Google CEO Sundar Pichai visited his alma mater, IIT Kharagpur, today on January 5 and talked to more than 3,000 IITians in the event. Pichai had passed out from the elite institute in 1993 with a BTech in metallurgical and materials engineering. Pichai addressed the students of one of the best engineering institutes in India talked about a range of subjects, about his time at IIT KGP, and then at Google and answered some questions by the students. Pichai talked about success, motivation and also about the importance of digitisation and the future of the tech market in the country. Pichai recollected his time at IIT- the mess food, how he met his girlfriend, who is now his wife and a lot of other things he used to do.
Talking about how he got selected at Google, Pichai said that his interview was on 1st April 2004, that is the April Fool’s day. Google had just launched the ‘GMAIL’ and at that time, it was an ‘invite-only’ application. Pichai said, he did not use the feature, till his 5th interview and it was only after that, he could answer such questions. When asked if Google founder Larry Page took his interview, Pichai said that it is a joke in his circles, that he got selected only because Page had stopped interviewing people. Pichai also talked about how he met Anjali Pichai, his wife, then at IIT. He said that it was an embarrassing experience, going to the girl’s hostel and asking for her. He also shared his experiences at IIT’s food mess, where he once called the mess coordinator as ‘abey saale’. Apart from such quirky experiences, Pichai also shared many tips for young engineers. Here are a few examples of what he said:
1. Always aim high enough. It is alright, even if you fail a few times.
2. Machine learning is the future of computing. Google has gone from being a mobile-first to an AI-first company.
3. Next in google: Advances of machine learning will change the tech landscape of the world including areas like health and others.
4. Studying at best institutes do not guarantee success.
5. Academics is very important but not everything. You need to take risks, try different things and eventually follow your passion.
6. Always value teamwork.
7. Indian students should think international. India is going to be a huge market, with already 300 million people using the internet today.
8. India will soon be a global power in technology and will be competitive with any other country in the world.
9. There is a lot of pressure in today’s education system. You need to take the time to do things. Understand things deeply. Setbacks don’t matter in the long run.
10. It’s possible to do things now in India, you don’t need to go abroad to succeed.
11. You should have the desire to build products and change the world, and it will change a lot in 10 years.
12. People around you might be better than you. That feeling is normal. But it is an important feeling to have. It means you work at a good place. Stay competitive.
After IIT Kharagpur, Pichai went on to pursue an MS in Engineering and Materials Science from Stanford University and an MBA from the Wharton School. Later on, he joined Google in 2004 as its vice president of product management, where he led the team working on Google’s Chrome browser and operating system, before being elevated as its CEO last year.