Nandan Nilekani says he is ‘last joker left’ at Infosys; Murthy admits this big mistake he made

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DECEMBER 15, 2022

Narayana Murthy, in response to a question about succession plans, rued that his earlier decision to not allow the children of Infosys founders or the next generation of promoters to work at the company was “completely wrong”.

Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani on Thursday called himself ‘last of the jokers left’ at Infosys at an event in Bengaluru that commemorated the four decades of the IT giant. When asked about the role that he would play at Infosys in the future, Nilekani said he would be handing over his role to a non-founder when he exits the company. “I am the last of the jokers (founders) left,” said Nilekani. The Infosys non-executive chairman said that his challenge is a little more acute. “I have some founder’s clout. But I would be handing over to a chairman at whatever point I would exit from the scene and that (person) would be a non-founder. If you hand over to somebody and it doesn’t work out, there is no Plan B; I can’t come back at the age of 75,” he said.

Nilekani said when he leaves the company, he will ensure that he implements Narayana Murthy‘s vision of putting in place the leadership structure and people with the right values. While Nilekani did not specify when he will exit the company, he said he will be with the company for “as long as required”, but certainly would not be around till the 50th anniversary of the company. Infosys was started by seven engineers Narayana Murthy, Nandan Nilekani, Kris Gopalakrishnan, K Dinesh, SD Shibulal, NS Raghavan, and Ashok Arora. Of these, Murthy, Gopalakrishnan, Shibulal, and Dinesh along with Nilekani were present at the event.

I was wrong in not allowing next gen at Infosys: Murthy

Murthy, in response to a question about succession plans, rued that his earlier decision to not allow the children of Infosys founders or the next generation of promoters to work at the company was “completely wrong”. “I think I was depriving this organisation of legitimate talent. I take back whatever I said. I think that every individual must have the same opportunity as every other individual if he or she is considered the best person for the role,” Murthy said. He continues to hold a minority stake in Infosys. With a net worth of $3.5 billion (Rs 25.5 thousand crore), Murthy is one of the richest people in India.

Talking about the company’s policy of keeping family members of the company’s founders away from leadership positions Murthy said he embraced that idea initially because he “was afraid that some people may bring undeserving candidates and put them in positions”, adding that he wanted the future of the company to be strong. However, the industry veteran changed his stance and said, “I was completely wrong, I take back that. I admit I was wrong. Today, my view is that you should not worry about what nationality, what heritage, or whose son or daughter you are, as long as you have the best competence for a position. But, you have to go through the proper process of maturing in the organisation before being given a suitable position or responsibility.”

What happened since 2017 is truly extraordinary

Murthy also praised Nilekani and Infosys CEO Salil Parekh, saying they deserve credit and gratitude for turning around the company’s trajectory post 2017. “I thank Nandan Nilekani and Salil Parekh for reviving the company in 2017 and accelerating growth for the last five years. What has happened between 2017 and today is truly extraordinary. We all have been watching it with admiration and are all so proud of what these two have achieved,” Murthy said at the company’s 40th anniversary.


Courtesy/Source: The Financial Express