledged to grow the gaming brand’s fan base. 

Vision for Microsoft

In these 7 years when Nadella was appointed as a CEO, Microsoft has lived, worked and developed around his ‘Mobile-first, Cloud-first strategy. But, during his keynote at Microsoft’s Build Developer Conference, in Seattle, Nadella said, ‘It’s no longer just mobile-first, the user experience itself is going to spam all your devices.’

When he introduced ‘Cloud-first-Mobile-first’ it was a major step away from Microsoft’s then struggling windows focus, which aimed to establish the company as a provider of cloud services.

The goal is to connect the data between the online portfolio of Microsoft’s products, which would make the exchange of data between LinkedIn, Office365 and Cortana. For example, easier and seamless.

How is Satya Nadella in Personal Life? 

Satya Nadella is an avid reader of American and Indian poetry. Even his profile on Microsoft’s official website lists reading poetry as one of his hobbies. His absolute love for reading and writing is pretty much evident by the fact that he also has published his own book called ‘Hit Refresh’ in the year 2017.

Satya Nadella is a huge fan of cricket and has also played in his school team. In an interview, he said that playing cricket taught him about teamwork and leadership and how he derives inspiration from the sport. His favourite form of the game is test cricket. He is also a huge fan of the Seahawks, a professional American Football team based in Seattle and has gone on record to say that he doesn’t miss any match of his favourite team.

When he took on the role of CEO of Microsoft, Bill Gates re-joined the company to become his personal mentor. Satya Nadella is a fitness enthusiast and is very passionate about running. But, does that mean he doesn’t cheat on his diet? 

Well, No! He has a sweet tooth and loves pastries.

Bottom Line 

There is no second thought about what Satya Nadella has achieved. It is pure brilliance and sheer excellence. 

To become the third CEO of a company to higher levels of success, Satya Nadella has come a long way. Every individual can only sustain with innovative thinking, whatever we have learned in the past is just history. What we are going to prove to the universe is to show our innovative thinking and solutions, that is what really matters.

The life story of Satya Nadella is extremely inspiring and there is a lot to learn from him. The journey to becoming a CEO of one of the biggest companies was never easy and will never be for anybody taking the legacy ahead but one thing is for sure that the traits like hard work, dedication, empathy that Satya Nadella has taught us will definitely mark a presence in every individual’s life.



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