What it’s like to work for Google under Sundar Pichai

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai
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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

It’s been almost a year since Google restructured itself, creating Alphabet and handing the CEO reigns of Google proper to Sundar Pichai.

By nearly all accounts Pichai is a wildly popular CEO.

Still, while its boss is highly respected, working for Google these days isn’t exactly perfect, some Googlers complain.

Here’s a rundown on what it’s like to work with Pichai directly, and what some Googlers are saying about their company these days.


Before being named CEO of Google in August, 2015, Pichai was already a powerful leader at Google, as its product chief.

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YouTube

Pichai’s first big success came after Google hit an infamous “Doomsday” situation: Microsoft changed the default search engine on Internet Explorer to Bing. In those days, 2006, almost everyone used IE. Pichai was responsible for coming up with a response. His solution? A “Google Toolbar” that PC makers installed directly onto their PC and browser.

Source: Bloomberg


Pichai then led the development of Chrome. All of these early successes helped him with two qualities: he became a master politician within Google and the industry at large, and he became known for getting things done through partnerships, without making enemies.

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Flickr/Isaac Bowen

Source: Quora: What did Sundar Pichai do, that his peers didn’t do, to get promoted through the ranks from an entry level PM to CEO of Google?


Pichai also became known for a close relationship with Larry Page. Some people began to see him as Page’s “interpreter,” able to take Page’s vision and execute it, coordinating the work between groups at Google.

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REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage

Source: Here’s what our Google sources are saying about Sundar Pichai’s sudden rise


He also has the reputation of being a visionary himself with clear ideas on how Google should evolve its services, from imbuing them with artificial intelligence/machine learning to how to make the mobile web faster.

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YouTube

Source: Google, This year’s Founders’ Letter


Pichai’s style is to sit quietly in a meeting and listen to everyone, then deliver an idea that could work for everyone.

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Google

Source: Here’s what our Google sources are saying about Sundar Pichai’s sudden rise


Pichai is also famous for a nearly photographic memory, especially of numbers. He’s been known to sometimes show off his memory at meetings.

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Flickr/S.Alexis

Source: Bloomberg


Pichai is soft spoken, but he thinks and talks quickly.

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Getty Images

Source: What is it like to work with Sundar Pichai?


Pichai has always been well-liked as a leader at Google more focused on results than on ego/getting credit. As a CEO his popularity has soared. One Googler on Quora wrote, “He is literally worshipped inside Google. Engineers love him. Product Managers love him. Business people love him.”

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Source: How is Sundar Pichai perceived internally at Google?


Another Googler wrote, “He can express very complex ideas in simple terms, often tailored well to the target audience. Even when someone asks him what might be a seemingly fickle question, he takes the time to answer well.”

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai gestures as he addresses a conference with Vietnamese IT community in Hanoi
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Thomson Reuters

Source: Glassdoor.


Those qualities have given him a 98% approval rating on Glassdoor. He has been named one of the highest rated CEOs on Glassdoor for 2016.

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Google

Source: Glassdoor.


All that said, Pichai has taken over an absolutely enormous company. Google’s parent, Alphabet, employs near 62,000 people, most of whom work for Google.

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Facebook/Life at Google

Source: Google’s parent company, Alphabet, now has over 61,000 employees


And that means that there are some less-than-wonderful things about working at Google, even under someone as popular as Pichai.

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Spencer Platt/Getty Images

For instance, some employees complain there’s a lot of politics at the company and the quality of your work life depends very much on the group you are in. One employee on Glassdoor writes that there’s a “huge discrepancy in how different departments are treated. Work/life balance is poor to medium (depending on department).”

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Bloomberg / Getty Images

Source: Glassdoor.


An often repeated complaint on Glassdoor is that, because Google is so big these days, it suffers from “too much bureaucracy.”

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Wikipedia

Source: Glassdoor.


That said, many employees who joined after Pichai took over are overwhelmingly positive about their job and the company’s culture. “The perks and benefits are everything you’ve heard before, and more. I’m surprised daily. I’ve been in and around the Valley for 20+ years at some of the biggest companies in tech. Nothing comes close to my experience here at Google. Every new person I meet is the smartest person I’ve ever met. The work is compelling, the environment is a conduit for creativity.”

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Google employees form a Google “G.”
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Google

Source: Glassdoor.