Sundar Pichai – IIT KGP meet Jan 2017 – Event Notes

Audience & Director of IIT KGP

over 3500 students have gathered to watch


Today, we are going to meet A man who is leading probably one of the most talented people in this world with the ability and dreams to change the world !

Lets take this opportunity and make this day memorable !

Rajan Anandan – MD of Google India


Google and IIT has a long history together.

Some Top leading performers and leaders in google are from IIT’s.

There is no debate that IITians all over the world have potential and are impacting billions of people !

Two Examples : Android and Chrome | both under Sundar’s Leadership has become amazing platforms in open source.

India is one among the largest contributors open source projects.


students have been great participation in Google Summer of Code.

PHD students and Faculty are working with world class computer science projects, specially in the area of Machine Learning.

Earlier, say 10-20 years back to learn new technology you might have wanted to leave India, But today India is a very different India, Over 350 million internet users, The 2nd largest internet market in the world, the most dynamic internet market in the world and in over 4 years we have 500 million internet users in India.

But now All of you can stay in India and innovate for India.

As we look at this country of 1.4 billion people, we have so many challengers and if you are an entrepreneur, Challengers equate to Opportunities.

For example,

We have opportunities in Financial Services, we have seen it in Demonetization lately.

Opportunities in Education, Healthcare, Agriculture, etc. you can just  name a sector in India and you have so many opportunities.

And we believe as Google, that all of these opportunities are going to be addressed by building new businesses by Young Amazing Entrepreneurs.

And these new business built will largely build on MOBILE FIRST because India is becoming a mobile first nation with people moving to smartphones.

So if consumers are to be connected on their phone. how do you invent & re imagine new business models that are going to address this incredible opportunities that we have across every single sector in India.

As Google we have been committed to working with developers, entrepreneurs, small businesses to help them build the skills that are required to go and build new businesses.

When Sundar was here Last year, a program to train 2 Million mobile developers in India, through national skills development of India and over 40 Institutes.

Imagine all these 2 Million people would be able to build world class mobile applications!!!

When we build for India, we build for the World.

Over last several years several new products has been launched, some are brand new, some are innovations to existing products.

For example, YouTube Offline feature is in 80 Countries now, Maps Offline.

IIT has helped the world in giving some of the best minds.




Moderator for the fireside chat today






Looking back at some old memories !!

Its Phenomenal to be here @IIT KGP after so many years ! I visited the college, Hostel, Nehru Hall !!

” I worked hard but ya i did share some fun too ! “

” I being from Chennai, didn’t know to speak Hindi, and use to listen how others speak.

One day i called a person in mess “Abe Saale” i thought that’s how people call people #LOL

“I met my wife Anjali here at IIT, she was my classmate . I use to meet her after college in her hostel ! there it was like they would shout that “Anjali Sundar has come for you” !

Lot of things have changed and improved over the years and it feels good now.

Over 1200 questions have been posted by students and a few are picked  and answered !



>  Every student aspires to be in  a respectable position, so when did you feel that you reached a checkpoint, how did you make the transition ?

  • i always looked into the things i like doing
  • I always wanted to work on computing and build computing products which would reach many users

These were my focuses so, i think this is the end result of those !


>  You are very humble person now, but surely you would have done some crazy things on campus, share any one moment with us !

  • i had almost all experiences which you people go through, stay late in the night, missing classes in the morning, develop close friendships, so good memories.


> What do you think is the next big thing in R&D at Google

  • Advances in Deep machine learning and AI . For example, a recent paper published on using machine learning to diagnose diabetic retina ( a condition that causes blindness, you can detect it earlier and completely cure it ) so when you apply machine learning to all kinds of fields to make life much accurate and easy.


> How much power do you have as a CEO in google, for example can you change the google doodle to IIT-KGP for a day ?

  • Google is set up in  a way to follow some set of rules, We build an organization with strong idles and values on when we show doodles for what occasions and its less about what i want to make it happen.


> What is the role of google in the digitization of India?

  • Getting google to work in many languages in India is a big focus and challenge and we are improving the experience with android, search so it works well in rural languages with right dialogues and situations.
  • Improving getting access for people, i would love to see cheaper smartphones to less than $30
  • Connectivity is extremely important and we have been working on the WiFi project, we have connected 100 railway stations
  • There is a massive gender gap between men and women using internet. We are training Indian rural women on how to use the internet.
  • Bringing small medium businesses to local merchants online
  • India has a good model of private – public partnerships
  • Supportive to Digital India program, Aadhar, UPI, working on digital payments etc.


> When do you think India will catch on China ( on digital front ) ?

  • I think the goal should be a little different, i am convinced that India will be a global player in the Digital Economy and it will be competitive than any country in the world.
  • India has all the foundations
  • The approach in some startups in India has been world class
  • I think we are growing well as a country, stay ahead and in a few more years we could reach.


> AI (Artificial Intelligence) is there when you studied in IIT too, but why its suddenly been a Buzz word for the last couple of years ? 

  • Techniques we use in deep learning neural networks has been around for many years, early on they weren’t that effective because we didn’t have computational power to run these algorithms. But for the past few years the computational power has been dramatically increased. So if you run deep learning on latest computational power and with better access to data you get dramatic breakthroughs.For Example, we recently made improvements to google translate, the machine learning is incredible. The ability of computers to do these tasks, be it, image recognition, speech recognition, its really hitting a tipping point.
  • We are investing a lot and trying to benefit to extend all these features to as much users as possible.


> where do you see yourself 10 years from now ? 

  • 10 years is a long shift, 1980’s PC’s came, 1990’s Internet came, 2000’s Smartphones came and its really exciting on how the shift will be after 10 years, I would be aspiring to build more products where people use.


> How can a student like me studying mathematics get into google without being good core computer science ?

  • Haha, As we discussed earlier deep machine learning and the algorithms involve mathematical functions, so you keep going!


> Job interview at google

  • April 1,2004 on April Fools Day, google had just announced gmail that too through invite only, people weren’t sure whether it was April fools joke, people asked me ‘what you think of gmail’ and i didn’t have a chance to use it so i thought it was a April fools joke.
  • The first three interviews i wasn’t able to answer proper because i haven’t used those products. then someone showed me what gmail was and so in the fourth interview i was able to share my thoughts on gmail and how it could be improved, they even took and bought me ice cream and showed that google is a different place.
  • I joined google when there was a 1000 people and it was the first time Larry had stopped interviewing people so i still say that ‘i got into google because Larry didn’t interview me’


> Being  in metallurgy, how did you get passion for Computer Science

  • I always had a passion in programming , about learning FORTRAN and i enjoyed doing it.


> Did you get a feeling of future insecurity while you were in college ? like will i be able to stand out ? will i be able to make a place on my own ? will i get a job?

  • Working with amazing people was challenging, i used to think when i am alone people around me were always good and better
  • I think what you feel is natural ! when you work with amazing people its always good and having a thought of people around you is better and competitive is good.
  • If you are feeling comfortable means you aren’t pushing yourself


 What is that drives innovation at google ?

  • We always had an ambitious approach,We call it 10x or Moonshots, We want to work on things people use everyday  and solves the real problem for them.

  • We aim high and try to use deep computer science to anything we approach

You have to aim high enough that you fail a few times, that is a natural part of the process

Larry Page use to say, ” If you work on really difficult things you are better off that you have no competition because others aren’t working on difficult problems, and even if you Fail you end up doing something great”

I think this philosophy guided us all through these years !


Indian market is not large enough to invest in technology, how do you in this situations compete with the MNC’s which have large investment in technologies ?

  • In India, the potential is there and market is developing. it will take a few more years to realize its full potential. We are excited and talking about smartphones but In a country of 1.3 Billion only 300 Million use smartphones and lot of them have no good connectivity as well. So the digital market is still developing. This makes the startup companies difficult to scale across India which lack in resources to compete with international markets
  • Indian companies are more thoughtful in building stuff in targetted areas. The trend is changing and in 5-10 years we can see big software companies form India.


Technology is changing education.

You can get access to best courses through online like Stanford, MIT, etc.

There are 5000 engineering colleges in India, how should students think about education ?

  • interest in education
  • it is important to be well rounded, spending time in learning skills apart from academics.
  • Activities such as cultural programs, celebrations are important too.
  • Understanding things in  a deeper way, learning by doing things
  • Try different things
  • Find what they like doing
  • Take some risks
  • Encourage people to follow their passion
  • Value creativity
  • Value experience of doing things hands on/ practically
  • Academics is important but its not as important also
  • Improve Experimental learning, live projects, internships, etc.

“Setbacks don’t actually matter. It is important to keep your hopes, keep your dreams moving forward. Most of how life plays out is up to you and not up to what happens outside”


this is  a general message to all the students out there !

” Getting into an IIT do matter a lot of value but, it only doesn’t guarantee success ”

Life is a long road, take it at a right pace and enjoy what you are doing.

There are lots of people from other institutions also who are working in google.

Love what you do and try to be well at it.


  • We have around 60,000 people at google.
  • We have an outstanding strong leadership team.
  • Learning to let go.
  • Empowering people.
  • Trusting them to do the right thing.
  • Making sure you have good people and remove roadblocks for them to make them successful in what they do.
  • Value teamwork where people like to work together, so setting up collaborative culture.

Its not about me as one person, its a team and if the team succeeds I also succeed.



  1. Do you watch coffee with karan ? Yes, Sometimes
  2. How do you spend your free time ? Watch cricket and Soccer, stay in touch with friends and family
  3. What was your GPA at IIT ? It was low during 1st year but improved the next 3 years
  4. Who was your idol in your B.Tech days ? I like a lot of people, i like people who impact change eg) Narayana Murty of infosys, i love watching cricket Tendulkar started playing when i joined IIT.
  5. Your favourite bollywood actress ? Deepika Padukone
  6. Your favourite professor ? Roy, Indran
  7. Do you still get calls from college friends ? Yes
  8. How can i replace you at google ? Be careful what he wishes for #lol
  9. Favourite cricketer at present ? Virat kohli


( Click the youtube link below – redirects to Google India )

#BackOnCampus: Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Live in Conversation at IIT – KGP

the video starts after 13 minutes !


News related to this event


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