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Microsoft’s new CEO – profile

The new Microsoft: How Satya Nadella will transform the company

Microsoft’s new CEO – profile

Image courtesy of [jscreationzs] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s former cloud head and its new CEO, learned a lot about leadership playing cricket in Hyderabad, India.

One incident has stuck with him his entire career, he told Indian daily newspaper the Deccan Chronicle last July. As member of his public school’s cricket team, he was bowling some “really ordinary stuff” when his captain decided to intervene. The captain took the ball and bowled a stellar over, delivering the team a much-needed breakthrough, then he tossed it back to Nadella.

“I will never forget that,” said the Microsoft executive.

The result of that lesson has manifested itself throughout Nadella’s lengthy tenure at Microsoft: When things aren’t going well — or even when they’re just ordinary — he knows it’s time to intervene.

But Microsoft is no cricket field; it’s a technology giant slowly lumbering into a cloudy, mobile world. Under Nadella, who Microsoft announced as its third-ever CEO this morning, Microsoft’s cloud and mobile initiatives will likely pick up some speed. As his first point of focus, Nadella has promised to “ruthlessly remove any obstacles” preventing innovation.

Outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer hasn’t ignored those areas. He kicked off the shift to cloud with Windows Azure and Office 365, and he’s invested in mobile efforts like Windows Phone and Surface. While neither effort has been executed perfectly — particularly in mobile, which comes off as a “me too” strategy — the biggest problem was Ballmer’s sluggish pace.

Microsoft’s modest gains in cloud and mobile haven’t supplanted declining PC sales and the shrinking value of licensed software. But there’s no returning to the Bill Gates era, when Windows and Internet Explorer were so pervasive they prompted antitrust lawsuits. The clear path forward is as a mobile-friendly, service-oriented company.

“[Nadella] strikes me as the kind of guy who could accelerate that strategic shift,” Forrester Research analyst Ted Schadler told VentureBeat. “He has a track record of making things happen in an organization where that’s hard to do.”

His success came from knocking down barriers between departments

After a quick stint at Sun Microsystems, Nadella joined Microsoft in 1992 as a program manager in the Windows developer relations group. He’s been at the company ever since, rising up the ranks to become president of Microsoft’s $19 billion server and tools business in 2011.

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