Amid the coronavirus pandemic causing the broadest collapse of the global economy, Google CEO Sundar Pichai had a special message for the graduating class of 2020: Be open, be impatient, be hopeful.
Complying with the social distancing norms to stem the spread of the deadly contagion, Mr Pichai addressed students worldwide from his “backyard” through a virtual graduation ceremony.
In his speech, the Google CEO recalled his humble roots, highlighting the importance of staying positive in the face of difficulties. He recounted the challenges he faced when he left India for the US to pursue a course at Stanford University.
“My father spent the equivalent of a year’s salary on my plane ticket to the US so I could attend Stanford. It was my first time ever on a plane…America was expensive. A phone call back home was more than $2 a minute, and a backpack cost the same as my dad’s monthly salary in India,” he recounted.
The event, which was streamed on YouTube, was attended by former US President Barack Obama and former US First Lady Michelle Obama, singer and actress Lady Gaga, singer Beyonce and South Korean band BTS, among others.
Mr Pichai also drew comparisons between how he had grown up without much access to technology, and children nowadays growing up with “computers of all shapes and sizes”.
“I grew up without much access to technology. We didn’t get our first telephone till I was ten. I didn’t have regular access to a computer until I came to America for graduate school. And, our television, when we finally got one, only had one channel,” said the chief executive officer of Alphabet, the parent company of Google.
Sundar Pichai, who grew up in Chennai, began his career as a materials engineer and joined Google as a management executive in 2004. He rose to become the company’s Product Chief and the CEO in 2015, as part of the restructuring process that turned Alphabet Inc. into Google’s parent company.
(With Inputs From PTI)