The Rise of the South Asian CEO | Top Asian CEOs in Fortune 500 Companies

Mar 17, 2021 9 min read
The Rise of the South Asian CEO | Top Asian CEOs in Fortune 500 Companies

The top ranking executive of a company is called as CEO (chief executive officer). They have so many responsibilities. It includes making important decisions of the company, management of all operations of the company, management of the resources of the company, etc. The public face of a company is CEO.

There is a common thread that connects the famous multi-billion dollar companies. The current CEOs of these companies are mostly from south Asian countries, mainly from India. South Asians secured the most number of C-level leadership positions in the tech industry. Many of these south Asians are born and raised in their home countries before moving to the Western countries.

CEO is acting as the major point of communication between the board directors of the company and corporate operations. Shareholders and board directors have the power to select the CEO of a company. According to the size of the company, corporate structure and culture, the role of CEO varies from one company to another company.

The CEOs from South Asian Countries
1. Sundar Pichai
2. Satya Nadella
3. Shantanu Narayen
4. George Kurian
5. Nikesh Arora
6. Rajeev Suri
7. Dr. Sara Saeed Khurram
8. Raj Fernando

The CEOs from South Asian Countries

The Indians are playing an important role in changing the way of technology works. The world's two largest technology companies are headed by Indian origin CEO's. We can add more names to the list. Being a leader in the most important companies in the world and playing an important role in growth are not an easy task.

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In large companies, CEOs generally manage only the highest level of strategic decisions, which affect the overall growth of the company. In small businesses, CEOs  are often involved in daily operations. If you think that some of the best CEO's  in the world are international, you will be surprised to hear so many names from India. They are given below.

1. Sundar Pichai

Sundar Pichai is the CEO of Google. He was born in Tamil Nadu, India on 10 June 1972. He took a degree in metallurgical engineering from IIT Kharagpur. After that, he moved to US. He completed his MS in material sciences and engineering from Stanford University and he attained his MBA from Wharton University.

Sundar Pichai

He was awarded the titles named “Siebel scholar and Palmer scholar" from there. On August 10, 2015, Sundar Pichai was selected as CEO of Google. He played an important role in the development and launch of the Google Chrome web browser. He was the product head for projects related to Google drive, Google map, and Android. That helped him to grow in his career.

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2. Satya Nadella

Satya Nadella is the CEO of Microsoft. He was born in Hyderabad, India on 12 August 1967. He selected as CEO of Microsoft on February 4, 2014. He took his degree in electronics and communication engineering from the Manipal institute of technology. He completed his master's degree in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

Satya Nadella

He attained his MBA from the University of Chicago. After that, he worked as a technology staff at a company named "Sun Microsystems". In 1992, he joined the Microsoft. Nadella headed in some major projects at Microsoft, which including cloud computing and developing one of the world's largest cloud cluster infrastructure.

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3. Shantanu Narayen

Shantanu Narayen is the CEO of Adobe systems. He was born in Hyderabad, India on 1963. He took his degree in electronics and communication engineering from University College of Engineering, Osmania University. After that he completed his MBA from Haas School of business, university of California.

Shantanu Narayen

He earned his master's degree in computer science from Bowling green state university, Ohio. His career started at Apple. After that, he worked in Silicon graphics. He co-founded a digital photo sharing company named "Pictra". In 1998, he joined the Adobe Systems. He promoted as CEO of the company, in 2007. Also, he got the Padma Shri award in 2019.

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4. George Kurian

George Kurian is the president and CEO of NetApp. It is a storage and data management company. He was born in Kerala, India. He completed his engineering from IIT Madras. He attained bachelors of Science degree in electrical engineering from Princeton University and earned MBA from Stanford University.

George Kurian

He started his career at Oracle in 1996. Later, he promoted as the senior vice president of Oracle's server technologies. Also he served as vice president of Application Networking and Switching Technology Group at Cisco Systems. In 2011, he joined the Netapp. He became the CEO of the company in June 2015.

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5. Nikesh Arora

Nikesh Arora is the CEO of Palo Alto Networks. He was born in Uttar Pradesh, India on 9 February 1968. He took a degree in Electrical engineering from IIT Varanasi. After that, he completed his MBA from Northeastern University. Also he earned a master's degree in finance from Boston College.

Nikesh Arora

He worked at Google. Also, he served as a president of a company named "SoftBank Group". He resigned from there on 21 June 2016. In June 2018, he joined the Palo Alto Networks. Presently, he serves as the chairman and CEO of the company.

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6. Rajeev Suri

Rajeev Suri is the ex-CEO of Nokia. He was born in New Delhi, India on 10 October 1967. He has Singapore citizenship. He completed his degree in Electronics and Communications Engineering from Manipal Institute of Technology, India. He served for multi-national companies in Nigeria and India. In 1995, he joined the Nokia. He played an important role in transformation of the company. He became the CEO of the company on 29 April 2014.

Rajeev Suri

7. Dr. Sara Saeed Khurram

Dr. Sara Saeed Khurram is CEO and co-founder of the company named "Sehat Kahani". The services of the company focus on health awareness, primary health care consultation, and health counselling. She was born in Karachi, Pakistan. She completed her MBBS in 2010 from DOW University of Health Sciences. Later, she earned a master's degree in Health Policy and Management from The Aga Khan University of Health Sciences. She is the first women in Pakistan to win the Rolex award.

Dr. Sara Saeed Khurram

8. Raj Fernando

Raj Fernando is the CEO and chairman of He is a Srilankan descent American businessman. He was born on 8 July 1971. He completed his bachelor’s degree in economics and history from Beloit College. He found a company named “chopper trading” in 2002 and he became CEO of the company.

Raj Fernando

Fernando's contributions helped the company to become one of the main participants on world’s largest global exchanges. But in 2015, he sold the company. He launched an internet startup named “” in 2016. Now he serves as the CEO of the company.

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These CEOs are not from the same background. It includes from poverty to the middle class. Most of them were born and raised in different places. They left the home countries to attain higher education in other countries, yet they all have the same instincts, values and traits. Anyway, climbing the ladder of success is not an easy task.


What ethnicity is south Asian?

South Asians are individuals whose ethnic roots originate from the Indian subcontinent, a large geographic area that includes India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bangladesh. Collectively, South Asians represent one-fifth of the global population.

When did Sundar Pichai became CEO of alphabet?

In December 2019 he also was named CEO of Alphabet, replacing Page, who stepped down.

Who is CEO of Microsoft company?

Satya Nadella is the Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft. Before being named CEO in February 2014, Nadella held leadership roles in both enterprise and consumer businesses across the company.

What does a CEO do?

A chief executive officer (CEO) is the highest-ranking executive in a company, whose primary responsibilities include making major corporate decisions, managing the overall operations and resources of a company, acting as the main point of communication between the board of directors (the board) and corporate.

What education do most CEOs have?

While a bachelor's and a graduate degree are common for top CEOs, there is no single major or graduate degree that they all share. Although business and computer science degrees are solidly represented, there are some less common inclusions.

Why do CEOs pay themselves $1?

This reduction in pay is typically symbolic, used by CEOs to broadcast an alignment of interests with shareholders during a rough patch. It's also hailed as an altruistic act — a sacrificial, praise-worthy gesture that other employees should emulate. Truth is, the $1 CEO salary often isn't as selfless as it seems.


The South Asian cultures encourage debate, communication, and argumentation. Also, the mainstream American culture encourages assertive communication too. According to a study by MIT, South Asians are more likely to achieve leadership roles in American organizations. The research focused on the three key aspects of prejudice, motivation, and assertiveness. The research proposed that the cultural differences around assertiveness and the willingness to engage in the debate may be strong contributing factors in what resonates with American company leadership expectations. This is a good trait that is seen in South Asian peoples. Because of this type of trait and culture, there is a high chance of people from Asia succeeding in leadership roles. We can expect more such leaders to take up leadership positions in big multi-national organizations.

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