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Satya Nadella: Hyderabad to Seattle Via Manipal


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Feb 1, 2014, 07.02 AM IST

HYDERABAD/MANGALORE: Many in NGO circles in Hyderabad and Delhi still remember B N Yugandhar. He was Prime Minister's special secretary and known for his NGO leanings. Ultimately, this 1962 batch IAS offi cer landed in the Planning Commission as a member. On Friday, when TOI caught up with him outside his modest house in the swanky Sagar Society of Banjara Hills, he was just returning from his evening walk.

"I know why you have come, but can I talk to you after a few weeks? I can't be talking about him at this juncture," Yugandhar said leaning on his walking stick. Those who know the family say that Satya Nadella has inherited his father's genes. Satya is extremely hard working, thinks out of the box but is simple. "He may not be going around with a jhola like his father, but is a humble, soft-spoken guy," says a former classmate from the Hyderabad Public School from where Satya passed out in 1984.

Unlike most people who get carried away by career and success, Satya still keeps in touch with his school friends. Nadella had last come to Hyderabad for the 90th anniversary celebrations of HPS in 2013, and had shared fond memories of his cricketing days in the institution, his friends said.

"He's come to HPS whenever we have invited him to be part of all our celebrations including the alumni meet three years ago. Last year, he also brought in his Microsoft team to interact with the students of the school who were working on a Microsoft project," Faiz Khan, secretary of the HPS board of directors, said.

His classmate, M Chandrasekhar, former CEO of an IT firm in the city, said that as a boy Nadella was very helpful.

"He was very friendly and jovial. He was also a bright student. We studied together for about five years and there was not one single person who had issues with him in class," Chandrasekhar recalled. His classmates whom he visits and hangs out with when he's in the city, said it was an honour that their friend was assuming such an infl uential post in corporate America.

"The last time he was in HPS, he told us that Microsoft would come up with a better search engine than Google," Khan said. "He is a man who has never forgotten his roots. Perhaps that's what has lifted him to his present victory," Khan said. In the neighbourhood that Satya's parents live, nobody knows him but everybody knows papa Yugandhar. "We are aware that their son works for Microsoft in the United States but know nothing else," said one of the neighbours, a family member of another retired bureaucrat. On being told that Satya could be the numero uno at Microsoft, the neigbour's eyes popped out. A few neighbours said they felt proud after learning that someone 'so big' lived here. "We will keep our eyes open the next time he is here. After all, he has made all of us so proud," said Srinivas, a local youngster.

Friends from Manipal—where he did his engineering—have equally fond memories of him. "Satya was pretty much aware of where he wanted to be as far as his career was concerned even 23 years ago,'' said Ganesh Prasad, one of his batchmates at Manipal Institute of Technology. Prasad, who is the CEO of Mocha Merlot, recalled Satya being a very passionate, friendly and driven person.

When Prasad spoke to Nadella a few months back about his CEO prospects, he was understandably understated. "He (Satya ) said, 'it is too premature. Got a long way to go'," which showed that though he was confi dent, he was not taking anything for granted. Even today I don't think till the final announcement comes he will open the champagne bottle. He just is that kind of a person and that streak has been with him from the beginning,'' said Prasad.

Satya—registration number 8419218—was MIT's 1988 batch electronics and communication engineering graduate and today is the most discussed alumni after his name cropped as one of the frontrunners to succeed Steve Ballmer as Microsoft CEO.

He was the toast of the 1988 batch's silver alumni reunion in December last at Manipal.

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