Pillai believes success has many fathers. He credits where he is today to the people who helped him along the way. Sunder Pillai


My Roots: Sunder Pillai

The chief innovation officer of travel and hospitality services at NTT Data Services on his education in Mumbai, India.

Finding love Sunder Pillai met his wife, Sue, at a company training program, and they have been together for almost six years.

“My family is from Mumbai, India. I did my schooling there. I [received] my diploma in electronic engineering, the intent being [to earn] skill-based training. Coming from where I come from, one of the key things that I’ve understood, or that subconsciously my dad has instilled in me is, if you look at Maslow’s triangle, there’s food, clothing, and shelter. For him it was education, education, education. That was the foundational layer to where I am today. One of my part-time gigs in my early 20s was working for a well-known doctor in Mumbai who was a motivational speaker. Being a motivational speaker, one of the key things he used to say was, ‘If you were to die today, what would your tombstone read?’ That, as a youngster of 21, 22 years of age, was difficult to fathom, but you kind of understand what your priorities should be. When my parents were seeing me off the first time I traveled to the U.S., the fear of the unknown was there. But I think going back to being ambitious and, more importantly, being curious and hungry, overpowered the fear factor. I met my wife Sue at a company training program. I don’t know how much training I got, but I found my better half. Now we are blessed with a baby boy. We’ve named him Shay.”    

Kicking off his career in India When Pillai was in his early 20s, he worked part time for a doctor in Mumbai transcribing motivational speeches.