Viewpoint / AI

Learnings from Leaders: Satya Nadella/Microsoft

Navin Chaddha Satya Nadella

In 2013, I had the honor of hosting a TIECON keynote conversation with Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. I was reminded of this chat as I get ready to host a conversation on May 2 with another great leader I admire, Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of NVIDIA. He is an amazing leader of one of the most significant companies of our time, a founder who discusses his 30-year journey with unshackled honesty, and as I have personally experienced, a consummate host. We plan to chat about what the world will look like in the future with GenAI, learnings from his journey, and our shared experience as immigrants.

Satya and I worked together at Microsoft in the late 1990s when it acquired my first company VXtreme, which pioneered video streaming over the Internet and grew into Windows Media. When I chatted with Satya in 2013, he was the President of the Server and Tools division that put Azure on the map.  Many themes from my conversation with Satya are still relevant today as he continues to lead the most valuable company in the world (market cap of over $3 trillion) and at the forefront of the GenAI era.

Keeping his eye on the prize: As we discussed trends such as consumerization of IT, the rise of clouds, and unleashing the power of data, Satya’s excitement was palpable and it was clear that he was watching where the puck goes.

Valuing community: His comments on how game and other developers are going beyond product to help with marketing and design illustrated his view on the power of individuals to influence trends.

Being founder friendly: His comments on how startups can align with Microsoft to benefit from distribution, how founders of acquired companies can bring their risk taking mindset to grow into leaders at Microsoft, and how Microsoft wanted to stay close to Silicon Valley presaged his partnership with Sam Altman, the legendary AI founder of our age.

Having clarity and humility as a leader: His comments on how once you stop learning you stop doing anything useful; how concept, capabilities and culture have to be in lock step for companies to thrive; and how when he complained about his first review, his boss told him how careers can be short-term inefficient and long-term efficient.

Bringing his whole self to work: His open discussion of how being a parent to special needs children has given him perspective and helped shape his attitude which is reflected in how everyone who interacts with him remarks on his empathy.

His final advice to founders was to take advantage of the cloud renaissance to Be Bold – a motto that is even more relevant today as founders soar to great heights in our Human Squared era of AI!

Watch the full video on YouTube.


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