Google is celebrated for its rigorously data-focused management and hiring culture. But the secret of one of its most successful executives, Sundar Pichai, lies in good old-fashioned team building.
Currently a senior vice president at Google in charge of Chrome, Android, and apps, Pichai’s methods were discussed on a recent Quora thread, asking “What did Sundar Pichai do, that his peers didn’t do, that got him promoted up to the highest ranks at Google?”
Chris Beckmann, a former project manager at the company who’s now an entrepreneur in residence at VC firm Khosla Ventures, pointed to the fact that Pichai recruited, retained, and mentored what was considered one of the best teams of product managers at the entire company. This was of course in addition to his own talent and work ethic, internal political skill, and leadership of difficult and important projects like Chrome.
Beckmann didn’t personally work for Pichai, but many of his friends and colleagues did. Even among a group of incredibly talented executives and alumni, Pichai is notably successful. He joined Google in 2004, started out reporting to Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, was promoted above her, then aggressively but unsuccessfully recruited by Twitter to be its head of product in 2011, now reports directly to Larry Page.
A former colleague of Mayer and Pichai told Business Insider’s Nicholas Carlson that a key difference between the two was a willingness on Pichai’s part to focus on the good of the whole company, including the business side, and to sit down one-on-one with people to walk through strategy and get them on board.
There’s a tendency among managers at big companies to think on a very large scale about the decisions they make that affect every single person they lead. Pichai succeeded by avoiding some of that big think and focusing more on people management. Particularly for managers that want to rise in a company or move on to start their own business, investing in building a great team is absolutely essential. Even at a company as focused as Google is on finding great people, that takes individual commitment and skill.