Bangalore, Aug 19: Having successfully steered Infosys to a place among the top IT companies of the world in the short span of 20 years, N R Narayana Murthy stepped down as Chairman of the company today, albeit with firm indications that he will continue to guide the organisation.
Murthy handed over his role to K V Kamath, who has been an independent director on the Infosys board since May, 2009.
S D Sibulal takes over as the new CEO and MD and S Gopalakrishnan became Executive Co-Chairman of Infosys. Kris Gopalakrishnan, the current CEO of Infosys, who is also a co-founder, has been elevated as the Executive Co-Chairman.
Murthy's exit as the chairman marks the end of a formal association with the company, but he will continue to guide the organisation in the capacity of Chairman Emeritus.
“I would be called Chairman Emeritus. I will have a room which I can use if I want... but as propriety demands, I will have no say in any matter, I will not be allowed to attend any board meetings or any meetings. I can meet anybody personally,” Murthy had said earlier.
Infosys hosted a farewell for Murthy at its campus in Bangalore in the evening, attended by all seven co-founders and prominent former employees, including T V Mohandas Pai and Phaneesh Murthy and Murthy's family. Murthy co-founded Infosys in 1981 in Pune with six other engineers and created thousands of millionaires courtesy its stock option schemes.
Infosys started its operations in a 10x10 room with a capital investment of just Rs 10,000, which was borrowed from Murthy's wife, Sudha Murthy. Now, its revenues have grown to Rs 27,000 crore.
Murthy served as the founder CEO of Infosys for 21 years and was succeeded by co-founder Nandan Nilekani in March, 2002.
Born on August 20, 1946, in Karnataka, Murthy obtained his engineering degree (BE) from the University of Mysore in 1967. He then attended the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT, Kanpur) for his master's degree (M Tech) in 1969. Murthy's vision and business sense made the company go from strength to strength.
In 1993, Infosys got listed in the Indian markets and later became the first Indian company to be listed on the New York-based NASDAQ in 1999. In a testimony to Murthy's impact on the economy, Time magazine had named him among the Indians who are leading the country into its “next six decades”.
“If any one person can be called the father of India's booming IT sector, it's N R Narayana Murthy, who with six other software engineers founded Infosys Technologies in 1981,” Time had said.
Murthy served as the company's CEO for over 20 years between 1981 and 2002 and as the Executive Chairperson of the board from 2002 to 2006.
He retired from his executive position at Infosys on August 20, 2006, after which he has been the non-executive chairman of the board and chief mentor of the company. Murthy has led key corporate governance initiatives in India.
He is an IT adviser to several Asian countries. Besides juggling responsibilities at Infosys and at his venture capital initiative, Catamaran Investment Private Ltd, Murthy also serves on the boards of various entities, including HSBC, the Ford Foundation, Cornell University and Wharton School.
Murthy comes from a humble background and even after becoming a billionaire, he continues to lead a simple life. Murthy had the opportunity to lead a public life, but declined an offer from former Prime Minister A B Vajpayee to join the government. He had then felt Infosys needed him more.
He now wants to focus his energies on mentoring and funding the next generation of Indian entrepreneurs. Murthy's outstanding leadership qualities have been universally recognised and he serves on the boards of some of the world's biggest companies and organisations.
He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the country's second-highest civilian award after the Bharat Ratna, in 2008. Besides, he has also been awarded the Légion d'Honneur by the French government and the Commander of the Order of the British Empire by the British government.
Last month, Murthy gave his nod to become the chief mentor of an IT panel being formed by the West Bengal government to prepare a roadmap for the industry and attract more investment in the sector.
A true barometer of his legacy will be how Infosys fares without him at the helm of affairs once he exits. PTI