Gautam leaning on office cabinetSVP, Global Corporate Marketing and Human Resources, LSI, and a Joint Venture Board Member

By Duffy Jennings, Valley Vision Editor

Migrating from India to San Francisco as a young boy might have been daunting for most kids from a foreign country, but it opened a new world for Gautam Srivastava.

“I loved growing up in San Francisco!” he says of his early years in the city in the 1970s. “I would ride the Muni bus all over by myself when I was seven. I had an incredible childhood. The city was a playground for me.”

The burgeoning diversity of San Francisco neighborhoods in that era, especially in the Richmond and Sunset Districts where he lived and went to school, made it easy for Gautam to fit in.

You could say he’s been fitting in ever since. Today Gautam Srivastava is a senior vice president with LSI Corporation in Milpitas, a $2.5 billion global company. LSI designs semiconductors and software that accelerate storage and networking in datacenters, mobile networks and client computing.

He joined the company in 2009 and is now responsible for its global corporate marketing organization, including brand management, corporate communications and events.

He also oversees human resources for LSI, which has 5000 employees in 20 locations around the world.

“We have been working to elevate LSI’s relevancy and position in the tech industry,” says Srivastava. “There’s a data deluge that’s growing at 40 percent per year, yet the infrastructure to handle all this new data is growing only two to three percent per year.

“We need to scale the capabilities of IT infrastructure to deal with that level of data growth. Here at LSI we make silicon and software products that use intelligence to prioritize data that is shared over mobile networks or stored in data centers.  Our customers, which include large OEMs like Dell, HP, Cisco, Huawei and others, as well as large telecom equipment companies like Ericsson, deploy our products in their systems.”

Srivastava has recently begun his second term on the Joint Venture board of directors after having to interrupt his first stint in 2006 when he transferred to Dubai for his earlier company, Advanced Micro Devices.

“What appealed to me most about Joint Venture when I first joined was the Silicon Valley Index,” he says. “I’m very data driven and the Index was a simple comprehensive way to look at what was going on in Silicon Valley.”

“It’s something you don’t see a lot of nonprofits do so well. I wanted to learn more so I called Russ Hancock. His passion was infectious. It’s a unique group of people – business, academia, government – it really made sense to me.”

Srivastava’s time in Dubai, where he managed sales, marketing and public affairs for AMD in the Middle East, Africa and Pakistan, reinforced his world view of Silicon Valley as a global center for technology, leading him back to Joint Venture this past June.

“Gautam is a very intelligent, out-of-the-box thinker and charismatic leader,” said his friend and colleague Charlie Kawwas, senior vice president of sales for LSI. “He has a unique ability to abstract thoughts and focus a team very quickly on the right elements to put forward a cohesive strategy and implementation plans. He has strong leadership and personal capabilities. We are very lucky at LSI to have Gautam as part of the leadership team.”

“Gautam is also a phenomenal individual at the personal level,” Kawwas added. “He always seeks to understand people’s situations, pressure points and capabilities while working and interacting with them.  He is very humble and respectful to everyone.”

Gautam was born in Calcutta in 1972. He was the only child of Subhash, a factory manager, and Kanta Srivastava, who fell victim to breast cancer when Gautam was only two.

An educated man who wanted the best for his son, Subhash then moved with Gautam to the Bay Area, first staying with family in Berkeley and soon settling in San Francisco.

“My father wanted a new start for us,” says Gautam. “Our neighborhood was a melting pot of Irish, Italian, Chinese and a few Indian families.”

Gautam attended St. Monica’s in the Richmond District and then St. Ignatius College Preparatory while his father worked in a restaurant and later began a career in real estate.

“He was very patient and had to be entrepreneurial. Because it was just he and I, we did a lot of things together. I still remember that he would pick me up from school, and take a pause from his busy day to buy me a cone at Baskin Robbins on 22nd and Geary after school. That was our thing.

“In school I enjoyed English, economics, and Roman history. I wrote well – my father always insisted on good grammar and he corrected all my papers in school. Also, I had a gift for conceptual thinking and I was interested in how policy could affect people.”

After high school, Gautam enrolled at UCLA, where he earned his BA degree in business economics. “I like Southern California – the diversity, the complexity, the cultural spectacle of it.”

After college, Gautam joined SCA Management Consulting, specializing in performance compensation design, and later moved to New York City. In 1999, he finally made his way back to San Francisco to help launch online file storage startup i-drive.com.

When things didn’t turn out as expected with the startup, he subsequently joined Mercer Consulting. While he felt his career was progressing, he became aware that something was missing. He lamented to a respected mentor from UCLA, professor emeritus Peter Hammond, that his personal life was lacking in companionship.

“Peter always had good advice for me and suggested I try to meet women where my interests are. So I went to a South Asian film festival in San Francisco. Within the first ten minutes there, I saw her.”

“Her” was Dr. Neelam Amin, a DuPont staff scientist who had grown up in Bangalore, India. You can guess the rest. The couple married in late 2001, in ceremonies both in San Francisco and Bangalore.

Today they have two sons, Ashil, 9, and Sahil, 5. If the names seem like anagrams from the same five letters, that was intentional. “We thought it was a clever idea at the time,” says Gautam, “now we get them mixed up!”

In 2004, AMD’s vice president of human resources Reid Linney hired Srivastava as its director of compensation and benefits – although he had limited experience managing a function within human resources at the time.

“He was going to be managing a global team of 30 or so people for us, so I was taking a big risk,” said Linney, now a consultant to LinkedIn. “But I could see in him that bit of magic in what it takes to be successful in the corporate setting.

“All the signals were positive. Gautam is super smart, analytic and has an engaging personality – all the leadership skills. It was a pure gut feel. I liked the way he thought. We promoted him to VP in 18 months. He may have been the youngest VP ever at AMD.”

Now in his third year with LSI, Srivastava travels extensively, including business trips two or three times a year to India, where he is able to visit his father, who’s now retired and living there.

When he’s home, Gautam’s weekends are consumed with the boys’ activities and socializing with friends, biking and reading.

Of late, he’s into spy novels (“Rain Fall” by Barry Eisler and “Primal” by Jack Silkstone) and historical fiction (“Chanakya’s Chant,” by Ashwin Sanghi).

“I try to keep up with my older son who has lately started to read whatever he can.”

About Joint Venture

Established in 1993, Joint Venture Silicon Valley provides analysis and action on issues affecting our region's economy and quality of life. The organization brings together established and emerging leaders—from business, government, academia, labor and the broader community—to spotlight issues and work toward innovative solutions.