Success Stories: Indians Who Made it Big in America

Indians have made tremendous contributions to America in a variety of fields including technology, business and education. In fact, they have become such a prominent part of American society that Indian characters have started appearing in American films and comics (think of the Harold and Kumar film series made in 2004 onward and Raj Patel, a character introduced by Archie Comics in 2008). One reason why Indians have been so successful there is that America has provided a great platform for them to grow.

So, to encourage you as you move towards your goal of higher education in America, from time to time we will be posting stories on Indians who, like you, went to America for education and then became great successes. There are dozens of inspiring success stories to pick from. Our first one is on Vinod Khosla, co-founder and first CEO of SUN Microsystems, the company that, among other things created:

  • the Java programming language
  • the Network File System (NFS)

and also significantly evolved several key computing technologies, including

  • Unix
  • RISC Processors
  • Thin Client Computing and
  • Virtualized Computing

We hope that you will enjoy and be greatly motivated by the enormous achievements of those who went to America before you. (See next post for Vinod’s story).

Indians Who Made It Big in America: Vinod Khosla

 

An entrepreneur is someone who dares to dream the dreams and is foolish enough to try to make those dreams come true.”

~ from the website of khoslaventures

Education Track:

  • B. Tech (Electrical Engineering), IIT Delhi
  • Masters in Biomedical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University
  • MBA Stanford Graduate School of Business

Achievements:

  • Net worth 1.5 billion as of March 2013 (according to Forbes)
  • He has created 6 jobs for everyday that he has been in America
  • One of the founders of Indian School of Business

His Story For a superb read on Vinod Khosla’s life, philosophy and achievements click here

Vinod Khosla Quotes:

“My philosophy in life is I don’t mind failing in trying new things. But it better be relevant if we succeed. I don’t mind the low probability of success, but I better be impactful if we do succeed.”

“Our willingness to fail gives us the ability and opportunity to succeed where others may fear to tread.”

and here’s one from Michael Jordan, who is obviously a role model for Vinod Khosla

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Ratan Tata Part 3 – the Visionary: a Legacy of Sustained Growth

This is the third and final part of a three-part series on Ratan Tata. This part focuses on the dynamism, the independence and the integrity of the man who raised the Tata group to a position of international prominence.

Based on an article by Girish Kuber in the Sunday edition of Loksatta dated 23 Dec 2012

Translated by Runa Mookerjee

Series Editor DOAonline

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Ratan Tata was a mold breaker and a trend setter. An architect and structural engineer by training (he holds a B.S. in architecture and a Master’s in structural engineering, both from Cornell) Ratan Tata’s inclination for path-breaking thinking was evident even in his automotive ventures – the Tata Indica and the Nano. As an architecture student, Ratan Tata’s favorite subject was ‘Design;’ it was one that remained close to his heart throughout his career. Doodling new designs was a favorite pastime of his, and both the Indica and Nano were born out of his sketches. But this is just one small part of the story.

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Ratan Tata Part 2: Building Brand TATA!

Tata LogosThis is the second of a three-part series on Ratan Tata, fifth Chief Managing Director (CMD) of the Tata Group. This part focuses on the changes he brought in his tenure of over 20 years as CMD from 1991-2012, bringing the robust, independent companies that made up the 144-year old Tata Group, under a strong unified brand.

Based on an article by Girish Kuber in the Sunday edition of Loksatta dated 23 Dec 2012

Translated by Runa Mookerjee

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Tata Group’s product range spans commodities from table salt to automobiles. About 7% of the volume of shares traded daily on the volatile Indian market consists of those listed by the Tata Group’s diversified holdings. The group contributes 3% of India’s corporate tax and 5% of its excise duty. That’s twice the amount paid by any other Indian industrial house. Some won’t think much of these figures. Others will point out that there are business houses that are even bigger. But few of them command the strong brand recognition that the Tata Group does. So, how did the Tata Group become such an instantly (and even internationally) recognizable brand?

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How I Realized I Had to Do a PhD

 

For some people the realization that they are really meant to do a PhD comes only after having got some research-related work experience. In fact Dr. Harchol-Balter recommends it before jumping into a doctoral program. Here’s how her career path led her to the realization that she should be doing a PhD:

“After I finished my B.A. in CS and Math, I went to work at the Advanced Machine Intelligence Lab at GTE in Massachusetts. At first I was very excited by my paycheck and the great feeling of being independent. I also really enjoyed my area of research at the time: pattern recognition and classification. I was working with frame-of-reference transformations involving eigenvectors of autocorrelation matrices. It was exciting! However I quickly realized that I wanted to know more. I wanted to know why some algorithms produced good results and others didn’t. I wanted to come up with my own algorithms. I worried that I didn’t have enough of a mathematics background to answer my own questions. In summary, I wanted to delve deeper. Everyone around me thought I was odd for wanting these things. I left after 2 years and went to graduate school. That first month of graduate school I looked around and realized that everyone there was just as weird and obsessed as I was, and I knew I had made the right decision.”

Read Dr. Harchol-Balter’s own article on Applying to Ph.D. Programs in Computer Science from which this has been excerpted.

Read a review of Dr. Harchol-Balter’s article here.

Read excerpts from her article on recommendation letters and statements of purpose,

Ratan Tata: Part 1 –The Gentleman Industrialist

This is the first of a three-part series on Ratan Tata, who on 28th Ratan TataDecember 2012, stepped down from his position as fifth Chief Managing Director (CMD) of the 144-year old Tata Group. This article focuses on the surprising humility of Ratan Tata, one of India’s most eminent business personalities, a man who in his tenure of over 20 years as CMD (from 1991-2012) led the Tata Group to international prominence.

Based on a translation of an article by Girish Kuber in the Sunday edition of Loksatta dated 23 Dec 2012

 

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The employees at Bombay House, Tata Group’s corporate headquarters at Mumbai, will tell you that when Ratan Tata, head of India’s largest industrial conglomerate, enters the building to begin the day’s work… nothing extraordinary occurs!

There is no flurry of activity, no hushed tones. There is nothing to indicate that “the boss is on the way.” The only excitement is among a band of happy dogs who crowd around Ratan Tata’s car as soon as it enters the gate. This is not surprising because, when he steps down from the car, Ratan Tata habitually pets a few of the dogs, and indulges them a bit. The Tata’s have a long history of being dog lovers, so he gives no thought to ‘what will people say’ about this nor, will you ever find him making statements about “These Indian dogs…” etc.. And then, just like an ordinary employee, he joins the queue to enter the lift. There is no separate ‘reserved’ entrance for Ratan Tata.

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Should I Do a PhD?

PhD for Me?

That’s the big question facing some of you. There are also some other related ones: “Will I be able put in the intensive work that a PhD requires?” “Is it going to be worth it?” – and perhaps, most important of all: “What scope is there for me after I get my doctoral degree?”

In her article entitled ‘Applying to Ph.D. Programs in Computer Science’ Dr. Harchol-Balter (an associate professor of computer science at CMU who has been involved in the Ph.D. admissions process at CMU, U.C. Berkeley, and MIT) answers these questions in-depth and with a great deal of insight. What is more she does so in a clear, concise, straight forward manner that allows her to cover a lot of ground in one brief, easy-to-read document.

Though she writes with a focus on doctoral programs in Computer Science, students applying for almost any program can read it with profit. In fact all students whether they are applying to master’s or doctoral programs in an American university should read her comments on the ‘Application Process’. They give invaluable tips (especially for top-notch students) on the recommendation letter and the statement of purpose.

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