Satya Nadella's son passes away aged 26

Zain Nadella, the Microsoft CEO's son, suffered from cerebral palsy and inspired his father's drive to improve accessibility features at the tech giant.

Zain Nadella, son of MicrosoftCEO Satya Nadella and his wife Anu, has passed away aged 26. Zain had suffered from cerebral palsy due to complications related to his birth.

Satya Nadella had written emotionally about his wife's delivery at 11:29 PM on August 13, 1996 in his memoir Hit Refresh: The Quest to Rediscover Microsoft's Soul and Imagine a Better Future for Everyone in 2017. As Nadella describes it, "little did I know then how profoundly our lives would change."

Zain's birth had to be preponed as the doctors were alarmed when Nadella and his wife went in for a checkup. Zain had suffered utero asphyxiation, a condition that would leave him wheelchair bound and dependent on his parents for his entire life.

As Nadella describes it, his wife picked up the baton immediately while he took a while to adjust to the new reality. "Anu’s reaction to Zain’s birth was immediately so different from mine," Nadella wrote in a 2017 LinkedIn post. "For Anu, it was never about what this meant for her — it was always about what it meant for Zain and how we could best care for him. Rather than asking “why us?” she instinctually felt his pain before her own."

"Her empathy for others runs deep, and from her I have learned that when I infuse empathy into my every day actions it is powerful, whether they be in my role as a father or as a CEO," continued Nadella.

Nadella credits the birth of his son for shaping the man he became, personally and professionally. The LinkedIn post from 2017 was written to talk about how Microsoft had imbibed Nadella's values around driving inclusion in the workplace.

Not only did Nadella announce multiple accessibility features for Microsoft's users, but also mentioned the good work the company did in hiring those with disabilities through programs like the Autism Hiring Program and the Supported Employment Program.

As Nadella put it best, "becoming a father of a son with special needs was the turning point in my life that has shaped who I am today. It has helped me better understand the journey of people with disabilities. It has shaped my personal passion for and philosophy of connecting new ideas to empathy for others."

"And it is why I am deeply committed to pushing the bounds on what love and compassion combined with human ingenuity and passion to have impact can accomplish with my colleagues at Microsoft."


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