When V Balakrishnan, director and head of the India business unit, the business process outsourcing (BPO) unit and Finacle at Infosys, offloaded a part of his stake in Infosys last month, it led to speculation. On Friday, the company announced his exit, bringing to an end an association of about 22 years. In an interview with Bibhu Ranjan Mishra, Balakrishnan says he has been thinking of leaving the company and starting something of his own for the past year, since he decided to step down as chief financial officer (CFO). Excerpts:
Why did you decide to quit the company?
I have been thinking about this for some time. I want to do something beyond Infosys, in the private equity space. I want to spend more time with young entrepreneurs in building businesses. So, I thought this was the right time. Recently, I started a fund along with Mohan (T V Mohandas Pai); it is called Exfinity Fund. We applied to Sebi (Securities and Exchange Board of India) and are awaiting the approval. So, I thought this was the right time to do it.
Did you get any indication you might not be considered for the chief executive officer (CEO)’s post, considering this was being talked about?
No, no! That was never in my mind. As I told you, it was not a sudden decision. I have been thinking about this for the last year. After I stepped down as CFO in October last year, I have been thinking about this.
When you decided to step down as CFO, was it your personal choice or did the company impose the decision on you? Did you feel hurt at that time?
No, it was my personal decision. It was because I had been in that role for a very long time. I thought there was a youngster and so, let’s give him the opportunity. I have been thinking about my future from that time.
For the CEO’s post, three names from within the company had popped up at different points. Your name was one of those (the others were Ashok Vemuri and B G Srinivas). Now, only one candidate (Srinivas) is left.
That is a decision the nomination committee of Infosys has to take.
Is Infosys broadening the CEO-search process with external candidates?
I don’t know. For that, you have to talk to Murthy or the board.
It seems things were fine till the return of N R Narayana Murthy. After that, the whole environment changed. Does your exit, as well as those of a few others, have something to do with this?
No, no! Murthy coming back is a good thing for the company, and he is making all the right moves. My decision is more of a personal one.
When you sold Infosys shares last month, there was buzz you might be planning to leave the company, something you had denied. Was it an indication of things to come?
These are all independent events; there are no linkages. As I told you, I have been thinking about this for a long time, and have taken the decision now.
Will you be associated with any other IT services company after leaving Infosys?
I don’t know. I haven’t thought about that. Right now, the fund is there. My interest is to work with young entrepreneurs to build businesses and see if I can add value to the boards of other global companies. I will look at these.
On what note are you leaving Infosys?
I am leaving on very good note. But I want to pursue things that interest me. I think there are a lot of things which I can do outside. I thought now, this was the right thing to do.