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Sikka looks to tap Infy co-founders' expertise

August 04, 2014 10:53 IST

Sikka looks to tap Infy co-founders' expertise

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Vishal Sikka, Infosys's newly-appointed chief executive, has reached out to several of the company's co-founders to explore opportunities on tapping their expertise and knowledge to the company's benefit.

Sikka, the former technology head and executive board member at German software maker SAP, has urged S (Kris) Gopalakrishnan to become a mentor for the company's science and technology initiatives.

Gopalakrishnan, co-founder and non-executive chairman, set to retire in October, is learnt to have 'more or less agreed' to the proposal, though he is yet to take a final decision, sources privy to the development say.

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Image: N R Narayana Murthy with Infosys CEO & MD Vishal Sikka.
Photographs: Shailendra Bhojak/PTI
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Gopalakrishnan, a strong believer in material sciences and a post-graduate in physics, with an MTech degree in computer science from Indian Institute of Technology-Madras, is currently investing a part of his personal fortune in enabling research in 'brain mapping', in partnership with Indian Institute of Science and Carnegie Mellon University.

Infosys doesn't have a mentor now, as co-founder N R Narayana Murthy has recused himself from all responsibilities, ahead of his retirement from the company in October.

In 2011, when Murthy had first retired from the company, he continued to be associated with Infosys as chief mentor and chairman emeritus.

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Image: S D Shibulal has made immense contribution to the growth of the company.
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Sikka said, "I am talking to Kris to see if he can become a mentor for us from a science and technology point of view.

"We don't know the contour of the engagement yet, but when we spoke to him, he was willing to listen."

Sources say Gopalakrishnan might be associated with Infosys Science Foundation, which awards researchers in various streams, including social sciences.

Sikka is also learnt to have spoken to co-founder and former vice-chairman Nandan Nilekani, though the latter is said to have conveyed he had other plans.

"The founders don't want to be involved (with the company's working) because they don't want to leave even a glimpse of any question that they are trying to change anything. But on the other hand, they are fully available to us," Sikka said.

"I am looking forward to and am very excited about talking to them and pounding on them for their advice."

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Image: Vishal Sikka, CEO, Infosys
Photographs: Courtesy, SAP

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Gopalakrishnan was a part of a five-member team that had founded Infosys in 1981. Through the years, he has served in various capacities, including chief executive (2007-2011). More recently, he was Infosys's executive vice-chairman.

In January, Pratiksha Trust, established by him and his wife Sudha Gopalakrishnan, had committed Rs 225 crore through 10 years towards setting up and operating a centre for brain research.

The centre will be developed in collaboration with Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru.

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Image: Infosys campus.
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In July, Gopalakrishnan had donated an additional $1.8 million (Rs 10.8 crore) to Carnegie Mellon University to establish a research partnership between the university and Indian Institute of Science's Centre for Brain Research.

Research and development related to science and technology are close to Sikka's heart.

Widely considered an ace technocrat, Sikka, a doctorate in artificial intelligence from Stanford University, had led the development of the HANA platform, SAP's flagship product and the fastest to have generated $1 billion in revenue for the company.

In his interactions after being named Infosys's chief executive, Sikka has, time and again, stressed the need for innovation at the company.


Image: Infosys campus.
Photographs: Reuters

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