Microsoft announced it has finally sorted through a world of candidates and chosen one of its own to lead the company out of the woods and into the cloud. There is a lot of talk about what choosing from within will mean for Microsoft’s future – Satya Nadella has worked at the company for 22 years – and how the struggles of the Surface, the acquisition of Nokia, the rise of Android, and the dominance of the iPad mean that Nadella will have his work cut out for him.
But I’m just going to go out on a limb and suggest that, today at least, Nadella, is feeling pretty good about his decision to study electrical engineering and computer science. As career moments go, getting the bump from Executive Vice President of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise group to CEO of the “worldwide leader in software, services, and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential “ -- a company with 100,932 employees worldwide -- has got to be a good day.
It’s not like you can know, when you decide to take one job over another or choose a particular major or school over another where it till lead. I mean, I’m sure every coder has looked in the mirror and dreamed that one day one of the world’s most famous geeks (Bill Gates) will stand up and say of him publicly announce that “There is no better person to lead Microsoft …” But, hey, that was Satya Nadella’s day today. Pretty sweet.
Especially since he’s a guy who likens coding to poetry and quotes (okay, misquotes but still) Oscar Wilde. “To paraphrase a quote from Oscar Wilde,” Said Nadella in an email to Microsoft employees on his first day as CEO “We need to believe in the impossible and remove the improbable. (The actual Wilde quote is “Man can believe the impossible, but can never believe the improbable.” The meaning of the quote is more cynical than Nadella’s own sentiments but, to paraphrase a recent episode of Downton Abbey, not everyone can be Oscar Wilde.)
I wish the man well. I think the Redmond Behemoth needs someone who reads poetry and understands that (as he said in the same email), “We sometimes underestimate what we each can do to make things happen and overestimate what others need to do to move us forward.” (Does anyone else hear echoes of JFK in that sentiment?)
It’s not like there is a chart for where the world – or its individuals – is going. In the years I’ve been covering high-tech, I’ve watched more than one leader and quite a few companies go from megastar to quiet obscurity – and the other way around. If I have learned one thing, it’s this: Never say never. The future is sure to surprise you.
Nadella isn’t pinning the future down much more than that, either. “I believe over the next decade,” he says. “Computing will become even more ubiquitous and intelligence will become ambient. The coevolution of software and new hardware form factors will intermediate and digitize — many of the things we do and experience in business, life and our world. This will be made possible by an ever-growing network of connected devices, incredible computing capacity from the cloud, insights from big data, and intelligence from machine learning.“
But whatever happens in the future, one thing is sure: Today is a good day for one guy who decided to work in IT.