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Narayana Murthy: Father of Indian I.T Sector

Narayana Murthy: Father of Indian I.T Sector

In God we Trust the rest should come up with data, is perhaps the most favourite statement of Mr. Murthy, when confronted with difficult decisions he tends to rely on data.

26th June 2013

Success is something that all of us wish to attain, irrespective of different career objectives, goals and interests. But if it were so easy, everyone who wanted it would have it, its relative elusiveness is what makes it so special. It’s exclusive to a handful of people who did extraordinary things constantly inventing and reinventing procedures and practices in their lives to get them where they are today, it is a blessing to those people who have started from the bottom and worked their way up in life. Attaining success in the sub-continent is a misery in itself given the levels of corruption, bureaucracy, red-tapism, internal inflexibilities and procedural rigidities. One man who has braved the odds and withstood to establish a software empire, with a meager capital raised from family savings is Nagavara Ramarao Narayana Murthy, usually referred to as N.R. Narayana Murthy, born on 20th August 1946 to a lower middle class family in Mysore, Mr.Murthy excelled in his studies, especially in physics and mathematics. His teachers and friends in school say that he could grasp the theories of science faster than the speed of light; a humble boy with ambitions as big as the skyscrapers of Chicago, IIT(Indian Institute of Technology) was young Murthy’s dream. There was an entrance test to get an admission into the much coveted institution; he decided to apply for the exam with no books, reference materials or guides. Murthy and a few other aspirants would sit down in a stone structure in the sleepy town of Mysore close to Chamundi Hills, while other aspirants struggled literally to even understand and analyze the problems in the question paper, a shy Murthy would solve the problem in no time much to the surprise of his friends. Predictably he cleared the IIT exams and broke the news to his family, however their poor financial condition did not give the opportunity to make it to the IIT. His heart sank in sorrow but he did not share his unhappiness with his family or friends. He gave a send off to his friends who could make it to the IIT’s by virtue of their better financial background, motionless however, as his heart bled.

Mr.Murthy joined the National Institute of Engineering, affiliated to the University of Mysore and graduated in electrical engineering in the year 1967 and went on complete his masters in 1969 from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. He also had short term assignments in Softronics and Patni Computer Systems; however the D-day came in the year 1981 when he borrowed Rs.10, 000 from his wife to begin a historic venture called INFOSYS, spelled short for Information Systems, with six other enhthusiastic colleagues. Today the company has risen against all odds to become one of the biggest IT service providers in India and the most sought after IT service provider across the globe.

Above: Narayana Murthy in his yonger days

Addressing shareholders at the 30th Annual General Meeting of Infosys he described Infosys as his ‘middle child’. Addressing share holders, among whom sat people with just 15 shares and those with lakhs Murthy said “I am an average person with many below average attributes, my (little) success story should be a confidence booster for every person so that he or she can make a difference, atleast in a small way, to this world” these words coming from a self-proclaimed common man known for creating uncommon wealth for his shareholders. Infosys, employees through stock options, have benefitted to the extent of $10 Billion as the company distributed 27% of equity among them, the dividend distributed to the shareholders of Infosys amounted to more than $ 1.6 Billion. The market capitalization of Infosys with more than 4.5 lakh shareholders has compounded at the rate of 50% since 1994, making it India’s second most valued technology company. At Infosys he articulated, designed and implemented the Global Delivery Model for IT Services outsourcing from India, he held the position of Chairman of the board from 2002 to 2006 after which he became the non-executive chairman and chief mentor before calling it quits in August 2011 to be designated as Chairman Emeritus. Murthy also serves as an independent director on the corporate boards of HSBC and has served as a director on the boards of DBS bank, Unilever, ICICI and NDTV. As its revenues declined post 2011, Murthy has returned to Infosys as on June 1st 2013 as executive chairman and additional director. He is also a recipient of a number of awards such as the Padma Vibhushan awarded by the Government of India, Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship, Officer of the Legion of Honor awarded by Government of France.

Personal Life

Mr.Murthy, whose net worth is estimated to be nearly $ 1.5 billion as on 2013 is married to Sudha Murthy an Indian social worker and author. They have two children a son Rohan Murthy and daughter Akshata Murthy. Rohan has a Ph.d in Computer Science from Cornwell University and has had fellowships at MIT, Caltech and Microsoft Research.

Decision Making Prowess

His decision making prowess has seen Infosys breaking records and reaching better heights every year, at an Annual General Meeting a young Indian was seen asking many questions mostly pertaining to the books of accounts and financial decisions, embarrassing officials and attracting the crowd, more impressed than irritated he seized the opportunity to hire Mr. Mohandas Pai, who went on to help Infosys list on the NASDAQ.  In 1994, when G.E wanted to re-negotiate rates with Infosys, Murthy plainly rejected that he could not sell his services any cheaper, this helped Infosys not to be overly dependent on any client. In the 1990’s when Infosys was about to shut down, Murthy offered his co founders to buy back their shares, however they declined, as they say the rest is history. 


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