Google CEO Sundar Pichai once said: "It is important to follow your dreams and heart. Do something that excites you." And it looks like Pichai did just that.
While he may be a household name now, known as someone who not just heads the Mountain View, California-based company, but also as the one behind its AI projects, his childhood, by his own admission, was quite simple and humble.
Speaking to the New York Times, the 46-year-old CEO remembered the time he lived in Chennai and said that there was "a simplicity to my life," which he says was a nice experience. "We lived in a kind of modest house, shared with tenants. We would sleep on the living room floor," he revealed.
Pichai went on to say that as a child he saw drought, which made them extremely anxious. Such was the impact, that he still doesn't sleep without a bottle of water next to his bed. He also recalled that when he was a child, the home did not have a refrigerator and when they finally got one, "it was a big deal."
However, he believes that their life was still amazing the way it was and it didn't feel like they were lacking anything. "But 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," he told NYT.
Pichai earned his degree from Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur and then went on to study MS at Stanford University. He also has an MBA from Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. When asked how it was attending Stanford, he said that it was the first time he was travelling in an airplane. "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.'"
Speaking of the course, he explained that students at the IIT then had rare access to the computer and he was thrilled with all the labs at Stanford. "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.
Apart from discussing his childhood and his life at Stanford, Pichai also spoke about the sexual harassment protest that Google employees participated in on November 1. He said that the company has learnt a lot from it and has been changing the way it functions.
"We're acknowledging and understanding we clearly got some things wrong. And we have been running the company very differently for a while now. But going through a process like that, you learn a lot," Pichai said, adding that Google has now put in place channels where employees can report their issues.