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Satya Nadella is more like Bill Gates, says Microsoft India's Bhaskar Pramanik

Bhaskar Pramanik, chairman, Microsoft India, who has worked with the company's CEO thinks Satya Nadella is bold and willing to take risks.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Jul 16, 2015, 10.06 AM IST
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Bhaskar Pramanik (right), chairman, Microsoft India, who has worked with the company's CEO thinks Satya Nadella (left) is bold and willing to take risks. Also, Bill Gates (centre).
Bhaskar Pramanik (right), chairman, Microsoft India, who has worked with the company's CEO thinks Satya Nadella (left) is bold and willing to take risks. Also, Bill Gates (centre).
Microsoft India's chairman Bhaskar Pramanik prefers fellow techie Padmasree Warrior's definition of work-life balance to any other. He says that the former CTSO of Cisco believes, "There is nothing called work-life balance. There is only one life." Pramanik agrees wholeheartedly. "You live life the way you want it. Life is about choices," he says.

Warrior is not the only peer that Pramanik has picked up life lessons from. His CEOs, both current and former — Satya Nadella and Steve Ballmer — have helped him learn a lot too. In an interview with ETPanache, Pramanik addressed what distinguishes the two bosses and elaborated on Microsoft's initiatives towards bridging the gender gap in India.

On Satya Nadella's approach to competition

I've worked with Steve Ballmer and Satya Nadella during my four years at Microsoft. I respect both of them and have learnt a lot from each of them.

Satya is more like Bil l Gates. He under st a nds the power of technology and what the future can be. He is bold and willing to take risks. He has been coming out with innovations at a more rapid pace than we did in the previous regime. He is taking tough decisions.

For him, competition is not a zero sum game. Just because Android wins does not mean Microsoft loses. If Android wins, great. I'll also put Office 365 on Android. So it can be a winwin. It doesn't have to be a win-lose. Satya is clear that times have changed.

Therefore, cultures have to change. He talks about customer obsession, agility and learning.

Steve was business-oriented. He had a photographic memory. He could look at your profit and loss statement and remember it for the next 10 years. He knew exactly where to focus and which business areas needed to be improved upon. He was very good with business customers. I have gone with him to meet the Government of India officials from various different areas. He was very diplomatic. He spoke very well. He got along well with the government officials as well as the CEOs. So does Satya. But their approaches are different.

On equal pay for women

It is difficult for me to speak for the company globally. I can speak about us in India. There is a strong focus on diversity in India. But it is not just about gender. It is about gender, youth and people who are disabled. I think youth and gender is the highest priority for us here in India. Our organisation has to mirror our customers.

As far as women are concerned, we are constantly undertaking studies to find out if they are getting a share of the rewards. Are women getting promoted? Are there enough women in senior positions? We constantly keep improving upon that. So there is a huge difference from where we were, let's say three years ago to where we are today.

When I passed out from college 40 years ago, I had three women in my class of 300 at IIT. Today the ratios are much higher. When I go to a business school for hiring, I get 50 -60 per cent women and 40 per cent men because the classes are now 50 - 50. The environment has also clearly changed.

That said, there is an imbalance. Representation is not correct, whether it is youth or gender. We need to do a lot more to enable that to happen. I am happy with the progress that Microsoft is making. But we have considerable scope for growth.
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