The recent appointment of an India-born Twitter CEO has made a lot of folks reignite the debate about why there are more Indians in the US tech industry. Parag Agarwal was elevated as the new Twitter boss after Jack Dorsey stepped down on 29th November. Agarwal joined a celebrated list of Indian CEOs working in big American tech firms like Sundar Pichai (Google), Satya Nadella (Microsoft), Arvind Krishna (IBM), Shantanu Narayen (Adobe), and Raghu Raghuram (VMWare).
The new Twitter CEO started working for the social media giant in 2011 and became CTO in 2017. He went to the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) in Mumbai and Stanford University before receiving an MBA from the Ivy League University of Pennsylvania.
Many US professionals have praised Indians as hard-working and loyal. While debating, they highlighted certain factors which they think could have elevated Indians to dominate Silicon Valley. According to a study in 2012 by Vivek Wadhwa, 15% of the Valley was already filled with Indian start-ups. Now, Indians have outnumbered other nationalities of immigrants combined, including England, China, Japan, and Taiwan.
Therefore, many have debated about how Indian entrepreneurs have made a big name for themselves in the US tech firms. This debate is not new and has been going on ever since Satya Nadella became Microsoft’s CEO in 2014.
Twitter CEO Belongs to the Country with Most Educated Migrants
Immigrants are in a position where they have to be obedient so they are more controllable. Unlike Americans, they don’t mind working long hours and working on holidays. Especially, H1B Visa holders cannot risk losing their job because if the visa gets canceled over any issue, they and their families will get deported back home. Americans on the other hand have many options to lean on so they can jump ship more quickly than immigrants. They don’t have to worry about getting kicked out of the US and usually keep their expectations high in workplaces. So, the big companies prefer to invest in someone who can be much easier than Americans. Indian immigrants offer much more in comparatively fewer incentives than US citizens. However, from where they come from, their salaries are still equal to a fortune. At the end of the day, the company is mostly concerned with its cost and return of investment. So, by hiring Indian CEOs they are getting more out from paying less. Moreover, according to the latest available stats, which are from 2015/2016, Indians have been the most highly educated immigrants in the OECD nations than all other nationalities.
Some also see this fact differently and point out how these educated Indians could not find suitable positions in India. Or perhaps, their home country and its business environment were not fully equipped to treat them like they wanted. However, it doesn’t mean Parag became Twitter CEO for exactly these reasons. Despite the ongoing debate, there are still several other factors involved like merit, talent, and skills, on which a company hires a professional.
Path Set by Successful Indian Leaders
Vivek Wadhwa argued that Indian entrepreneurs always had a strong support network in the US. When Indians started to build their presence in the Valley 30 years ago, the first successful generations worked devotedly to help others that come from India. They formed an ecosystem of successful Indian entrepreneurs and angel investors to accelerate the growth of Indian newcomers. Wadhwa described it as a “conscious effort” by several success business leaders, who helped break the stereotype that said Indians can be engineers but not managers. They realized how every Indian immigrant faced the same challenges as they did, so they guided them on the correct path. They shared their experiences and helped reduce barriers to entry for many other talented individuals from India. New Twitter CEO not only had the support of this Indian ecosystem of business already present in the US but he was also an eligible candidate for ex-CEO Jack Dorsey, as he mentioned in his farewell tweet.
According to another research by St. Gallen University in Switzerland in 2014, Indian executives may have earned success in the American tech industry because of positive cultural management qualities. The study found out that Indians were more inclined towards participative management and building meaningful relationships with their subordinates. The traditional leadership style employed in India fosters an emotional bond between common and superior employees. Indian managers are likely to treat their employees as if they have a normal life beyond the workplace. They exhibited qualities like dreaming, empathy, patience, and humility, which contributed in their achievement.
Availability of Foreign Talent