We all have varying ability to react to tough situations and a finite strength to cross hurdles that come our way. But if we believe in our potential to sail through and find greener pastures the chances of achche din only get closer. It certainly is difficult to uphold optimism when life tells you otherwise but the trick is to stay afloat and keep swimming.
Today, 50-year-old Nikesh Arora lives life kingsize but there was a time when he was debt-ridden and would take up odd jobs to support himself. He did the right thing by constantly upping his skills and taking risks in life that others wouldn't and today he is known as one of the world’s most celebrated technology investors who draws a gigantic annual salary of Rs 857 crore ($128 million).
Days of bankruptcy
Born to an Air Force officer, Nikesh hails from Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh and studied in Kendriya Vidyalaya all over the country. He was a bright student and got into IIT, BHU to pursue a degree in electrical engineering. After finishing his bachelors, he briefly worked with Wipro but then decided to take an orbit leap and made up his mind to get an MBA from the United States.
Nikesh with former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.
At the age of 21, Nikesh took a loan of $3,000 from his father (Rs 2 lakh today) and went to US with two suitcases as his only possessions. The days were tough but he chose to sweat it out by taking any job that would help him sustain.
“I was technically bankrupt. After my first year at business school, I got married. So I had liabilities, with no earnings,” he told in an interview with The Financial Times.
Serving burgers and getting his first break
Alongside his higher studies, Nikesh could be seen working as a security guard outside the university dorms, taking notes for disabled people, teaching corporate finance to adult education students. For two days in a week he would serve burgers at Burger King to fund his studies. Every struggle fuelled a deeper desire in him to rise higher professionally.
Before finishing his degree in finance, he wrote to 450 companies looking for employment but nobody wanted him on-board. Finally, one day, he received positive response from a company. He joined Fidelity Investments in 1992 as a fund manager where he held top finance and technology management portfolios. Later he became the vice president of finance in Fidelity Technologies.
Nikesh then worked in telecom sector for some years before his life took a major turn when he joined Google in 2004. By 2011, he had become the search giant's chief business officer and Google's highest paid employee with a package of Rs 310 crore. He landed up being the fourth important person in Google, after its co-founders - Larry Page, Sergey Brin and chairman Eric Schmidt.
"I enjoy working in places which are very fast-moving and where things are changing. As my life takes on a steady pattern I do things to undo the pattern," he says.
He joined Japanese internet and telecommunications titan SoftBank in September 2014 at a whopping annual compensation of Rs 850 crore to take charge of its global operations. Last year, Nikesh joined cybersecurity firm Palo Alto against an annual salary of Rs 857 crore.
Nikesh Arora with Masayoshi Son of SoftBank
Quoting a report by Business Standard, Nikesh Arora is considered by his colleague and juniors as a team person and a cult-figure among Indian Googlers. But despite being a globe-trotter (Arora travels 100 days a year) Arora is an Indian at heart. His colleagues say that Indian culture still plays a very important part of his life. He eats Indian food at home (Arora carries his own bottle of hot sauce to add to his food in restaurants), his family speaks in Hindi and like all Indians he watches cricket matches, even if it is late in the night. He is a keen golfer and a fast thinker.
Nikesh inspires us to work hard and become so polished that the world queues up behind us for our talent and contribution. His hardwork and skills have made him the man he is today and his story will motivate us to become the best version of ourselves.
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