There is a recent trend in corporate America of instating Indian-born chief executive officers (CEOs) as of 2016. In the majority of cases, Indian managers have worked their way up the corporate ladder into the top position, as opposed to being the company founder. A study from New Hampshire University concluded that Indian managers possess strong leadership capabilities. It found Indian managers to be future-oriented and have a well-balanced mix of personal humility and strong professional will.
These four CEOs are leading the way for Indian-born senior executives running U.S. companies.
Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) is one of the better known examples of a company that is headed by an Indian-born CEO. Satya Nadella took the reins at Microsoft in February 2014, replacing Steve Ballmer. Nadella joined the company in 1992 and has held positions that saw him oversee Microsoft’s Cloud OS service. Nadella holds a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Since Nadella’s appointment as CEO, the company’s full-year revenue has increased from $86.8 billion in 2014 to $93.6 billion in 2015.
Indian-born Sundar Pichai is CEO of technology heavyweight Google Inc., a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc. Class C (NASDAQ: GOOG). Pichai was elevated to the role in October 2015 when Alphabet was formed. He commenced working for Google in 2004, in project management that saw his team play a major role in delivering major software products such as Google Chrome and Chrome OS. His academic qualifications include a Master of Science in engineering and materials science as well as an MBA. Alphabet’s first quarter 2016 revenue was $20.3 billion, down from $21.3 billion in the fourth quarter of 2015, when Pichai was appointed CEO of Google Inc.
MasterCard Inc. (NYSE: MA) is another prominent company that has hired an Indian CEO. Ajay Banga stepped into the role in July 2010, replacing Robert Selander. Banga began his career at Nestle. In February 2015, President Barack Obama appointed Banga to serve as a member of the president’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiation. Banga's academic credentials include a Bachelor of Arts in economics and an MBA. MasterCard’s full-year revenue increased from $6.7 billion in 2011 to $9.7 billion in 2015, suggesting Banga has made significant inroads in his tenure at the company.
Indira Nooyi is the Indian-born CEO of PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP). Nooyi has held the company’s top position since October 2006. She believes a key strength is an ability to look at the world from a different perspective due to her Indian background. Nooyi has previously held positions with health care conglomerate Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ). She holds a Bachelor of Science degree and an MBA. During Nooyi’s nine years at the company, PepsiCo’s net profit has increased from $2.7 billion to $6.5 billion.
The following three funds are heavily weighted with companies managed by Indian-born CEOs.
Fidelity Select Software and IT Services Portfolio
The Fidelity Select Software and IT Services Portfolio (“FSCSX”) was launched in 1985. The fund invests the majority of its assets in companies typically involved in research, design, production and distribution of software and information-based products and services. The fund has $3.4 billion in net assets and an expense ratio of 0.76%. A $2,500 minimum investment is required. Alphabet has a prominent weighting at 18.24% that includes both its class A and C stock. Microsoft also has a key holding at 10.46% of the fund’s total portfolio. As of June 1, 2016, the fund had returned an impressive 16.45% over five years and 17.07% over three years. It has a year-to-date (YTD) return of 3.54%. This fund gives heavy exposure to companies led by Nadella and Pichai.
Fidelity Select IT Services Portfolio
The Fidelity Select IT Services Portfolio (“FBSOX”) invests a minimum 80% of assets in companies primarily involved in providing information technology services. The fund invests in both domestic and foreign stocks. Stock selection is undertaken using various forms of fundamental analysis. It has a minimum investment requirement of $2,500. The fund has $2.1 billion in net assets with an expense ratio of 0.80%, almost mirroring the category average of 0.79%. It has a heavy 9.62% allocation of MasterCard in its portfolio. The fund was formed in 1998. It had a YTD return of 3.93% as of June 1, 2016. The fund has five- and three-year annualized returns of 16.88% and 17.13%, respectively. It provides investors with ample exposure of Banga’s management prowess.
Rydex Basic Consumer Products Fund
The Rydex Basic Consumer Products Fund (“RYPDX”) is classified as class A. The fund was created in 2004 by Rydex Funds and has $459.4 million in net assets. It invests the majority of its assets in domestic stocks of consumer product companies. The fund also invests through the use of derivatives. It has an expense ratio of 1.60% and requires a minimum investment of $2,500. One of the fund’s key allocations is PepsiCo, accounting for 4.40% of its total portfolio. The company has a five-year return of 12.76% and three-year return of 11.98%. As of June 1, 2016, it had returned 6.9% YTD. This fund exposes investors to Nooyi’s leadership excellence.