A chat with Chief Mentor of Infosys, Mr. Narayana Murthy (10th Sept 2007)

10 09 2007

Infosys Technologies LtdThis is a transcript of a chat session with Chief Metor of Infosys, Mr. Narayanamurthy (10th Sept 2007) on Indiatimes Chat.

Infosys Technologies Limited (BSE: 500209, NASDAQINFY) is a multinational information technology services company headquartered in Bangalore, India. It operates nine development centers in India and has over 30 offices worldwide. Infosys’ annual revenues for the fiscal year 2006-2007 exceeded US$3.1 billion with a market capitalization of over US$30 billion. Infosys’ income was at Rs. 3,773 crore ($920 million) and net profit was at Rs. 1,079 crore ($263 million) for the quarter ended June 30, 2007. Infosys and its subsidiaries employ over 75,971 professionals (as of June 30, 2007) worldwide and it is one of India’s largest IT companies.

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Q : Respected Mr Murthy, during the end of the 90’s how did you market your software and services abroad? I assume during that time neither India nor Infosys was popular in the West as a reliable IT resource. What was the strategy that you adopted?

Mr. Narayana Murthy:  We kept in mind that we were starting out. So we did not have any big plans in mind. That is how we managed to keep it going

Q : Don’t you think we are taking China and other emerging nations too lightly as far as IT sector is concerned? Should we need to take steps that will continue to lure foreign companies to India?

Mr. Narayana Murthy:  I believe we should take every one of our competitors and potential competitors seriously. This we can do by enhancing our infrastructure including the education infrastructure and creating an environment of warmth for our customers and prospects.

Q: By recruiting talent who are not necessarily from IT background by attracting them with good salary packages, don’t you think the IT sector is weaning rest of the industry sectors from much required resource supply?

Mr. Narayana Murthy:  Yes, I agree with you. However, the solution is to produce more and more engineers in every sector of the economy so that there will be enough talent not just for IT, but all other branches of engineering

Q: Sir, I agree that, as a Software Service Provider like Infosys, you have compulsion with the clients you are working with for not to develop products competing with the clients. But, How long one can run a service company. Is it not a good idea to have a product which can be proudly labelled as “Made in India” or “Made by Infosys”. What is holding back you or any software services industry.

Mr. Narayana Murthy:  We already have Finacle. The no 1 banking product in India. This has been installed in 35 Plus countries. As we move forward, based on our preparedness, we will definitely look at your suggestions for products in other areas.

Q: Respected sir my question is that if someone is having enough knowledge of sales and marketing is it necessary having an MBA degree for having a job in a reputed form like Infosys..?

Mr. Narayana Murthy:  Not necessary. In fact, out of the 70,000 or so employees at Infosys, not more than 7,000 would be MBAs

Q: Hello Sir, Software majors like Infosys are recruiting thousands of people every year . Don’t you feel, with such a large workforce, there is a fear of stagnation as far as career of an individual is concerned. Also due to the number of people leaving the company every year , which is not ideal

Mr. Narayana Murthy:  We recruit people based on the market needs and our ability to sustain productive employment for these people for a certain number of years. While attrition is clearly an issue, I accept the dream and aspiration of every young man and woman to better their prospects wherever they want. every person that has been an Infoscion even for a short period will always remain our friend and is most welcome to come back or visit us for a lunch or a coffee.

Q: Hello Sir, Software major like Infosys are recruiting thousands of people every year . Don’t you feel, with such a large workforce, there is a fear of stagnation as far as career of an individual is concerned. Also due to the number of people leaving the company every year , which is not ideal

Mr. Narayana Murthy:  We recruit people based on the market needs and our ability to sustain productive employment for these people for a certain number of years. While attrition is clearly an issue, I accept the dream and aspiration of every young man and woman to better their prospects wherever they want. every person that has been an Infoscion even for a short period will always remain our friend.

Q: You took 26 years to built a company like Infosys what it now. What should I do to build a company like this in 8 to 10 years time.

Mr. Narayana Murthy:  Work harder, smarter and have solutions that have better business value to the customer than we did.

Q: Hello sir…I m student of textile engineering and want to switch 2 software…what d u advise me 2 do????

Ans : As long as you have algorithmic thinking and are strong in logic, you can always become a good software engineer.

Q : Which is your favourite author ? Any book you consider crucial in your success?

Mr. Narayana Murthy:  I read popular physics and popular mathematics for my recreational purposes. Clearly, Feynman lectures trilogy is my favourite book. I frankly can’t think of any book that I can point to as my business experience.

Q : Among new entrepreneurs who have impresses you

Ans : Certainly I think Sunil Mittal, then Kishore Biyani, the founders of Onmobile, have all impressed me.

Q : Respected sir, please define the vision of India for coming five years on economic front?

Ans : Our challenge will have to be to provide basic education, healthcare, nutrition and shelter to every Indian child.

Q: Dear Sir, I am a 4th year student at IIT Kanpur in the Computer Science Department. Many here believe Indian Industry requires only technicians and not IITians. DO you think Indian industry requires IITians? Where and as who?

Ans : In Infosys we believe that software engineering is extremely crucial to our success. Hence, IITians are very important for the success of this industry.

Q: Hi, I am the owner of a small technology firms, whets the best way to grow on in business when you have limited resources and maximum opportunities and how one can balance all of this to build a sustainable growth part.?

Ans : Focus on an idea that is simple in business value to the customer, create a team of complementary strengths and common value system and make sure that you work hard and smart.

Q : Dear Sir, What measure do you suggest to improve the quality of Software engineers (freshers)?.Since quite a few times it is said that the freshers are not upto the mark

Ans : Focus on algorithmic thinking, generic learnability, discipline and hard work

Q : Dear Mr Murthy, A lot has been written and said about the success of Infosys. I am sure there would have been incidents and obstacles, Infosys as a company and you as one of the founder members would have faced. Can you please share one such incident?

Mr. Narayana Murthy:  It took us more than a year to get a telephone connection in 1982 and we lost a huge project because of that.

Q : Do you think, by any means, that the corruption in India can be lowered down in near future?

Mr. Narayana Murthy:  Only if we have enhance transparency and if we our leaders lead by example.

Q : Mr Murthy, can you please write an article informing people how to raise kids? I want my daughter to be good in whatever she does but then your experience will be very valuable to raise her.

Mr. Narayana Murthy:  Probably, my wife should write it since she has been responsible for raising both the kids with a good value system.

Q : India is officially, centrally known as IT centre of world. Why doesn’t India invest in creative fields like MEMS, semiconductor which need good brains (which we already have) and which will add thousands of opportunities to upcoming talent in India.

Mr. Narayana Murthy:  I have discussed this issue with Dr Murli Manohar Joshi as well as with Dr Manmohan Singh. It is our PM who has to take this decision.

Q : Dear Sir. I am very happy to see you in the forum. You are the role module of young people. My question is “what are the steps do u taken to bring rural educated people to come main stream. They have all the quality except English. so what your steps to comedown this problem.

Mr. Narayana Murthy:  I am very happy that Karnataka government has started a finishing school for qualified candidates who are weak in English. Similarly, Infosys has conducted special camps for rural youngsters to help them with English. We have to scale this up.

Q : Dear NRN, 1. How do you see Infosys growing from where it is currently with the change in leadership? With a management structure in place along with business units across key vertical and IBUs, what do you see would be the role of the CEO, COO, CFO, CHRO

Mr. Narayana Murthy:  As we move forward, there will be more and more decentralisation of power and each IBU should be run as an independent unit with its own balance sheet and P

Q : what will be the next big revolution just as IT

Mr. Narayana Murthy:  I believe it will be clearly Bio-technology, nano-technology and embedded systems as applied to appliance computing.

Q : In Infosys, What do you do when you have to make a hard decision?

Mr. Narayana Murthy:  We sit, discuss and debate for a fixed amount of time and then the leader takes the decision after considering all points of view.

Q : what’s your opinion on e governance

Mr. Narayana Murthy:  E governance is extremely important for a poor country like India since it enhances transparency, reduced corruption, improves efficiency of governmental services.

Q : When compared to other industries why are It people paid more?

Mr. Narayana Murthy:  In the free market philosophy, whoever demand exceed supply, prices go up. That is the reason.

Q : CAN YOU PLEASE ANSWER MY QUESTION ON HOW YOU STARTED INFOSYS?

Mr. Narayana Murthy:  I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur ever since I spent some time in Europe. So, in December 1980, I decided to take a plunge and that is when one of my colleagues wanted to join me and I invited 5 other youngsters. That is how Infosys was born.

Q : Will opening offices in China by some Indian IT companies, affect the progress of India?

Mr. Narayana Murthy:  Not really, because, at this point of time, the market opportunity is enough to leverage the talent of both India and China.

Q : Respected Sir, in your opinion what was Infosys’s greatest moment till date?

Mr. Narayana Murthy:  There are many, like getting listed on NASDAQ as the first Indian company, our first customer, our first campus, initiating our stock option plan, etc.

Q : How can senior IT professionals , opting for VRS , contribute for upliftment of IT in India?

Mr. Narayana Murthy:  By participating in enhancing IT literacy in their own cities or towns, particularly for children from the poorer sections of society.

Q : Many of highly talented Indian engineers are going abroad for better jobs. What can be done to retain them in India?

Mr. Narayana Murthy:  First of all, I believe that a certain percentage of our youngsters must go abroad, contribute to those societies and conduct themselves as model citizens of those societies. This will enhance the image of India. On the issue of attracting them back, we have to create an environment where it is easy for them to commute to their offices. It is easy for them to send their children to good schools and it is easy for them to lead a decent quality of life.

Q : Was there any time in life when you felt that you will not be able to achieve your goal ??

Mr. Narayana Murthy:  There have been many times. For example, when we were refused loan to import a computer, when it would take us 12 to 14 days to get permission to travel abroad, when we could not get telephone lines even after a year and lost a huge project, etc.

Q : Mr. Narayan Murthy, when you along with a handful of your colleagues started work in one small house in Koramangla did you have any idea or confidence that one day you would attain and achieve what you have achieved today for yourself and the county.

Mr. Narayana Murthy:  Not really. However, right from day one, we focussed on receiving more and more respect from everyone of the stake holders. I believe that we are moving along reasonably well on that target.

Q : do you think that the demand for IT still remain for at least 20 years

Mr. Narayana Murthy:  I believe that the world is still in its early stage in leveraging the power of IT, particularly when you consider two thirds the population of this world (in the developing world) has not at all leveraged the power of IT.

Q : How would you explain the wide divide(in basic facilities available, like roads/education/electricity etc) that exists between urban and rural areas or even between states in India when if you see countries like US, even the smallest of village at least has basic amenities?

Mr. Narayana Murthy:  It is just that in a developing country like India, our resources are limited and we have used outdated ideas and shibboleths. The day our leaders realise the importance of entrepreneurship and creation of jobs, and the power of entrepreneurship in creating infrastructure, I believe we will sort this problem.

Q : what is your opinion on the sustainability of the GDP growth in India and what is the perceived contribution from IT Sector

Mr. Narayana Murthy:  I believe that we can continue to grow at 9 to 10 per cent for at least 20 years since China has done it for the last 20 years. At this point of time, the IT sector contributes about 4 to 5 per cent of the GDP. I believe that we can take it to about 10 per cent if we work hard.

Q : You took 26 years to built a company like Infosys what it now. What should I do to build a company like this in 8 to 10 years time. To make this possible I need more input (tips) from you sir.

Mr. Narayana Murthy:  Openness to new ideas, meritocracy, speed, imagination and excellence in execution will help you progress faster than Infosys.

Q : Do you hate people who make spelling mistakes

Mr. Narayana Murthy:  I do, however, I am not used to typing so fast.

Q : Driven by values is your slogan. What are these values????

Mr. Narayana Murthy:  Focus on the customer, leadership by example, integrity and transparency, fairness and excellence in execution.

Q : am a fresher……should I get experience to become an entrepreneur

Mr. Narayana Murthy:  If you have a clear idea which adds business value to the market, then you don’t need an experience because entrepreneurship is all about a powerful idea, a team with complementary strengths, an enduring value system, passion, commitment and sacrifice and finally a great dream.

Q : Sir, who thought of the name Infosys… and Why Infosys??

Mr. Narayana Murthy:  I must confess that I thought of the name Infosys. Infosys is the acronym for Information Systems, which is our business.

Q : Dear Sir, Your opinion on software professionals who are changing companies very often for better position/Increment in their salary/Higher role etc?

Mr. Narayana Murthy:  I believe that it is the right of every individual to choose the organisation that he or she wants to work for.

Q : Sir – Do you see any mergers/consolidations happening between the various Indian IT services and Solution companies in near future?

Mr. Narayana Murthy:  I do not have a crystal ball. However, it is difficult to imagine the big 3 coming together.

Q : Sir, what did you mean when you recently said that we need to boost productivity to cut the losses that IT companies are incurring because of the appreciating rupee?

Mr. Narayana Murthy:  What I meant was we have to enhance our work productivity, which means we have to increase our revenues with the same number of staff by doing more work in the same time period.

Q : What is your advice to women entrepreneurs in the IT industry?

Mr. Narayana Murthy:  I believe that we in India have to encourage women entrepreneurs much more than we have done. This requires policies that are beneficial to women and that help women become entrepreneurs while discharging important duties as mothers.

Q : How much of a threat is rupee appreciation vis-a-vis dollar in the long term for IT industry in India?

Mr. Narayana Murthy:  I do not believe in the Dollar Rupee exchange rate as a threat because this is a macroeconomic factor and no individual company can control it. Why worry about an issue over which we have no control, while we have hundreds of issues that we have to solve and over which we have control.

Q : What is your opinion on H1B visa limit for Indian candidates?

Mr. Narayana Murthy:  This is an issue on which only the US government and the citizens of US can comment. We, the Indian companies have to grow our businesses successfully while operating under whatever constraints exist in our market place.

Mr. Narayana Murthy:  Folks, it has been wonderful participating in this chat. I am extremely grateful to all of you and to my friend Mr Rajesh Kalra for this extraordinary opportunity. I will sign off now. Thank you.

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3 responses

12 03 2008
sivashankar

Respected sir,

Respected sir,
first of all congratulations to you selected for udrowilson award. sir,you are my guide,redeemer and pioneer to me.my name is siva shankar.i completed my M.sc(computers) from s.k.university.i was born in poor bramhins family.
sir iam also searching job in your company.To day i saw news paper in your message.that,s why iam telling congratulations to you.Eventually ,sir you
are my venerable preceptor,preacher,teacher and my god father also.thanks,
yours faithfilly,
shankar

31 08 2009
Amol

Great post and real great thoughts by Murthy.
Thanks for sharing.

28 12 2010
sowmya

hello sir,its nice pleasure to comment on your post your are a amazing man i have ever seen.Iam praying to god to give all success in your life.

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