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Satya Nadella, '97, takes helm of Microsoft

February 07, 2014

Microsoft Corp. announced Feb. 4 that Satya Nadella, ’97, was promoted to CEO, effective immediately.

Nadella, a Chicago Booth graduate who recently returned to the University of Chicago campus to discuss the future of technology, will lead the world’s largest software company, where he has spent the last 22 years. Microsoft last year reported annual net revenue of $77.3 billion; Nadella will oversee a global workforce of more than 100,000 employees.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates praised Nadella’s global vision for technological development in announcing the appointment.

“Satya is a proven leader with hard-core engineering skills, business vision, and the ability to bring people together,” Gates said in a news release.

Originally from Hyderabad, India, the 46-year-old Nadella said as a young person he “always wanted to build things.”

“How I think has been shaped by my life’s experience,” the executive said in a video interview posted by Microsoft on the morning of the announcement.

“The one thing that I would say defines me is that I love to learn. I get excited about new things, I buy more books than I read or finish,” he said.

Previously the leader of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise group, Nadella has overseen computing platforms, developer tools, and cloud services, leading Microsoft’s responses to many trends sweeping the technology industry.

“This is the first time I see four major trends evolving simultaneously: mobile, cloud, big data, and social media,” Nadella told Booth students last November, during a fireside chat with Chicago Booth dean Sunil Kumar, the George Pratt Shultz Professor of Operations Management.

Nadella took time to offer Booth students some career advice when he visited last fall. He said his UChicago education taught him to manage his division’s future performance as well as its current results. Nadella also confessed that as a Booth student, he initially thought he might want to be an investment banker, but that it wasn’t a match for his passions. He encouraged students to find their “superpower,” embrace hard work, and ask themselves where they can apply their strengths to produce the greatest impact.

“Play the long game,” he said.—Dianna Douglas