“The counselor didn’t really want to talk to him, but was nice enough to listen. For 20 minutes non-stop, in a very passionate and angry fashion, my father blasted away at the counselor, explaining to him how much of an opportunity he was depriving me of.”
That’s how Sanjay Mehrotra, CEO of flash memory titans, SanDisk, describes his father advocating on his behalf to the US consulate in New Delhi. International students and workers will recognize this situation — essentially, you’re left begging for mercy and fairness from one single person who has the power to change the course of your life.
Thankfully, Mehrotra’s father was a persuasive negotiator but his challenges didn’t end there. After founding SanDisk with his international student colleagues, the company had to navigate an increasingly competitive and fluid market before hitting their stride and enjoying the dramatic success that they eventually earned.
It makes you wonder: who are the Sanjay Mehrotra’s who didn’t have persistent fathers? What kind of innovations do we miss because people don’t have the right opportunities? Mehrotra studied hard for 12 years to get into UC Berkeley, a hurdle almost certainly followed by work visas and other challenges. On top of that, his company’s main product began losing relevance during the economic crash of 2008. At that point, he and his executive colleagues had to make some hard decisions that would determine their future, for better or worse.
Read more about how the international students who built SanDisk overcame numerous obstacles to build a billion dollar brand at Business Insider.
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