- BBC News World
Twitter has a new CEO.
And with his appointment, Parag Agrawal has joined the dozen Indian-born tech experts who today spearhead Silicon Valley companies, some of the most influential in the world.
Satya Nadella of Microsoft, Sundar Pichai of Alphabet and the top bosses of IBM, Adobe, Palo Alto Networks, VMWare and Vimeo are all of Indian descent.
Citizens of Indian origin make up roughly the 1% of the population of Eunited states and 6% of the Silicon Valley workforce Yet they are disproportionately represented at the top.
“No other nation in the world ‘trains’ as many citizens like that, like gladiators, as India does,” says R. Gopalakrishnan, former CEO of Tata Sons and co-author of The Made in India Manager.
“From birth certificates to death certificates, from school admissions to getting a job, growing up in India prepares citizens to be natural managers,” he adds.
In other words, according to the expert, it is competition and chaos that make them “problem solvers with adaptability “ And, he adds, makes them often prioritize the professional over the personal.
This, he believes, is an advantage in the American culture of overwork.
“And they are the characteristics of the top leaders anywhere in the world,” says Gopalakrishnan.
Indian-born Silicon Valley CEOs are also part of a minority group of four million who is among the richest and most educated in America.
About a million of them are scientists and engineers.
More than 70% of visas US-issued H-1Bs (Alien Work Permits) are typically for engineers from software Indians, and 40% of all foreign-born engineers in cities like Seattle are from India.
“This is the result of a drastic change in US immigration policy in the 1960s,” write the authors of The Other One Percent: Indians in America.
In the wake of the civil rights movement, national origin quotas were replaced by those that gave preference to skills and family unification.
Soon after, highly educated Indians began arriving in the United States – scientists, engineers, and doctors at first, then overwhelmingly computer programmers. software).
This cohort of Indian immigrants “did not resemble any other group of immigrants from any other nation,” say the authors.
They were “selected in triplicate”: not only were they among the privileged, upper-caste Indians who could afford to go to a reputable university, but they also belonged to a small portion that could be funded for a master’s degree in America.
And finally, the visa system further limited quotas to those with specific skills, often in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, that meet the “high-level labor market needs“de EE.UU.
“This is the cream of the crop and they are joining companies where the best rise to the top,” says tech entrepreneur and academic Vivek Wadhwa.
“The networks they have built [en Silicon Valley] They have also given them an advantage: the idea was for them to help each other, “he adds.
Wadhwa emphasizes that many of the Indian-born CEOs have also worked their way into companies through effort.
And this, he believes, gives them a sense of humility that distinguishes them from many founding CEOs who have been accused of being arrogant and authoritarian.
The expert says men like Nadella and Pichai also bring a dose of caution, thoughtfulness and a “kinder” culture that makes them ideal candidates for top positions.
its “discreet and non-abrasive leadership” is a huge plus, says Saritha Rai, who covers the tech industry in India to Bloomberg News.
India’s diverse society, with so many customs and languages, “gives them [a los gerentes nacidos allí] the ability to navigate complex situations, particularly when it comes to growing organizations, “says Indian-American billionaire businessman Vinod Khosla, who co-founded Sun Microsystems.
“This, plus a ‘hard work’ ethic, sets them up well,” he adds.
There are also more obvious reasons.
The fact that so many Indians can speak English It makes it easy for them to integrate into the diverse US tech industry.
And the Indian education emphasis on mathematics and science has created an industry of software thriving, training graduates in the right skills, further reinforced in America’s best engineering or management schools.
“In other words, the success of Indian-born CEOs in America is based as much on what works well in America, or at least what used to be before immigration became more restricted after the September 11, as in what works well in India, “as he recently wrote in the magazine Foreign Policy the economist Rupa Subramanya.
However, experts doubt the future of this phenomenon.
With the large number of applications for permanent residence in the US (known as Green Cards) accumulating and the growing job opportunities in the Indian domestic market they have tempered the appeal of a career abroad.
“The American dream is being replaced by the dream of creating an India-based startup,” says Rai.
The recent appearance of the “unicorns” India, companies worth more than $ 1 billion, suggests that major tech companies are starting to emerge in the country.
But analysts say it is too early to predict what global impact they will have.
“India’s startup ecosystem is relatively young. Successful Indian role models in both entrepreneurship and the executive ranks have helped a lot, but role models are slow to spread,” says Khosla.
Yet the majority of role models remain male, as are nearly all Indian-born Silicon Valley CEOs.
And its rapid rise isn’t reason enough to expect more diversity from the industry, experts say.
“The representation of women [en la industria de la tecnología] does not approach Not at all to what should be“says Rai.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.