N. R. Narayana Murthy
Father of Indian IT Sector
Some people leave imprints on our life because of the charisma in their persona. All that remains in our memory is a person’s behaviour and attitude in life and that essentially determines a person’s character. One great example of such a person having a chaste heart, a life dedicated to his dreams and the country is N. R. Narayana Murthy.
Nagavara Ramarao Narayana Murthy, the well-known IT mogul from Bengaluru, is credited with building India’s second largest software services company – Infosys – that now has an empire stretching from Bengaluru to Boston. During his tenure, the company not only saw exponential growth but also sparked an outsourcing revolution worldwide. The $7.3 billion firm has been almost synonymous with India’s reforms story.
His guiding principle in life is that- “If you undertake to do something, you are confident and have the capability to do it, you lay the foundation to build a healthy relationship.” He also believes that it is better to have a small part of a large growing pie than a large part of small shrinking one. Under Murthy, Infosys shifted focus to winning large bread-andbutter deals for commoditised work such as writing application software and managing IT networks. He also disbanded the executive council and started cutting costs, an initiative that moderately improved Infosys’ margins. It was the diligence of this man that made his dream come alive. He is a luminary for millions, a trend-setter for a country and the creator of an industry.
Before starting Infosys, Murthy worked with the Indian Institute of Management – Ahmedabad as chief systems programmer and with Patni Computer Systems in Pune (Maharashtra). Awarded with Padma Vibhushan, the country’s second highest civilian honour, Murthy studied electrical engineering at the National Institute of Engineering, University of Mysore and did his masters programme in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. Apart from juggling responsibilities at Infosys and at his venture capital initiative, Catamaran Investment Private Ltd, Murthy also serves on the boards of various entities including HSBC, Ford Foundation, Cornell University and Wharton School. He has been constantly ranked high among top business leaders and influential personalities by renowned media organisations like The Economist, TIME and CNN etc.
Known to be a humble person with a global vision, Murthy remained at the helm of Infosys for two decades after its inception in 1981. In 2006, he gave up all executive functions at Infosys when he turned 60 and stepped down as executive chairman of the board. From 2006 to August 20, 2011, he served as non-executive chairman and chief mentor of the company. However, in June 2013, Infosys had to bring its iconic founder N. R. Narayana Murthy out of retirement to strengthen the company that had slipped to the number three position in the Indian IT league since he left in August 2011. The company’s board of directors took the unusual decision to recall Narayana Murthy after a disappointing year which saw its share price fall by over 12 per cent in one day. Murthy’s comeback was indeed positive. Infosys gained over 23 per cent in three months following a renewed investor interest in stocks of export-oriented companies amid a sharp depreciation in the rupee against major currencies.
Murthy espouses that one of the leader’s core jobs is to raise the confidence of the followers. Tough times and challenges are essential parts of life. According to him, a leader has to sustain followers’ hopes and their energy levels to handle the difficult days. He is married to Sudha Murthy, who too is an engineer, an Indian social-worker and an accomplished author. Murthy has been listed among the 12 greatest entrepreneurs by Fortune magazine. He has been described as the “Father of Indian IT sector” by Time magazine. Humble and self-effacing, Murthy is known to fly in economy class and lives in a modest home in Bengaluru. He is a living legend, a rare combination of successful leadership and Gandhian humility.