When he was 29 years old, Satya Nadella was looking forward to the birth of his first child. Like many parents, the Microsoft CEO looks back on that time and the excitement in his house as he prepped to be a parent with his wife Anu Nadella.
During his appearance at the GeekWire Summit in Seattle on Wednesday, Nadella shared how the birth of his son, Zain, perhaps more than anything else in his life, shaped a lot of who Nadella is today.
“Both my wife and me were the only children of our parents,” Nadella said. “So when Zain was about to be born it was all exciting in the house and we were looking forward to him and the nursery being ready and how quickly [Anu] could get back to her work as an architect, which she’d just started.
“But of course that night when he was born, everything changed,” he said.
Zain suffered in-utero asphyxiation which caused severe brain damage and left him with cerebral palsy. Nadella details the impact his son’s birth and life has had on him in his new book, “Hit Refresh.”
“Quite frankly I struggled with it,” Nadella said on Wednesday. “I struggled with it for perhaps multiple years because the well laid out plans of mine as sort of a mid-level or even an entry-level engineer at Microsoft were all sort of out the window. I needed to recalibrate. For a long time I thought, ‘Why is this happening to us, and me?'”
Nadella credits his wife — who not long after her C-section, was driving Zain to doctor’s appointments — with getting him out of his stupor.
He also said his family has been blessed over the years with the community of health care professionals in the Seattle area who they have come to rely on for their son’s care. Not to mention the role of technology involved in that care.
“Zain has gone through many hardships of medical surgeries and what have you,” Nadella said. “There’s even one incident I remember. One day I was sitting waiting for him to come out of his surgery and all of the equipment around me and all of it was Windows. And I was saying, ‘Hey, it all better work.’
“It just gave me an understanding of the responsibility of a platform company, a technology company.”