Satya Nadella replaces John Thompson as Microsoft chairman

An irreplaceable asset for Microsoft

Diaspora

June 19, 2021

/ By / New Delhi

Satya Nadella replaces John Thompson as Microsoft chairman

Nadella is the only person after Bill Gates to act as both CEO and chairman of Microsoft since past two decades

Microsoft Corp has named Indian-origin Satya Nadella as its new chairman, in place of John Thompson. The decision comes on the back of Nadella’s contributions in scaling up the company’s business as CEO since 2014.

The Indian-origin CEO was unanimously elected as chairman of the Microsoft board making Nadella the only person after Bill Gates to act as both CEO and chairman of Microsoft since past two decades. Nadella has succeeded John Thompson, who will return to the role of lead independent director, a position he held before being named chairman in 2014.

Born and brought up in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, Nadella joined Microsoft in 1992 and was part of the team working on the development of Windows NT, a landmark operating system that was aimed primarily at business users.

While working there he steadily rose through the ranks and was named vice president of the Microsoft bCentral small-business service in 1999. He was soon elevated to senior vice president of research and development for Microsoft’s online services division. From 2011-2013 Nadella served as president of Microsoft’s server and tools business, a department which generated over USD 19 billion in revenue annually.

In February 2014, he became third person to hold the office of chief executive officer (CEO) of Microsoft in company’s 40 years of existence. Under his leadership, Microsoft has undergone a complete transformation. Not only has he played a significant role in making the company recover from failures in the mobile phone and internet search market, but has also revitalised the Office software by shifting it to cloud and other operating systems. In 2016, he also oversaw the purchase of the professional network LinkedIn for USD 26.2 billion.

He has also managed to make Microsoft the second most valuable public company in the world, as during his tenure the company’s stock prices increased over 600 pc since 2014. Apart from being the CEO and the chairman of the board, Nadella is also one of the largest individual shareholders of Microsoft with over 1.6 million shares of the company’s stock.

Besides being one of the most sought after business executives, Nadella has also authored the book, Hit Refresh: The Quest to Rediscover Microsoft’s Soul and Imagine a Better Future for Everyone along with Jill Tracey Nicholas and Greg Shaw in 2017. The book talks individual change, the transformation in Microsoft and also includes Nadella’s thoughts on technology and leading.

“At the core, Hit Refresh is about us humans and the unique quality we call empathy, which will become ever more valuable in a world where the torrent of technology will disrupt the status quo like never before,” said Nadella.

Controversies

While being one of the most successful executives, Nadella has been part of fair share of controversies as well. In 2014, he made unsavoury remarks about pay gaps between men and women at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference in Phoenix, Arizona. Even though he later retracted his statement and apologised, Nadella faced a major social media backlash at the time.

In the same year, Nadella also announced one of the largest layoffs in company’s history. Around 18,000 positions were eliminated, the majority of which involved Nokia devices and services business that Microsoft had recently bought.

However, during the span long and prosperous career Nadella has proven to be a precious asset for Microsoft. He had also acted as a pillar for the company during the catastrophic coronavirus pandemic. “The board credits Mr Nadella for his tremendous progress driving cultural change across the organisation, especially given the unprecedented impact of Covid-19 on our business and people,” said Microsoft in proxy statement.

Presently, Microsoft is investing heavily in artificial intelligence (AI), data management, and quantum computing which is why the company stocks remain at an all-time high and the company has been delivering profits even during the pandemic.

If Nadella manages to ensure that Microsoft continues to set the bar high enough, they will likely remain a dominant player, even as the technology and market opportunities continue to evolve.

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