PersonalitySuccess Story

Google CEO Sundar Pichai to class of 2020: You will prevail; be open, be impatient, be hopeful

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, everything is moving online including the on-ground graduation ceremonies. Google CEO Sundar Pichai addressed the graduating class of 2020 via a virtual event organised by Google’s video platform YouTube to give a farewell to these students.

Aside from Pichai, the ceremony saw participation from former US President Barack Obama, former First Lady Michelle Obama, Korean pop group BTS, singers Lady Gaga and Beyonce, South Korean band BTS, activist Malala Yousafzai, and more. Google CEO Sundar Pichai told the class of 2020, graduating amidst an ongoing pandemic that they will prevail along with these reasons:

* Pichai told the class of 2020 that they “will prevail”. He further added, “the reason I know you will prevail is because so many people have done it before you. 100 years ago, the class of 1920 graduated into the end of a pandemic; 50 years ago, the class of 1970 graduated in the midst of the Vietnam War; and nearly 20 years ago, the class of 2001 graduated just months before the 9/11. There are notable examples like this. They had to overcome new challenges and in all cases, they prevailed.”

* He said the “long arc of history tells us we have every reason to be hopeful. So, be hopeful.”

* “There is an interesting trend I have noticed. It’s very conventional for every generation to underestimate the potential of the following one. It’s because they don’t realise that the progress of one generation becomes the foundational premise for the next. And, it takes a new set of people to come along and realise all the possibilities,” Pichai told the students.

* Google CEO said, “I don’t think this is the graduation ceremony any of you imagined. At a time when you should be celebrating all the knowledge you’ve gained, you may be grieving what you’ve lost: the moves you planned, the jobs you earned, and the experiences you were looking forward to. In bleak moments like these, it can be difficult to find hope.”

* He suggested, “Be open, be impatient, be hopeful. If you can do that, history will remember the Class of 2020 not for what you lost, but for what you changed. You have the chance to change everything. I am optimistic you will.”

* “Don’t lose that impatience,” he told the class of 2020. “There are probably things about technology that frustrate you and make you impatient. It will create the next technology revolution and enable you to build things my generation could never dream of. You may be just as frustrated by my generation’s approach to climate change, or education. Be impatient. It will create the progress the world needs.”

* Pichai said, “You will make the world better in your own way, even though you don’t know exactly how. The important thing is to be open-minded so you can find what you love… So take the time to find the thing that excites you more than anything else in the world. Not the thing your parents want you to do. Or the thing that all your friends are doing. Or that society expects of you.”

During the address, Pichai also recalled his humble roots and highlighted the importance of staying hopeful in the face of difficulties. He recounted the challenges he faced when he left India for the US to pursue a course at Sanford University. He said:

* “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.”

* “The only thing that got me from here to there—other than luck—was a deep passion for technology and an open mind.”

* Pichai also said, “I grew up without much access to technology. We didn’t get our first telephone until 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.”

Sundar Pichai began his career as a materials engineer and joined Google as a management executive back in the year 2004. He rose to become the company’s Product Chief and the CEO in 2015. In December 2019, he additionally became the CEO of Google’s parent company Alphabet.


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