In the realm of Indian executives at Google, the spotlight has traditionally been on Sundar Pichai, the IIT graduate who currently serves as the CEO of Alphabet, Google’s parent company. Pichai is often lauded as the highest-paid Indian employee, commanding a staggering compensation of $226 million in 2022, with an estimated net worth of Rs 10,215 crore. However, in a surprising turn of events, it appears that a lesser-known figure has overtaken Pichai in terms of wealth within the Google ecosystem – Thomas Kurian, an IIT dropout who now holds the reins as the CEO of Google Cloud.
As of 2022, Sundar Pichai’s financial prowess has placed him at the helm of a $1.17 trillion company, with a compensation package that turns heads. Nevertheless, the unassuming Thomas Kurian, a native of Kerala and the identical twin brother of George Kurian, the CEO of NetApp since 2015, has quietly amassed a reported net worth exceeding Rs 15,000 crore. Kurian’s journey from an IIT dropout to the helm of Google Cloud marks him as one of the most successful Indian executives globally, challenging the conventional narrative surrounding educational pedigrees.
Both Thomas and George Kurian commenced their academic journey in Bengaluru’s St Joseph’s Boys High School before securing coveted spots at IIT Madras. However, the brothers made a pivotal decision to relocate to the United States after gaining admission to Princeton University. This move laid the foundation for their distinguished careers in the corporate world.
Thomas Kurian kickstarted his professional journey after completing his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and obtaining an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. His initial foray into the professional landscape led him to McKinsey and Company, where he contributed his skills for six years. Following this, Kurian made a significant move to Oracle, a tech giant, where he spent an impressive 22 years holding various positions.
At Oracle, Kurian’s tenure was marked by leading a colossal team of 35,000 individuals spread across 32 countries. His multifaceted role showcased his prowess in navigating the intricate landscape of a global tech corporation. However, despite his long-standing commitment, Kurian decided to part ways with Oracle in 2018. Reports suggest that differences with Larry Ellison, the company’s co-founder, prompted Kurian’s departure.
Thomas Kurian’s subsequent journey led him to Google, where he assumed the role of CEO. His impact on Google Cloud has been widely acknowledged, with Kurian credited for revitalizing the subsidiary. Implementing strategic shifts and a renewed focus on customer service, Kurian steered Google Cloud towards a trajectory of success. A notable move was the elevation of salaries for Google Cloud salespersons, a decision aimed at boosting motivation within the workforce.
The transition from Oracle to Google marked a significant chapter in Kurian’s career, showcasing his ability to adapt and bring about transformative changes within the tech industry. His leadership style, characterized by strategic vision and a commitment to employee welfare, has played a pivotal role in reshaping Google Cloud’s narrative.
In retrospect, Sundar Pichai’s commendable achievements as an IIT graduate and the CEO of Alphabet continue to be celebrated. However, the rise of Thomas Kurian, an IIT dropout, to become the wealthiest Indian executive within Google’s sphere serves as a testament to the unpredictable nature of success. As the landscape of corporate leadership evolves, individuals like Kurian challenge conventional norms and redefine the narrative, proving that success is not confined to a predetermined path.