(October 18, 2023) “I’ve always thrived on building and scaling products that combine deep foundational technology and intuitive user experience to solve customer problems — whether it is Search that instantly finds relevant information, Assistant that you can talk to, or Google Lens that lets you search what you see,” wrote Indian-American tech veteran Aparna Chennapragada on her LinkedIn as she graciously accepted the new position of Corporate Vice President at Microsoft. She recently stepped down as chief product officer of stock trading app Robinhood.
Indian Americans are increasingly making significant strides in various prominent companies, owing to their exceptional talent and contributions. With a strong emphasis on education and a culture that values hard work and innovation, many Indian Americans have risen to prominent roles in the corporate world. This trend is particularly evident in the tech industry as leaders have not only shattered glass ceilings but have also played pivotal roles in driving innovation and growth for their respective organisations. And Aparna Chennapragada is yet another Indian American who has jumped on the bandwagon of Microsoft to help accelerate its generative AI initiatives.
The IIT-Madras alumnus, who later moved to the US for her MS in Computer Science at the University of Texas, was always interested in technology that could transform lives. Interested in building software, she joined her first job as a software engineer in 1999. After gaining experience for a decade, she had the thirst to learn more and enrolled in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s System Design and Management program, where she won third place in the MIT Venture Capital Competition 2008.
This led her to the doors of Google in 2008 where started as a product manager and in a span of 12 years made it to the Vice President of the company. “The biggest exciting moment for me is the combination of data and algorithms with useful user problems like looking for information to buy something. Everyone needs information on the go, and you need quick and bite-sized answers. Phones are turning into remote controls for our daily lives,” she said in an interview.
But now with AI taking over in almost every area of life, Aparna will be spearheading the generative AI initiatives within Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Designer. “Every few decades, there is a key shift in computing e.g., PC, the internet, mobile, and most recently AI that opens new possibilities for new helpful products. Just like mobile redefined areas such as news and navigation, I believe that generative AI has the potential to redefine creativity and productivity,” she said, adding, “With generative AI, there is an opportunity to build products that instantly and easily bring your intent and imagination to life. That’s why I am super excited to share that I am joining Microsoft as Corporate VP leading efforts on AI-first creation experiences, across #Microsoft365 and #MicrosoftDesigner.
Before her tenure at Microsoft, Chennapragada held positions at various organizations, including Robinhood, Google, eBay, and Akamai Technologies. Her journey at Google began as a product manager, eventually culminating in her role as Vice President and General Manager overseeing consumer shopping operations across the company. She also spearheaded augmented reality (AR) and visual search products, including Lens. Her impressive stint at the tech giant spanned over 12 years.
Additionally, she served as a board member at Capital One, a financial institution offering a wide range of financial products and services to consumers, small businesses, and commercial clients.
This action occurs within the context of a fierce rivalry in the artificial intelligence sector between Google and Microsoft. Chennapragada’s appointment follows a trend of Indian-American experts assuming significant positions at Microsoft. Previously, Rohini Srivathsa took on the role of Chief Technology Officer at Microsoft India and South Asia in September, and in August, Puneet Chandok was named Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President for India and South Asia.
Praising Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, with whom she had conversations in the last few months, Aparna has come to appreciate “his vision to empower people and organizations across the world using.” “I’m looking forward to diving in and putting AI to use to unleash our collective creativity,” she wrote in the LinkedIn post.
- Follow Aparna Chennapragada on LinkedIn