Sundar Pichai is the Chief Executive Officer of Alphabet Inc. and its subsidiary Google, an iconic American corporation worth around $1 trillion. Born in India, Pichai emigrated at a young age, and then used his natural gifts and strong work ethic to rise through the ranks of educational opportunities at both Stanford and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
He joined Google in 2004 and helped lead the development of Google Toolbar and then Google Chrome, which grew to become the world's most popular internet browser. Pichai was eventually made the CEO of Google in 2015, and then four years later was also named CEO of Alphabet Inc. Since then, he has reaped the benefits of his strong leadership, earning $100.5 million in his first year as chief executive of the company. Then in 2016, Pichai received about $200 million just in stock awards for hitting performance targets, making him one of the highest paid executives at a public company ever.
But before Pichai was ready to take the reins of such a massive company, he was an MBA student at prestigious Wharton, a school that is known for producing some of the most prominent global leaders in politics, tech, business, and media. After working as an engineer in Silicon Valley, Pichai arrived on the Pennsylvania campus in 2002. A fellow MBA recipient described Pichai as "soft-spoken, reflective, thoughtful [and] down-to-earth." Despite his gifts, he showed no signs of cockiness or ingratitude. Pichai graduated two years later as a Siebel Scholar, a distinction given to the top 5% of Wharton’s graduates.
As a Wharton grad, Pichai is quick to acknowledge the transformative power his alma mater has had on his professional success. "I can say with confidence that Google has benefited a great deal from the imprint of the Wharton community and network," the brilliant CEO explained. "More broadly, Penn is an important university for Google in terms of both recruiting and research, especially within the computer science department... It's a natural pairing. Google attracts those who are curious, analytical, and qualitative — the same attributes that Penn and Wharton help instill in students."
Unfortunately, Pichai's plans to return to his beloved alma mater for a public event in October were cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic. However, the executive did take part in a virtual commencement event called "Dear Class of 2020." The virtual ceremony was streamed on YouTube and included leaders and celebrities such as former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama. In his speech to the world-wide attendees, Pichai urged graduates not to lose patience or hope, the two virtues that helped him go from humble beginnings, to helming one of the largest corporations in the world.