Viral post poignantly shares Satya Nadella's humble beginnings as an Excel 'product demonstrator' at Microsoft to now running the entire company

Satya Nadella Microsoft CEO
(Image credit: Microsoft | Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • A viral video of Microsoft's CEO, Satya Nadella making Microsoft Excel demo videos back in the day is doing rounds on social media.
  • In the minute-long video, the executive demonstrates how to integrate data that exists on a host or a mainframe into Microsoft Excel.
  • We unpack moments leading up to Satya Nadella's ascend to the top seat at Microsoft. 

We're a few hours shy until Thursday, and the Throwback Thursday trend (#TBT) is seemingly back in full swing. Talk about a blast from the past — a post on X recapping Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's humble beginnings at the company as a Technical Marketing Manager making Microsoft Excel demo videos has gone viral.

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In the minute-long video, Nadella demonstrates to users how to integrate data that exists on a host or a mainframe into Microsoft Excel. It's evident that at the time, Nadella hadn't garnered as much popularity as he does now, which begs the question, how did Satya Nadella navigate his way from making Microsoft Exxcel video demos to leading a Fortune 500 company?

Satya Nadella's climb to the top seat at Microsoft as an "internal stranger"

Satya Nadella

(Image credit: Daniel Rubino)

Microsoft's CEO, Satya Nadella, recently touched base with Insider's Mathias Dpfner and discussed AI, Activision Blizzard, and more. But what might have stood out (at least for most people) might be how Satya became CEO.

Satya explained that he'd worked at the company throughout Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer's tenure and blatantly stated, "I don't think I ever got up in the morning and thought that someday Microsoft would have neither Bill nor Steve. And quite frankly, when Steve announced that he would leave, it was a real shock to me." 

Shortly after making the announcement, one of the board members tasked with finding the company's next CEO reached out to Nadella and outrightly asked him if he wanted to be CEO. He responded, "Only if you want me to be the CEO."

And the rest, as they call it, is history. Of course, this is only the short version of the story. And while we aren't going to get into the intricate details of his ascend to the top seat, Satya's love for Cricket, empathy, and more. 

Has Satya Nadella made any mistakes during his tenure?

The executive has admitted that he has made many mistakes while running the company. While he didn't list them don't, he recounts pulling the plug on Windows Phone as his biggest mistake, terming it as a "strategic mistake".

Satya's biggest win at Microsoft

Microsoft's CEO refers to his leadership skills after taking up the lead position at the tech firm from the founder as his most remarkable win. According to Satya:

"We needed to run the company as a team of senior leaders who are accountable to the entire company. And even the senior leaders cannot be isolated, they need to be grounded. So we found a way to be able to work together. There used to be this characterization, this caricature of Microsoft as a bunch of silos – which I thought was unfair. We were able to debunk that by showing that we are one team working together, flexible in our own ways but very fixed on our outcome goals. And that, I think, was probably the most important thing."

Empathy is the "hardest skill to learn," yet so vital 

Satya Nadella talking about Windows

(Image credit: Future)

The company lead has mentioned the importance of having empathy as a skill when it comes to leadership. Raising his son, Zain Nadella, who suffered from asphyxia in utero, leaving him with cerebral palsy, and his unfortunate passing early last year completely reshaped Satya's outlook on life, as it is no easy undertaking. 

Satya believes that empathy is a vital skill at work, and it plays a more crucial role in career development.

Empathy is not a soft skill. In fact, it's the hardest skill we learn — to relate to the world, to relate to people that matter the most to us.

Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella

When will Satya Nadella retire?

Taking the lead at Microsoft for nearly ten years now, one might wonder when Satya is set to retire. Well. The answer isn't as simple as you Might think. While speaking in an interview earlier this year, the company disclosed that retirement plans weren't on his horizon as he's still in the middle of multiple projects that require his input. 

What will Satya Nadella be remembered for beyond his retirement?

Satya Nadella with Sam Altman at a conference

(Image credit: Bullfrag)

The CEO believes he'll be remembered for his contributions at Microsoft, particularly his AI ventures. He added that it's up to the people to decide and choose what to remember him for, further stating that the company has made significant strides in the technology space in the past few years, with AI transformation at the forefront.

Kevin Okemwa

Kevin Okemwa is a seasoned tech journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya with lots of experience covering the latest trends and developments in the industry. With a passion for innovation and a keen eye for detail, he has written for leading publications such as OnMSFT, MakeUseOf, and Windows Report, providing insightful analysis and breaking news on everything revolving around the Microsoft ecosystem. While AFK and not busy following the ever-emerging trends in tech, you can find him exploring the world or listening to music.