India born executive only the second person after Bill Gates to hold both posts.
In a vote of confidence in its Indian American chief executive Satya Nadella, world’s largest software maker Microsoft has given him more power naming him as chairman too.
Born in Hyderabad, Telangana, Nadella, 53, will be the first person in two decades to hold both posts. Co-founder Bill Gates, who stepped down as CEO in 2000 was the only other person to do so.
Nadella, 53, succeeds John Thompson, 72. who will return to the role of lead independent director, a position he held before being named chairman in 2014, Microsoft said Wednesday in a statement.
In his new role as chairman, Nadella will lead the work to set the agenda for the board, leveraging his deep understanding of the business to elevate the right strategic opportunities and identify key risks and mitigation approaches for the board’s review, it said.
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Nadella, who has steered Microsoft for the last seven years has been instrumental in its recovery from failures in the mobile phone and internet search market and regaining influence of its flagship Windows operating system.
Nadella has refocused the company around cloud computing — developing one of the largest cloud infrastructures in the world – mobile applications and artificial intelligence.
The company’s shares have soared more than sevenfold and its market value is approaching $2 trillion as Microsoft has been restored to the ranks of the top technology companies.
Graduating in electrical engineering from the Manipal Institute of Technology in Karnataka in 1988, Nadella earned an MS in computer science at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee in 1990. Later, he received an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business in 1996.
Nadella worked at Sun Microsystems as a member of its technology staff before joining Microsoft in 1992. He worked as the senior vice-president of Research and Development (R&D) for the Online Services Division and vice-president of the Microsoft Business Division.
Later, he was made the president of Microsoft’s $19 billion Server and Tools Business and led a transformation of the company’s business and technology culture from client services to cloud infrastructure and services.
As lead independent director, Thompson will retain significant authority including providing input on behalf of the independent directors on board agendas, calling meetings of the independent directors, setting agendas for executive sessions, and leading performance evaluations of the CEO, Microsoft said.
Thompson, a technology executive for several decades, took over from Bill Gates when he stepped down as chairman of the company in 2014 after making Nadella the CEO. Gates left the Microsoft board entirely last year to pursue his philanthropic ambitions.