'There Was A Simplicity To My Life', Says Sundar Pichai About His Humble Origins Before Becoming Google CEO

International Business

Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who rose through the ranks in the world's biggest tech giant Google, says his life in Chennai was unique and filled with "simplicity".

Written By Digital Desk | Mumbai | Updated On:

Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who rose through the ranks in the world's biggest tech giant Google, says his life in Chennai was unique and filled with "simplicity". Recounting the memories of growing up in Chennai, Pichai said:

"There was a simplicity to my life, which was very nice compared with today’s world. We lived in a kind of modest house, shared with tenants. We would sleep on the living room floor. There was a drought when I was growing up, and we had anxiety. Even now, I can never sleep without a bottle of water beside my bed. Other houses had refrigerators, and then we finally got one. It was a big deal", the IIT-Kharagpur alumni said during an interview with a foreign publication.

Pichai did his bachelor in Metallurgical Engineering. He also holds an MS from Stanford University in Material Sciences and Engineering, and an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Pichai said he used to read a lot during his early days in Chennai.

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I had a lot of time to read. I was processing a lot. I read whatever I could get my hands on. I read Dickens. Friends, playing street cricket, reading books — that was kind of the totality of life. But you never felt lacking for anything.

Pichai said he traveled on a plane for the first time after he got admission in the prestigious Stanford University.

It was the first time I had ever been on a plane. I always wanted to be in the Valley. I kind of knew that’s where everything happened. I remember landing in California, and I stayed with a host family for about a week. I was in the car going from the airport, and was like, “Wow, it’s so brown here.” The family was like, “We like to call it golden.”

"When I was back at I.I.T., I had access to the computer so rarely — maybe I’d been on it three or four times. To come and just have these labs in which you had access to computers and you could program, it was a big deal to me. I was so wrapped up in that, that to some extent I didn’t understand there was a much bigger shift happening with the internet", he added. 

He said his approach to technology with the family is a bit "conflicted".

"When I come home on a Friday evening, I really do want to let go of my devices for a couple days. I haven’t quite succeeded in doing that. At home, our television is not easily accessible, so that there is “activation energy” before you can easily go watch TV. I’m genuinely conflicted, because I see what my kids learn from all this. My son is 11 years old, and he is mining Ethereum and earning money. He’s getting some insight into how the world works, how commerce works. Every generation is worried about the new technology, and feels like this time it’s different. Our parents worried about Elvis Presley’s influence on kids. So, I’m always asking the question, “Why would it be any different this time?” Having said that, I do realize the change that’s happening now is much faster than ever before. My son still doesn’t have a phone".

Read: Google Employees Leave Work To Protest Treatment Of Women

Under Sundar Pichai, Google has achieved new heights in the product, engineering and innovation. However, the technology behemoth has also been embroiled in some controversies, including sexual harassment allegations against some of its executives. Recently over 20,000 Google employees held a protest against the company for allegedly not doing enough to curb sexual harassment allegations. Though Google claims it has fired as many as 48 employees for sexual harassment, including 13 senior level executives, it allegedly gave a hero's farewell to top executives Andy Rubin, known as the father of Android. 

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