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Narayana Murthy on life post Infosys

Last updated on: May 3, 2011 09:04 IST

Narayan Murthy on life post Infosys

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Bibhu Ranjan Mishra, Pradeesh Chandran

N R Narayana Murthy, co-founder and the man behind one of India's entrepreneurial success stories, Infosys, has decided to bid adieu to the company after August 20.

Its longest-serving CEO (he held the position from 1981 to 2002), he leaves Infosys when the gap between it and the number one information technology services company (TCS) is growing wider.

Here, he talks of the past, the present and what lies before Infosys.

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Image: N R Narayana Murthy
Photographs: Rediff Archive
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Narayana Murthy on life post Infosys

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After your exit, will you be shutting yourself out from Infosys? Yesterday, you said you will have 'absolutely no time' for it after August 21.

I meant that after that date, I will have no responsibilities; there will be no need for me to attend any board meeting.

I have no need to attend any executive management meeting and do anything on a statutory basis.

However, having said this, I would be very happy to add whatever little value I can to anybody from Infosys, if asked. I will be there if they want.

The days are going to be longer for you after Infosys, without the mandatory commitments for the company.

No. I actually lead a very busy life. I spend almost 20 days in a month abroad, and only seven-eight days in a month am I in India.

This (the time I spend in India) is quite short for doing the things I want to do. Therefore, I will continue to be busy. My overseas travels will continue.

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Photographs: Reuters
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Narayana Murthy on life post Infosys

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Are you not going to miss Infosys that you reared since its birth over 30 years ago?

It is just like the feeling when a person's daughter leaves the family after getting married to a young man.

You feel sad because somebody whom you have given birth to and raised all these years is, in some ways, going away.

But there is also a feeling of happiness, as she (daughter) will have a better future with the younger person. In my case, I can be in touch with Infosys if I want.

So, this is a mixed feeling for me.

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Photographs: Reuters
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Narayana Murthy on life post Infosys

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The existing leadership feels your exit will create a vacuum. Can you exit the company and be at peace?

I definitely think I can live in peace, as I am definitely sure that these (new leaders) are very capable people.

They are, of course, very kind to say good things about me. But I think they are in many ways smarter than me.

Had you been an aggressive boss at Infosys as you were in your Patni (PCS) days?

I was very aggressive and even today, I am. Everybody has faced my aggression. I don't like starting meetings late; I don't like sloppy work.

I am toughest on my secretary, but he rarely gives me an opportunity to become upset with him.

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Image: Sudha Murthy, N R Narayana Murthy, Nandan Nilekani and Rohini Nilekani in the early 1980s
Photographs: Reuters
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Narayana Murthy on life post Infosys

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At a time when the company is slowly transitioning leadership to non-founders, will they be able to maintain the original approach which has led the company to become a $6-bn entity?

Right from day one, we have conducted ourselves as highest quality professionals and divorced management from control. We have also laid down very clear policies.

Therefore, we have created an environment where a professional can indeed show as much commitment to the company as a founder-member.

Do you think the entrepreneurial journey which has made Infosys a global entity is replicable?

Lot has been written and research taken place on entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial behaviour. After all, entrepreneurship is all about taking bold decisions; it is about great commitment, sacrifice and deferred gratification.

It is also about the power of converting an idea into wealth. It is all about mindset and how we create an environment where people act in an entrepreneurial manner.

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Photographs: Reuters
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Narayana Murthy on life post Infosys

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The growth of Infosys has slowed in the last couple of years as compared to the peers. Does it not pain you?

We have to go by what guidance (expectation) we have given. Last year, we gave a guidance of a 16-18 per cent growth. But we grew 25.8 per cent, which is more than 50 per cent over our promise.

Therefore, I don't know if we can say that we have slowed. How many corporations in the world do you see growing at 25.8 per cent at revenues of $6 billion?

This year, we said we would grow between 18-20 per cent. Remember, according to Nasscom, the average growth rate last year was 18 per cent.

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Photographs: Reuters
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Narayana Murthy on life post Infosys

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Any unfinished agenda?

No. It is a continuum of progress. Certain things have been achieved; we have a lot more things to do.

This corporation is 30 years old and, hopefully, it should be alive and kicking for hundreds of years. Therefore, I think more and more works have to be done.

I do believe we must have a mechanism to support the poor in this country and prevent them from becoming victims of moneylenders.

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Image: Narayana Murthy, when Concordia University conferred him with an honorary doctorate

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Narayana Murthy on life post Infosys

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Your first investment (in SKS Microfinance) after setting up the venture fund, Catamaran, raised many eyebrows. Do you think that was a mistake?

Right now, the Malegam committee is looking into those issues (concerning the MFI sector), and I don't want to comment on that.

I have tremendous respect for (Y H) Malegam and hope he will come out with a wonderful set of recommendations.

While setting up the venture fund, you said Catamaran will invest in early-stage companies and fund innovative ideas? How far have you succeeded?

I don't want to give out their names. I have supported and funded many youngsters to continue their work and come out with good results. That I will continue to do, without making much noise.

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Narayana Murthy on life post Infosys

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Have you not thought of philanthropic activities like other industry leaders?

We have been into philanthropy for a long time, but I don't want to talk about it. Philanthropy is only to be done, not to be talked about.

Are you going to capture your experiences at Infosys in the form of an autobiography?

At this point of time, I don't have any plans. Let's see, the plan may change in the future.

 



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