Murthy believed that Infosys was a professionally run company and should keep the children of promoters out of any management role within the company. “In this I was completely wrong. I was stripping this organization of legitimate talent. I take back everything I said. I think every individual should have the same opportunities as every other individual if he is considered to be the best person for that role,” he said at a press conference in Bangalore at Celebrations for 40 years of Infosys.
“The reason I probably embraced that idea at the time is that I was afraid that some people might bring in undeserving candidates and put them in positions, and I wanted the future of the organization to be strong,” he said. Murthy said that expertise should take precedence over all else when offered a job role. Responding to the same question, Infosys co-founder and president Nandan Nilekani said, “We should not practice reverse discrimination. ”
The 40th anniversary celebration that was brought forward a year due to the pandemic was something of a reunion of the founders, who shared the platform while reminiscing about the past. Infosys – sprung from a one bedroom flat with Rs 10,000 start up capital borrowed from Murthy’s wife Sudha Murty — has grown into a global technology brand with sales of more than $17 billion and a market capitalization of $78 billion.
Nilekani said when he returned to the company in 2017, he couldn’t stand Infosys becoming a reality show. “There is no plan B for when I leave. I have a huge responsibility. How do I make sure it delivers me so I continue on the 100 year journey? I’ll be here if needed. (But) I don’t want to sit here that long watching the 50th anniversary,” he said.
Nilekani said her challenge is acute. “I will have a president anytime I step out of the picture who will be a non-founder. Nilekani said he would like Infosys to evolve into an institution that survives the founders and through the generations through a professional model. “I still haven’t found a person to trust.”
Nilekani said robust succession planning is needed to take the company to the next stage of growth. “We need to enact a perpetual transition where every combination of chairman and CEO should have the same kind of trust and working relationship that Salil (Parekh) and I have. It’s hard to ask to think about the future. But that’s my goal,” Nilekani added.
Murthy commended Nilekani and Parekh for relaunching the company and accelerating growth over the past 5 years. “I am so proud of these two people and what their teams have achieved. A big note of gratitude to these two people,” he said. Nilekani described Murthy as the corporate Zubin Mehta, due to his love of Western classical music and his ability to spot talent and build a team.
Nilekani said Infosys followed the 3Rs – relevance, resilience and responsiveness – in spirit and practice. “In business you have to be relevant to exist. We want to be a no-drama, no-surprise, boring company,” Nilekani said.