N.R. Narayana Murthy, an Iconic Leader

Edited by Vani Rao

Nagavara Ramarao Narayana Murthy, more popularly known as Narayana Murthy, is the iconic leader of the Indian IT industry. He co-founded Infosys, the erstwhile bellwether of the Indian IT industry, and is credited withbuilding Infosys, an acronym for information system and India’s second-largest software services company that now has empire stretching from Bengaluru in India to Boston. During his tenure, the company not only saw exponential growth, but also sparked an outsourcing revolution worldwide.

N.R. Narayana Murthy
Source: Infosys Website

Mr Narayana Murthy’s contribution to India and the Indian IT industry is unparalleled. He has set the standards of excellence for millions of Indians across the world and has played a large role in placing India on the global IT map.

Murthy was born in Mysore, Karnataka. He completed his graduation from National Institute of Engineering, Mysore in 1967 and completed his Master’s degree from Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur in 1969. After completion of studies, he took up a job in in SESA at London. He helped in designing real-time software for managing air freight for Charles de Gaulle terminal in London. After working for three years with SESA, he decided to return to India.

Narayan Murthy has also worked as Chief Systems Programmer at IIM Ahmedabad before starting on his own with a company named Softronics in 1976. After the failure of the company, he joined Patni Computer Systems in Pune. Narayan Murthy co-founded Infosys in 1981 alongside 6 friends in Pune with an initial capital of Rs 10000($250) which Mr. Narayan Murthy has borrowed from his wife Sudha.

Mr. Murthy served as the CEO of the Bangalore-based Infosys, which is also listed on theNASDAQ,for 21 years and was succeeded by Nandan Nilekani one of the Co-founder in 2002. He played a key role in the articulated, designed, and implemented the Global Delivery Model which has become the foundation for the huge success in IT services outsourcing from India.

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 Infosys.

Infosys’ success over the past 30 years, both during Mr Murthy’s tenure as CEO and his role as Chairman and Chief Mentor, has in many ways been driven by his strong ethics and principles that have been embodied in every facet of Infosys. He is a perfectionist and his drive for excellence is an inspiration for anyone who has had the opportunity to work with him.

In June 2013, Infosys had to bring its iconic founder out of retirement to strengthen the company that had slipped to the number three slot in the Indian IT league since he left in August 2011.

Murthy’s comeback has been positive. Infosys’ share price rose by more than 900 pointsor 40% since the day Murthy resumed office.The company has posted impressive quarterly results and increased its yearly guidance, readying for a rapid turnaround.

Infosys-bloomberg 11 Dec 2013
Infosys performance since the return of Narayan Murthy: Jun – Dec 2013
Source:Bloomberg

After re-joining Infosys NRN Murthy became part of an illustrious list of founders such as Michael Dell, Steve Jobs, and Howard Shultz, which returned to the companies, they had started after either retiring or being ousted from them. Many like Jobs have actually been far more successful in their second stint than they were in the first. When the company is going through a challenging time, as Infosys clearly was,the investors often feel that there is no one better than a founder to steady the ship.

Murthy wanted to demonstrate that it is possible to run a legal and ethical business in India. He believed in the democratization of wealth anddistributed ESOPs to people. He has benchmarked himself on a scale of Ten to one, against global scale of productivity and quality.

NR Narayana Murthy has received numerous accolades including the Padma Shri award in 2000, Commander of the Order of the British Empire award by Government of United Kingdom in 2007, Officer of the Legion of Honour by Government of France in 2008, and the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second highest civilian award in 2008 by the President of India.

Narayan Murthy apart from managing responsibilities at Infosyslooks after his venture capital initiative Catamaran Investment Private Ltd; he also serves on the board of several organizations including HSBC, Ford Foundation, Cornell University, and Wharton School.

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