Tamilnadu is the home for one of humanity’s oldest living classical civilisations, where innovation has always been a tradition.
Here is a list of 5 exceptionally talented Non Resident Indians (NRIs) of Tamil origin who have underlined their contribution on the world stage and have brought laurels to India with their commitment and excellence.
1. C.K.Prahlad (Guru of Poverty and Profit)
Coimbatore Krishnarao Prahalad, popularly known as CK, is one among the world’s top 10 management gurus and was the distinguished professor of Corporate Strategy at University of Michigan. Born in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, his theories and trajectories affected many Indian and developing world retail outlets. It was Prahalad’s proposition that businesses stop thinking of the poor as victims and instead start seeing them as value-demanding consumers that drove companies such as Hindustan Lever and Godrej to come out with ultra-small sachets of everything from shampoo to gutka sparking off a retail revolution. Even Bill Gates was impressed, saying Prahlad’s ideas “offers an intriguing blueprint for how to fight poverty with profitability.”
He became established as a business guru when he helped Philips in reconstruction as it was on the verge of collapse. He was also a prominent writer until his death in 2010 and had authored many books like The Future of Competition (with Venkat Ramaswamy, 2004), and The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty through Profits. He was a member of the Blue Ribbon Commission of the United Nations on Private Sector and Development. He was also the first recipient of the Lal Bahadur Shastri Award for contributions to Management and Public Administration in India in 1999.
2. Indra Nooyi (The Most Powerful Woman CEO)
Ranked third most powerful businesswoman by Fortune in 2014, she is the Chairperson and CEO of PepsiCo, the second largest food and beverage business in the world by net revenue. This Chennai born girl has been included in the list of “World’s 100 Most Powerful Women” on a regular basis. In spite of this, Nooyi is still fighting to “have it all” and maintain work and personal life balance. As per Bussiness Week, the company’s annual revenues have risen 72 percent and net profit has doubled since she became CFO in 2000. She was also included in the Wall Street Journal’s list of 50 women to watch in 2007 and 2008.
Nooyi was born in India and received a BA in Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics from Madras Christian College and an MBA from Indian Institute of Management Calcutta before moving to the US to attend the Yale School of Management. After graduating from Yale, Nooyi joined the Boston Consulting Group, then worked in strategy at Motorola and power company Asea Brown Boveri. She joined PepsiCo in 1994 and became president and CFO in 2001 before being appointed CEO in 2006.
3. Dr. VA Shiva Ayyadurai (The Inventor of Email)
A world renowned systems scientist and computational systems biology expert, Dr. VA Shiva Ayyadurai, was born to a Tamil Family in Bombay. At the age of seven, he left with his family to live in the US. In 1978, aged 14, he developed a full-scale emulation of the interoffice mail system which he called “E-mail”. It replicated all the functions of the interoffice mail system: Inbox, Outbox, Folders, Memo, Attachments, Address Book, etc. These features are now familiar parts of every email system.
Studying at Livingston High School in New Jersey, Ayyadurai began his work on the email system for the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. On August 30, 1982, the US government officially recognized Ayyadurai as the inventor of email by awarding him the first US Copyright for Email for his 1978 invention.
4. Sundar Picahi (The Chrome Head of Google)
He is known as the second commandant at Google Inc., the world’s leading search engine provider. Chennai-born executive, Sundar Pichai, was selected in the last year, to head its key products such as Google search, Google maps, Google+, commerce, advertising and infrastructure. Pichai led the development of Chrome at a time when many felt that an extra browser wasn’t really needed. Today Chrome enjoys dominant share among browsers.
A renowned silver medalist from IIT Kharagpur, Pichai moved to Stanford for postgraduate studies in applied Materials which gave him a good opportunity to nurture his ideas in the fields of electronics and associated materials. He also has an MBA from the Wharton School, where he was named a Siebel Scholar and a Palmer Scholar. Pichai, who landed at Google in 2004, has risen rapidly through the ranks and is viewed by many industry insiders as potential CEO material.
5. Dr. K. R. Sridhar (The Holy Grail of Clean Energy)
Dr. K. R. Sridhar is the founder and CEO of Bloom energy, an innovative company producing electricity using solid oxide power cell, a new green energy source, which was initially invented by him for NASA’s Mars mission. Born in Tamilnadu, he was graduated in 1982 from Regional Engineering College, Tiruchirapalli. He did a masters degree in Nuclear Engineering and PhD in Mechanical Engineering in 1989 from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaigne. He was actually a professor in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, University of Arizona. Then he and the lab under his direction were asked to contribute to a NASA project.