NetApp CEO Kurian: Buying SolidFire was a long-term strategic bet
Interview Chief executives of multi-billion dollar corporations have to have several characteristics, including steel, the ability to see things as they are, and possession of a personal value system that meshes with their corporation’s culture. Some CEOs, when promoted to the top chair after long employment in a corporation, sometimes lack the ability to see things without corporate lens bias. #NetApp CEO George Kurian gained his seat at the top table through an internal promotion after the previous internally-promoted incumbent was found wanting. Does he have these abilities, particularly the ability to take the hard decisions? El Reg talked to him at NetApp’s HQ in Sunnyvale to get a closer look at the man tasked with resurrecting the company’s growth. Questions and answers have been lightly edited for brevity and flow. El Reg What did it feel like as a 17-year old coming into Princeton and President Reagan’s America from India? George Kurian The world’s gotten a lot smaller since when I came. I think at the time that I came it was quite a cultural shift between the US and India. I think for example, I’d never seen an ATM, a bank teller machine before, I’d never seen a computer before, so those were new experiences. You found that in the United States there was an astonishing gap between rich and poor. We learnt that quickly when we went to New York for the first time in the mid-eighties. El Reg And then you did your best to cross it. George Kurian That’s right. It was astonishing to see the gap between rich and poor in the US, but you also realised that one of the things that has been an extraordinary part of the American story; the ability to, you know, move yourself up if you are willing to commit to doing the hard work, and if you get a few lucky breaks.