Meet the Hyderabadi who may soon be named Microsoft CEO

Microsoft Corp is widely believed to be on course to name Hyderabad-born Indian American Satya Nadella, who currently heads the cloud and enterprise business of the Redmond-based company, as it new CEO. Reports also suggest that Bill Gates, the co-founder of software giant, is likely to resign from his current position of chairman to be replaced by lead independent director John Thompson.

Although Nadella was always in the race to take over after Steve Ballmer announced plans to step down last August, earlier former Nokia chief Stephen Elop was said to be a prime candidate to take the baton of the world’s-largest software company.

Elop was said to have become a likely option as Alan Mulally, currently chief of American automaker Ford, bowed out of the race saying he does not intend to move out of Ford before the end of 2014.

But now Nadella is seen as the person most likely to take over as the next chief executive. From a corporate perspective this would mean company insider elevated to lead the firm as against the company bringing an outsider to add some colour in strategy to the firm. However, his long association with the company would enable him to navigate through the culture of the firm more easily than a rank outsider.

So who really is this Satya Nadella?

Nadella, a 22-year company veteran, was promoted to handle the company's fast-expanding cloud or internet-based computing initiatives last July.

The Hyderabad-born executive studied at Hyderabad Public School in Begumpet locality and grabbed an electronics & communication degree from Manipal University before heading to the US for higher studies. He completed MS in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and then went on to have a MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Starting his career with Sun Microsystems, now a part of Oracle Corp, he joined Microsoft in 1992 and has stayed put with the company ever since. Over time he stepped up the ladder and at different points had leadership roles of the team running the company Microsoft Office suite and Bing search engine product.

In 2011, Nadella was promoted to run the company's server and tools unit and headed the business until July last year. This unit became cloud and enterprise division after Ballmer revamped Microsoft’s structure to turn focus on devices and services. He is currently serving as executive vice president of cloud and enterprise division of the software giant.

Under his leadership this unit has been doing well. The commercial cloud services business saw revenues more than double for the second quarter ended December 31, 2013 over the year-ago period. Microsoft follows a July-June financial calendar.

At 46 years, he is also the right age to champion the firm against niftier rivals in the tech space who have muscled in a business which was dominated by Microsoft till about a decade ago. The firm had lost its pizzazz as Google and Facebook came from nowhere to build strong positions in new areas of technology and now threaten to crush Microsoft in many areas.

But the techie may face an uphill task to manoeuvre the company at a time when investors are pushing for splitting the firm.

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)

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