Climbing to the top of the corporate ladder is not easy for Asian Americans. Research shows that this segment of the population has often been overlooked for leadership and leadership positions, although that may soon change thanks to the growing list of high profile successes.
Some of the biggest companies are run – or have been run – by Asian Americans, and many have done a remarkable job of increasing revenue, profitability and shareholder value. In this article, we identify Asian American CEOs who sit or have sat at the helm of the world’s biggest companies and have done such a good job of capitalizing on opportunity and creating positive change that they are now considered Wall Street legends.
Key points to remember
- Three of the world’s 10 largest companies are run by Asian Americans.
- These legendary CEOs were all born in Asian countries and moved to America as immigrants before becoming citizens.
CEO of Google and Alphabet
Sundar Pichai is perhaps the most recognizable Asian-American CEO, as he oversees one of the most high-profile companies in the world: Google. Pichai, born in India, was hired by Google in 2004 to lead the development of its toolbar and its now famous Internet browser, Chrome. He excelled, rose through the ranks and 11 years later was named CEO. Since taking over the reins of the search engine company, its share price has more than quadrupled in value.
Malaysian-born Hock Tan is adored by Wall Street. He transformed Broadcom, the company of which he became CEO in 2006, into a computer chip giant through a series of well-executed acquisitions, his ability to extract value from niche product lines, his demanding personality and his obsession with cutting costs.
CEO of Advanced Micro Devices
Lisa Su took over as CEO of Advanced Micro Devices in 2014 when it was on the verge of bankruptcy. Under Taiwan-born Su, things changed quickly. She has made the company focus on what it is good at; tackled the computer games, cloud and data center market; undervalued assets that weren’t up to snuff; regularized the balance sheet; and transformed the chipmaker into a market leader.
Eric Yuan is the man behind Zoom, the video conferencing giant that’s been on the rise since the COVID-19 pandemic hit and people were forced to stay home. The idea came to him while taking 10-hour train trips around his native China to visit his future wife, and it ultimately made him a billionaire, at least on paper. Yuan overcame many hurdles to take his company public and in 2020 was ranked top CEO by Comparably.
CEO of NVIDIA
Jensen Huang went from being the graveyard crew at Denny’s to building a company that makes as much money in a day as his former employer makes in a year. In 1993, Huang, originally from Taiwan, founded NVIDIA, a maker of PC graphics cards. Today, with Huang still at the helm, NVIDIA ranks among the largest US and global companies with a market capitalization of approximately $500 billion.
Satya Nadella became CEO of Microsoft in 2014, 22 years after first joining the company. During his tenure as chief, he made the IT giant relevant and innovative, moving it away from a failing mobile strategy towards cloud computing and augmented reality. India-born Nadella’s accomplishments and popular managerial approach have made him influential among his peers, who have named him the “most underrated” CEO for six consecutive years.
When Shantanu Narayen took over as CEO of Adobe in 2007, the company behind PDFs and Photoshop was faltering and becoming obsolete. Narayen, born in India, was a quick game-changer. Under his leadership, the company’s software has moved from desktop to cloud, and its market capitalization has grown from around $24 billion to around $193 billion in 2022.
Former CEO of PepsiCo
Indra Nooyi became the first woman and immigrant to lead a Fortune 500 company when she was named CEO of PepsiCo in 2006. In the 12 years since, she has easily justified PepsiCo’s decision to offer her the position on higher. India-born Nooyi was the driving force behind the company’s drive to improve its health and has left the food and beverage maker far better positioned to survive and thrive in the future. His 2021 autobiography, My whole life: work, family and our futurebecame a New York Times bestseller.
Former CEO of Mastercard
India-born Ajay Banga took over the reins of Mastercard in 2010 when it had just gone public and was being pursued by new disruptors such as Square. He responded by launching a series of innovations which, coupled with increased consumer spending, caused incomes to triple during his tenure.
CEO of Micron
Sanjay Mehrotra has a track record of long term success. Since taking over as CEO of Micron in 2017, he has grown revenue, cleaned up the balance sheet and generated enough excess cash to buy back shares and begin paying a quarterly dividend. Before that, India-born Mehrotra won plaudits for transforming SanDisk, the flash memory company he founded in 1988, into a Fortune 500 industry leader and engineering his multi-billion dollar sale to the manufacturer. of Western Digital Corp hard drives.
How many CEOs are Asian American?
Forty Asian Americans sat at the top of S&P 500 and Fortune 500 companies in 2021.
Which Asian American CEO is the highest paid?
In 2020, the highest paid Asian American CEO was Eric Wu, the man behind real estate startup Opendoor.
How many Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants?
A lot, apparently. According to a 2019 report by the New American Economy, nearly 45% of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children.
The CEOs mentioned above are legendary because they lead, or have led, some of the biggest and best-known companies in the world and have passed the test with flying colors. As leaders, each of them has contributed to revolutionizing the companies they are responsible for leading and has made these investors who believed in them from the outset a real fortune.