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N R Narayana Murthy, Co-founder, Infosys

Image: Infosys

Leadership Insights Never give up!

May 25, 2018

"Leadership is about making what seems impossible, possible" — N R Narayana Murthy, Co-founder, Infosys

In India, Information Technology would have never been the way it is now without N R Narayana Murthy. A chief founder of India’s most respected (and one of the largest) IT company Infosys, Murthy is one of the prominent architects of Indian IT sector. Blessed with a brilliant mind and acute business sense, he has successfully led key corporate governance initiatives in India and his lessons have often been sought after by leaders and managers throughout the globe.

As a smart engineering student graduated from a local engineering college, Murthy’s career took a turn while he was working at IIM Ahmedabad. According to him, “The phase I enjoyed the most was my time at IIM Ahmedabad, where I took up a job as chief systems programmer. Back in those days, there were few computer science graduates, so we got five job offers each, with a much higher salary than at IIM. But Prof Krishnayya of IIM, who came to IIT Kanpur, talked to me for an hour about this great, modern mini-computer that he was going to install and that IIM would be the third business school in the world to install a time-sharing system, after Harvard and Stanford.” Murthy opines that taking this job at IIM with a salary of Rs 800 a month was the best decision of his life.

An important change took place, when Murthy and six software professionals founded Infosys in 1981. At Infosys, he articulated, designed and implemented the Global Delivery Model for IT services outsourcing from India. The company became the first listed Indian company with an annual revenue of $1 billion. The credit goes to Murthy for first having the vision to see the opportunity in software, pick the right team and more significantly, keep it together.

It is always a difficult path to start a business and maintain its value forever. When he was asked if he ever, at any point, felt like giving up, he says, “Leadership is about making what seems impossible, possible; about changing the perception of what reality is. The reality in India is dirty roads, pollution, bad traffic, etc. Reality is what we make it; it is for us to change. If you give confidence to people they can achieve tremendous things.”

Murthy is a kind of person who keeps his life simple and straight. That way, he gets to work more and worry less. He believes that pleasure comes from the journey, not the destination. Talking about the future of Infosys, he says, “The fundamental strength will have to be the learnability of experience. That is, how quickly you understand a new paradigm, a new technology and apply it to bring business benefit to customers. As long as learnability is alive and kicking at Infosys, we will have no problems about our future.”

The feature compiles the leadership lessons from industry experts analyzing their journey towards success

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