Infosys- A Company with Difference

Many a times even the individuals become the brand of the company they serve. NR Narayan Murthy and Nandan Nilekani have been synonyms of Infosys, and perhaps unofficial ambassadors of India in the world of technology world over. Perhaps after getting out of active roles as the CEOs of Infosys, they are the only two in India who have written two books that have become pretty popular and perhaps best sellers. Nilekani’s ‘Imagining India‘ was voluminous and chalked the history and provided solution for all the important sectors of India. NR Narayan Murthy’s ‘A Better India, A Better World‘ is a recent publication in market. It is a collection of his speeches and will be inspiring for the new entrepreneurs of the country. Infosys has been a company with difference.

As I read a cover story in ‘Business Today’- Indian IT’s Darkest Hour, I feel like rejecting the conclusion outright. Major IT companies of India fortunately have wonderful people in its leadership role. And real good leaders bring a better dawn after the darkest hours. Was it not an achievement of a sort that ‘from 1998 to 2008, IT services have grabbed a 51 per cent market share in the global outsourcing market’?

Coming back to Infosys, according to Reputation Institute (RI), Infosys is among the 17 Indian companies figuring in the list of the ‘World’s Most Reputable Companies’ in 2009.

Infosys is betting big. “We want to be among the three largest IT services companies globally,” declared S. ‘Kris’ Gopalakrishnan, CEO& MD of Infosys recently. Some may doubt because of its cautious approach, but it has history of attaining what it wanted. I had been a fan of the company and its leaders. I really can’t but admire the way the founders rotated as CEOs. Infosys is a benchmark for the sector and others too. Infosys has ‘created an organization that continues to grow as leadership changes’. Smadja Independent non-executive director, Infosys says, “I know of few companies that have taken succession planning as seriously as Infosys.”

I am quoting a portion from NR Narayana Murthy ‘A Better India, A Better World’ that tells how a leader creates wealth for the country.

“On a chilly Saturday morning in winter 1990, five of seven founders of Infosys met in our small office in a leafy Bangalore suburb. The decision at hand was the possible sale of Infosys for the enticing sum of $1 million. After nine years of toil in the then business-unfriendly India, we were quite happy at the prospect of seeing some money at last. I let my younger colleagues talk about their future plans. Discussions about the travails of our journey thus far and our future challenges went on for about four hours. I had not yet spoken a word.

Finally, it was my turn. I spoke of our journey from a small Mumbai apartment in 1981 that had been beset with many challenges, but also about how I believed we were at the darkest hour before the dawn. I then took an audacious step. If they were all bent upon selling the company, I said, I would buy out all my colleagues; though I did not have a cent in my pocket. There was a stunned silence in the room. My colleagues wondered aloud about my foolhardiness. But I remained silent. However, after an hour of my arguments, my colleagues changed their minds to my way of thinking. I urged them that if we wanted to create a great company, we should be optimistic and confident. We have more than lived up to our promises of that day. In the eighteen years since then, Infosys has grown to revenues in excess of $3 billion, a net income of more than $28 billion, 28,000 times richer than the offer of $1 million on that day. In the process, Infosys has created more than 70,000 well-paying jobs, 2,000 plus dollar millionaires and 20,000-plus rupee millionaires.”

I wonder why many more companies could not create so many millionaires. Was it the greed to keep everything for generations in family to follow? If they would have done that, India could have been different today

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