Hyderabad: At a time when most of the news out of the city is political and on bifurcation, Hyderabad boy Satya Nadella has given everyone here a reason for celebration. The city boy making it to the top job in Microsoft has meant the city is on 'cloud' nine and everyone sees several 'windows' of hope and opportunity opening up.
At a special assembly in Hyderabad Public School (HPS), where Satya spent six years between 1978 and 1984, his biology teacher is using some poetic licence to share his joy.
"Satya Nadella has risen to the top... am sure he will transform Microsoft into Mega-soft," he says.
While that may not amuse Bill Gates, his friends are confident, Satya will show spark that he himself may not be aware he has, to better even Steve Ballmer.
A proud teacher, Jayanand, recalls that Satya was low profile, among the brighter kids in school. "He was a little fellow, quite intelligent, a good student, not at all naughty, a different type of boy, more with books and studies. Very friendly with everybody, very close to teachers, sweet child."
Classmate Phani Krishna says no one could have imagined Satya would reach these heights.
"I always call him the man of inflection because he got into the cricket team unknowingly. He just threw the ball in the air one day and the school decided he would be a great spinner to have on the team. Next day, he was on the school cricket team. Same happened when he ran. He just decided to run one day and he was in the athletics team. I think the same happened with Microsoft today," he says.
Phani, who also worked with Microsoft till September last year before trying to chart new territory, says he is confident Satya's integrity, commitment and innovation, will take him places.
"Big bets are on for him. He has a lot of things in favour. He has changed the cloud strategy for India and for the world. He has really built the cloud platform which is the future. He has always been big on device play which Microsoft has taken as the next game-changer. The devices and services that he owns, he is on right track. The vision that I have experienced in the past in Microsoft, I have no doubt, he will rule and do one better than Steve Ballmer," says Phani.
Satya Nadella was in fact back at school in 2009 and in 2011 to give something to the institution where he had spent six years. Faiz Khan, one of the classmates of Satya and secretary of HPS Trust, says he gave the school something unique. "We have robotics in school, by Microsoft, courtesy him. He himself inaugurated it."
HPS is also where Satya met his future wife Anupama, with who he mentions he has spent 22 years and they have three children.
School principal Col R S Khatri points out that Satya neither went to IIT nor IIM, and yet made it to the top job. "There is a big lesson for parents in this. They need to trust their children and have faith in them, that if given opportunity, they will shine."
Aditya Reddy, grandson of former state chief minister Channa Reddy and also an active member on the Old Students Board, says HPS has always produced leaders. From chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy, to Union minister Pallam Raju, to Jagan Mohan Reddy and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi, all are from HPS.
"We are very proud and inspired. All our students are very excited. We will call him back ot school very soon," he says.
Satya's father and father-in-law were illustrious IAS officers Yugandhar and K R Venugopal, but have preferred to stay a dignified distance away from the limelight, even at this time of joy and celebration. Perhaps the hallmark of people who fly high and yet have their feet firmly on the ground.