Nadar was born in 1945 in a small village called Moolaipozhi Village in Tamil Nadu. His mother, Vamasundari Devi, is the sister of S. P. Adithanar, founder of Daily Thanthi newspaper. His father, Sivasubramaniya Nadar, has several charitable trusts on his name, all opened by Shiv Nadar himself. Nadar studied in various schools during his teen years and went on to receive a pre-university degree in the American College, Madurai, and a degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore. Among his family tree, there are some people who have contributed their life with some prolific work. Nadar’s cousin Ramanichandran is a prolific Tamil romance novelist; meanwhile, his Uncle S. P. Adithanar is the founder of Daily Thanthi newspaper.
Shiv Nadar began his career in the IT industry at Walchand group’s Cooper Engineering Ltd. in Pune in 1967. However, he soon decided to start his own company with some of his IT professional friends. The initial enterprise that was started by Nadar and his friends as partners was called Microcomp. The company was focused on selling teledigital calculators in the Indian market. From there on, the engineers began to explore until HCL came about in 1976. The initial investment was Rs 1,87,000. As of today, HCL Technologies employs 150,000 people in 49 countries worldwide and hires high school grads, and trains them on the job.
In 2020, Nadar stepped down from the executive positions including chairman and managing director from HCL and promoted his daughter Roshni Nadar, who became the first chairwoman of a listed Indian IT Company. For his MD seat, C Vijay Kumar, HCL Tech CEO was promoted for a five-year term.
Nadar has wide-ranging achievements and trophies to show for it. In 2006 he received an honorary fellowship from the All India Management Association. In 2007, Madras University awarded him an honorary doctorate degree. In 2008, the government of India awarded him with a Padma Bhushan, the third-highest civilian award, for his contribution to the IT industry. In 2011 he figured amongst Forbes' 48 Heroes of Philanthropy in the Asia Pacific. In April 2017, India Today magazine ranked Nadar #16th in India's 50 most powerful people of 2017 list.
For Nadar’s philanthropic work, he has committed more than $1 billion to philanthropy, including the $662 million that he has donated to his Shiv Nadar Foundation, which backs education-related causes.