Google's Sundar Pichai on How India Can Produce More Tech Leaders Like Him

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Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai on Thursday said the Indian education system, which nurtured him, needs to allow students to take risks, and to fail, if it wants to produce more global technology leaders.
Mr. Pichai also reiterated his message that Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc., is bullish on growth in India, “an amazingly young, vast country,” he told students packed into a gymnasium on the campus of Delhi University.
On Wednesday, Mr. Pichai outlined at a conference for software developers more of the Mountain View, Calif., company’s plans to boost Internet access in India as it looks to the fast-growing country for future growth.
The 43-year-old, who was raised in the southern Indian city of Chennai and attended the elite Indian Institute of Technology before moving to the U.S., said he has been struck by how much India’s startup sector has grown over the past few years and also by the enthusiasm of its entrepreneurs.
There is a “unique opportunity” to build new tech companies in the country because of its huge scale, he said.
Asked how India might improve its educational system to create more executives like him, Mr. Pichai, who joined Google in 2004 and took the top job in August, said “It is important to teach students to take risks.”
In Silicon Valley, for example, “failing is a badge of honor,” because entrepreneurs want to show that they are trying new and daring things, he said.
Asked when he bought his first cell phone, Mr. Pichai reckoned that he had done so in 1995 or 1996. He purchased his first smartphone in 2006, he said, and added that because he is always testing out mobile devices he probably has some 20 or 30 smartphones at home — a revelation that drew gasps and cheers from the assembled students.
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