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Analysis: The unprecedented rise of the Indian-American CEO in corporate America

After five decades of immigration to the US, an extraordinary number of Indians have reached the summit of influence in their professional fields— and the corporate world is no exception. In 2021, Indian-American CEOs collectively employed more than 3.6 million people worldwide and account for $1 trillion in revenue and $5 trillion in market capitalization.

Just in the last six months, four Indian Americans have been appointed CEOs of major companies, including Lal Karsanbhai at Emerson, C S Venkatakrishnan at Barclays, Sanjeev Lamba at Linde, and Parag Agrawal at Twitter who, at age of 37, is the youngest CEO amongst top 500 US publicly listed companies. Just the sheer breadth of industries that have Indian American CEOs today is a reflection of how broadly the leadership potential of the Indian American community is being recognized.

The Indian-American population has grown significantly in the past fifty years and is now known as the most affluent and educated ethnic group in the US. Historically, Indians in the US worked in medicine, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics-related jobs. Some, like the Patel community from Gujarat, took to the hotel industry and, over time, grew to dominate it. Others became entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley after the digital revolution of the 1980s.


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