Visiting college after 23years!

Cover Story

Think of a situation where you passed your college and are recruited in an International company as a vice president and then with your hard work you prove yourself and become so important to the organisation you are appointed as the CEO holding the world’s top salary bracket earning $50 million per annum i.e. Rs 335 crore in Indian currency.

Now you may be thinking that you have heard this somewhere, in NEWS? On the Internet? OH! Whose story is it you may wonder now!!


Yes, you got that right!


Suraj Panchai, the CEO of GOOGLE, an India living in U.S working with the most reputed company in the world Studied at the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur joined Google as its vice president of product management in 2004 and eventually worked his way up to be Page's right-hand man. He was also approached by Twitter to potentially lead Product at the social network. But being satisfied with his work at Google he denied.


Recently, the alumnus came India to visit his college and interact with the students. It was indeed an overwhelming situation for Panchai when the Tagore open air theatre at IIT Kharagpur was packed to its full capacity as 3500 IITians turned up to listen to him, when he said “The last time I was here, I was leaving for the railway station to catch my train. It was a sad journey leaving the institute in 1993. I have not been back since,’’. For once he was taken back to all those memories of his college days years back when he was studying here, like the students listening to him.


Sharing some of the incidents from his college life 23 years ago, He said, “When I first came to Kharagpur, I didn’t know any Hindi as I had just arrived from Chennai. But over the weeks I picked up a spattering of the language, confident enough to go to the mess and order food. So I went and called out to the server – ‘Abey Saaley’ – I didn’t know what it meant, but assumed that it was a common greeting because that’s how everyone around me would greet each other. The mess guys were so angry that they shut down the mess for a while,’’.

He was nostalgic remember his days while seeing the development he said, “I come to India every year. The rate at which things are progressing in the country, at least digitally, is phenomenal. Growing up we didn’t have access to computers. The first computer I ever saw was here, on the IIT campus. And now there are 300 million smart phone users in the country. I just went to Nehru Hall before coming here however, and that looks just the same – I guess something will never change.”

Talking about his company’s goals Panchai said, “We want to be able to reach out to India’s rural population and do better there. Giving access to people to the internet is important. So we are looking at cheaper smart phones as well – priced at no more than $30. I have heard that Kharagpur station is now connected by WiFi – this is fantastic. All I remember about the station is being made to carry our seniors’ luggage across the platform – and it is a very long platform”.

After what he had to say, he was fired by questions by the students who were eagerly and patiently to him. Some of the very random questions which were asked are: “What was your GPA at IIT?” “Who is your favourite Bollywood actress”, ‘Do you still get calls from your college friends?”, ‘Who was your favourite professor at IIT”, “How do I get a job at Google” and “How much power do you have as the Google CEO? Can you put up the IIT Kharagpur Logo as the Google Logo for a day?” and one student even asked “How can I replace you at Google?” To which a laughing Pichai answered, “Be careful what you wish for. But you can always meet me for a cup of chai and we can discuss it.’’


This is how the well-known CEO of Google interacted with students of IIT Kharagpur, the college he used to study in once.

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