8 Indian CEOs in Charge of Major Global Companies

Indian CEOs are at the helm of some huge companies, giving the country a remarkable amount of representation on the world stage.

8 Indian CEOs in Charge of Major Global Companies

Revathi Advaithi was the 'Global Indian of the Year'

In the ever-evolving global business landscape, Indian CEOs have emerged as trailblazers, leading some of the world’s most influential companies to new heights.

Their stories are not only a testament to their individual journeys but also to the incredible potential and contribution of the South Asian diaspora to the world of business. 

From humble beginnings to the zenith of corporate leadership, these Indian CEOs exemplify the values of determination, innovation, and an unwavering commitment to excellence.

Their rise to the top is more than a personal achievement; it represents a broader narrative of progress, diversity, and inclusion in the corporate world.

It underscores the pivotal role played by individuals of Indian descent in shaping the future of global business and the profound impact they have on the brands they lead.

Ajay Banga – World Bank Group

8 Indian CEOs in Charge of Major Global Companies

The World Bank, a global financial powerhouse, extends a helping hand to low and middle-income nations, offering them a lifeline in the form of loans and grants to fund essential capital projects. 

On June 2, 2023, Ajay Banga assumed his role as the CEO/President of the World Bank Group.

With his tenure set to span five years, Banga brings a wealth of experience and a track record of transformative leadership to the helm of this influential institution.

Previously, Banga held the reins as President and CEO of Mastercard, an international behemoth boasting a workforce of nearly 24,000 dedicated individuals.

Under his visionary leadership, Mastercard launched the Centre for Inclusive Growth.

Banga’s commitment to global economic progress didn’t stop there.

In 2021, he became an advisor to General Atlantic’s climate-focused fund, BeyondNetZero, underlining his dedication to addressing climate change.

The man isn’t just a leader within the corporate boardrooms; he’s also a champion of social impact.

As Co-Chair of the Partnership for Central America, Banga played a pivotal role in advancing economic opportunity across underserved populations in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

In recognition of his outstanding contributions to society and business, Ajay Banga has received a string of prestigious awards.

In 2012, he was honoured with the Foreign Policy Association Medal.

The President of India bestowed upon him the Padma Shri Award in 2016, celebrating his significant achievements.

He further distinguished himself by receiving the Ellis Island Medal of Honour and the Business Council for International Understanding’s Global Leadership Award in 2019.

In 2021, his excellence shone brightly as he was awarded the Distinguished Friends of Singapore Public Service Star, solidifying his status as a global leader with a lasting legacy.

Under his guidance, the World Bank is striving to make a profound and lasting impact on the world’s most pressing issues.

George Kurian – NetApp

8 Indian CEOs in Charge of Major Global Companies

George Kurian, the CEO of NetApp Inc., is a name synonymous with innovation and excellence in the world of technology.

Born in the vibrant state of Kerala, India, he shares his remarkable journey not only with the world of technology but also with his twin brother, Thomas Kurian, who is the CEO of Google Cloud.

Kurian’s early career is a testament to his resilience and determination.

During his college days, he took on a variety of roles, working as a valet, pizza chef, and bartender, all while pursuing his academic goals.

These experiences undoubtedly contributed to his strong work ethic and ability to handle diverse challenges.

Kurian’s career included pivotal roles at renowned organisations such as Akamai Technologies and McKinsey & Company.

At Oracle Corporation, he led Software Engineering and Product Management teams, gaining invaluable experience that would later prove instrumental in his career.

In 2011, George Kurian embarked on a new chapter when he joined NetApp as the Senior Vice President of its storage solutions group.

This marked the beginning of his transformative journey with the company. 

The pinnacle of his career at NetApp came in 2015 when George Kurian assumed the role of CEO.

Kurian’s tenure as CEO of NetApp has been marked by a relentless focus on execution and a passion for excellence.

His leadership has been instrumental in shaping the company’s product and solutions portfolio, ensuring that NetApp remains at the forefront of the tech industry.

One of Kurian’s noteworthy achievements is his role in the development of the Data ONTAP operating system, a critical component of NetApp’s technology stack. 

Beyond his contributions to NetApp, George Kurian is also recognised as an independent director on the Board of global health services company Cigna Corporation.

This further underscores his stature as a respected leader in the corporate world.

As the CEO of NetApp and a member of its Board of Directors, George Kurian continues to steer the company towards new horizons.

Nikesh Arora – Palo Alto Networks

8 Indian CEOs in Charge of Major Global Companies

Born on February 9, 1968, in Uttar Pradesh, India, Nikesh Arora’s career spans decades.

With a track record of transformative leadership, Arora’s journey is a testament to his unwavering commitment to innovation.

In June 2018, Nikesh Arora assumed the role of Chairman and CEO at Palo Alto Networks, a cybersecurity giant at the forefront of safeguarding digital spaces.

His appointment marked a new era for the company, as Arora brought his wealth of experience and visionary leadership to the helm.

Prior to joining Palo Alto Networks, Arora’s career boasted a series of remarkable milestones.

He served as President and Chief Operating Officer of SoftBank Group Corp., where his strategic acumen played a pivotal role in the company’s growth and expansion.

However, Arora’s journey to the top began long before his time at SoftBank.

He spent a decade at Google, where he held a variety of key positions.

His roles included Senior Vice President and Chief Business Officer, and President of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

Arora’s tenure at Google was marked by strategic thinking, contributing significantly to the company’s global dominance.

Before joining the tech giant, he served as the Chief Marketing Officer for the T-Mobile International Division of Deutsche Telekom AG.

His entrepreneurial spirit also led him to found T-Motion PLC, a venture that ultimately merged with T-Mobile International in 2002.

His previous board memberships include SoftBank Group Corp., Sprint Corp., Colgate-Palmolive Inc., and Yahoo! Japan, showcasing his diverse portfolio.

In summary, Nikesh Arora’s journey from his roots in India to becoming the Chairman and CEO of Palo Alto Networks is a story of vision and dedication.

His remarkable career trajectory, marked by key leadership roles in tech giants and beyond, underscores his status as a transformative leader. 

Vasant Narasimhan – Novartis

8 Indian CEOs in Charge of Major Global Companies

In the realm of global healthcare, few names resonate as strongly as Vas Narasimhan’s.

Since assuming the role of CEO at Novartis in 2018, he has reshaped the landscape of healthcare.

Leading a company with a workforce exceeding 105,000 associates, Novartis conducts business in over 140 countries, touching the lives of millions worldwide.

In 2022 alone, their medicines reached an astounding 743 million patients.

Narasimhan’s vision for Novartis is crystal clear – to create a fully focused company that delivers high-value medicines, addressing society’s most pressing diseases.

One of his defining achievements has been the strategic repositioning of Novartis, narrowing the company’s focus on key therapeutic areas and technology platforms.

This strategic shift aims at delivering breakthrough treatments for patients grappling with cardiovascular disease, cancer, and rare yet debilitating genetic disorders.

His dedication to the betterment of healthcare is palpable when he shares:

“I never lose my sense of wonder at how human ingenuity is leading to longer, healthier lives.”

“At Novartis, we are reimagining medicine by using innovative science and technology to address some of society’s most challenging and long-standing healthcare issues.

“We discover and develop breakthrough treatments and find new ways to deliver them to as many people as possible.”

Even during and after his medical studies, he worked tirelessly on public health issues, including HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis, across India, Africa, and South America.

His goal of improving global health remains a driving force.

This is evidenced by Novartis’ commitment to expanding access to innovative medicines in low and middle-income countries by at least 200% by 2025.

Beyond his professional achievements, he is a lifelong vegetarian, deeply passionate about environmental and wildlife conservation.

Laxman Narasimhan – Starbucks

8 Indian CEOs in Charge of Major Global Companies

With a rich background that includes influential roles at industry giants like PepsiCo, Laxman Narasimhan has solidified his position as a veteran in the consumer goods sector.

His success lies not only in his ability to lead but also in his talent for inspiring teams to achieve ambitious goals.

Before his role at Starbucks, Narasimhan served as the CEO of Reckitt, a multinational powerhouse in consumer health, hygiene, and nutrition.

Narasimhan’s leadership at Reckitt proved even more remarkable as he steered the company through the tumultuous COVID-19 pandemic.

Prior to his transformative role at Reckitt, Laxman Narasimhan held various executive positions at PepsiCo.

Notably, he served as the Global Chief Commercial Officer, responsible for the company’s long-term growth strategy and commercial capabilities.

He also served as CEO of PepsiCo’s Latin America, Europe, and Sub-Saharan Africa operations, overseeing food and beverage businesses across over 100 countries. 

Laxman Narasimhan’s global experience extends beyond the corporate realm.

He speaks six languages and has worked across the private, public, and social sectors.

Beyond his impressive career, Narasimhan’s personal side shines through.

His preferred Starbucks beverage, a doppio espresso macchiato with hot skim milk on the side, reveals his penchant for the finer things in life.

In conclusion, Laxman Narasimhan’s journey is a testament to his unwavering commitment to improving industries, fostering innovation, and driving positive change in the global consumer goods sector.

His leadership is a source of inspiration, and his dedication to purpose-driven brands and sustainability serves as a model for leaders worldwide.

Vimal Kapur – Honeywell

8 Indian CEOs in Charge of Major Global Companies

Few Indian CEOs shine as brightly as Vimal Kapur, the CEO of Honeywell.

His journey is one defined by an unyielding commitment to innovation and an unwavering focus on nurturing a global team of over 100,000 dedicated “Futureshapers.”

At the helm of Honeywell, Kapur’s vision extends far beyond the boardroom.

It’s a vision that encapsulates enhancing innovation, driving optimal operational efficiencies, and aligning the company’s portfolio with global megatrends.

It’s a vision that resonates across more than 80 countries where Honeywell’s influence is felt daily.

But Kapur’s role as CEO is only part of the story.

He’s a leader with a multifaceted career trajectory within Honeywell, a company he has come to know intimately over the years. 

His journey through Honeywell also saw him excel in various leadership roles such as his notable stint as President and CEO of Honeywell Building Technologies (HBT) from 2018 to 2021.

Prior to these roles, he served as President of Honeywell Process Solutions (HPS), further cementing his legacy as a seasoned leader within the Honeywell family.

However, Kapur’s rise through the ranks was not without its origins in hard work and dedication.

Kapur’s journey began back in 1989 when he joined a Honeywell Joint Venture. Over the years, he steadily climbed the corporate ladder and reached the pinnacle of his career.

Kapur’s educational background is equally impressive.

He graduated from the Thapar Institute of Engineering in Patiala, India, holding a degree in electronics engineering with a specialisation in instrumentation.

His educational foundation has undoubtedly contributed to his analytical thinking and problem-solving skills, which have been pivotal in his leadership roles.

What sets Kapur apart is not just his career milestones but also his profound connection to Honeywell’s global workforce, aptly referred to as “Futureshapers.”

It’s this bond that fuels his drive to innovate, adapt, and lead Honeywell into an ever-evolving future.

Over the span of his more than three-decade journey at Honeywell, Vimal Kapur has cultivated a deep understanding of the unique needs of its customers and end markets.

His leadership is a beacon of innovation and growth.

Revathi Advaithi – Flex

8 Indian CEOs in Charge of Major Global Companies

Revathi Advaithi’s journey to the pinnacle of corporate leadership is nothing short of inspiring.

She began her career as a shop floor supervisor at Eaton in Shawnee, Oklahoma, marking the humble origins of a remarkable leader.

In 2002, Advaithi’s journey led her to Honeywell, where she spent six years immersed in various roles spanning manufacturing and supply chain.

Her experience at Honeywell laid the foundation for her future leadership roles, providing her with invaluable insights into the intricacies of these critical areas.

In 2008, Advaithi returned to Eaton, embarking on a decade-long journey that saw her take on increasingly significant roles within the electrical business unit.

In recognition of her remarkable leadership, she assumed the role of Eaton’s Chief Operating Officer.

However, Advaithi’s ambitions didn’t stop there.

In February 2019, she took on the role of CEO at Flex, a global manufacturing powerhouse.

Her mission was clear: to drive the next era of technology, manufacturing, and supply chain.

Under her vision, Flex shifted its focus to end-to-end customer value chain ownership, expanding beyond its core contract manufacturing business.

A defining aspect of Advaithi’s leadership style is her unique blend of empathy and decisiveness.

She believes in making swift decisions while always considering what is best for her colleagues.

Her business philosophy places a strong emphasis on sustainability, culture, diversity, inclusion, and ethics. 

The COVID-19 pandemic presented one of the most challenging times in Advaithi’s career.

Under her guidance, Flex took proactive measures to ensure the safety of its Chinese workforce and accelerated medical gear production.

Advaithi recognises that the pandemic has forced global businesses to reevaluate their supply chain structures.

Therefore, she has been at the forefront of discussions on building more efficient supply chains, sharing her insights at prestigious events like Fortune Brainstorm Tech.

Advaithi’s commitment to sustainable manufacturing is unwavering.

Under her leadership, Flex achieved recognition on CDP’s ‘A list’ for its efforts in tackling water security and pledged to cut company carbon emissions in half by 2030.

In July 2022, Flex, under her guidance, announced its commitment to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.

Her accomplishments have earned her a place on Fortune’s Most Powerful Women list for multiple consecutive years.

In recognition of her exceptional achievements, Revathi Advaithi was the ‘Global Indian of the Year’ at the ETPrime Women Leadership Awards 2023.

Ravi Kumar S – Cognizant

8 Indian CEOs in Charge of Major Global Companies

At the helm of Cognizant, Ravi Kumar S assumes a role that goes beyond traditional leadership.

As CEO, he not only sets the strategic course for the company but also champions Cognizant’s client-first culture.

A seasoned industry veteran, Ravi Kumar brings a wealth of experience encompassing digital transformation, data analytics, cloud solutions, and consulting.

His multifaceted expertise positions him as a dynamic leader capable of navigating the complexities of the modern tech-driven world.

Before his tenure at Cognizant, Ravi Kumar served as President of Infosys from 2016 to 2022.

In this influential role, he led the global services organisation across all industry segments and also held the position of Chairman of the Board of Infosys BPM Ltd.

His journey at Infosys was characterized by remarkable achievements, including spearheading the Insurance, Healthcare, and Cards and Payments unit.

What sets him apart is the diversity of his experiences.

He began his career as a nuclear scientist at the prestigious Bhabha Atomic Research Center of India, showcasing his depth of knowledge that extends beyond the technology sector.

He is a member of the Board of Directors of TransUnion and has also served on the Board of Directors for Digimarc Corporation.

His commitment to advancing knowledge is seen through his positions on the Board of Governors of the New York Academy of Sciences and his role on the Board of Directors for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Educationally, Ravi Kumar holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Shivaji University and an M.B.A. from the esteemed Xavier Institute of Management in India.

His academic foundation combined with his illustrious career highlights his commitment to excellence and continuous learning.

These Indian CEOs have achieved remarkable success through hard work, innovation, and a relentless pursuit of excellence.

Their journeys inspire not only those in the South Asian diaspora but also aspiring business leaders worldwide.

But it’s essential to recognise that their achievements didn’t happen in isolation.

They stand on the shoulders of countless mentors, colleagues, and family members who supported their dreams and ambitions.

Their stories highlight the contributions of individuals from different backgrounds to the global business landscape.

Likewise, we now see more Indian CEOs gracing different global companies.

Amrapali Gan was the CEO of OnlyFans, before stepping down in July 2023. 

Microsoft, Google and Wayfair also have Indian CEOs leading from the front. 

In conclusion, the Indian CEOs mentioned above are not just leaders of multinational corporations; they are pioneers, visionaries, and role models. 

Balraj is a spirited Creative Writing MA graduate. He loves open discussions and his passions are fitness, music, fashion, and poetry. One of his favourite quotes is “One day or day one. You decide.”

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