Thursday, 28 August 2014

What I Learnt from Mr. Narayana Murthy

I recently watched a video of Mr. N. R. Narayana Murthy (Executive Chairman and Co-founder Infosys) by Boman Irani (Bollywood actor). In this interview, I learnt how his philosophy had influenced and shaped his personal and professional life. Mr. Murthy appeared straight forward and expert in decision making, in his own words, “I'm a capitalist in mind, a socialist at heart — a compassionate capitalist”. His childhood was mostly influenced by his father’s ideology.  He has very simple habits which do not require luxurious expenditure viz. reading books, meeting good people and listening to music.
He cleared IIT entrance exam but was unable to  join the college as his father couldn’t afford to bear the educational expenses with a nominal salary of Rs. 250 per month. His father told him that, “If you’re smart you can go to any college and be able to do something worthwhile” and thus he joined the local engineering college.  After graduation, he did his masters at IIT Kanpur. After that companies like HMT, ECIL, Telco Systems, Air India offered him jobs with good salaries, but he took up an unconventional job at IIM Ahmadabad with a meager salary of 800 rupees per month based on the advice by his Professor Krishnayya. He said that if he had become an IAS officer then his father would have been very happy but his own concept of success in life was very different. In his job he worked on many projects in India and abroad. He compared innovative strategies of developed countries with India. He wrote many letters to his friends and relatives, the ample choices in technology that the world offered and could shape the Indian economy.
He was in a border town between the then Yugoslavia and Bulgaria to take the Sofia Express and struck up conversation with a girl in the compartment. After about 45 minutes the train stopped, the police took the girl away and incarcerated him in a room. They kept him there for 60 hours after which they freed him saying that since he belonged to a friendly country India, they were letting him go. He felt that if this system treats friends this way then he did not want to be a part of it. This experience made him realize that the creation of jobs alone can alleviate the poverty in India. The Government alone cannot end poverty in India its mandate should be to create the required environment for entrepreneurs to flourish. Innovative ideas of investing wealth give the fruits of job creation with profits.
He founded Infosys in 1981 with an initial investment of Rs. 10,000/- only, along with 6 of his colleagues from Patni Computer Systems. Before the company’s incorporation, all 7 of them were discussing the company’s vision and against the general perception of earning high revenues, profitability, etc. Mr. Murthy suggested that the company’s vision should be to become the most respected company. This reason was sighted, because if the company is respectable profits, revenues are nothing but its by products. Initially he struggled a lot in order to get approval of some 20 to 30 licenses for importing a computer to India. It took him two and a half years to install a computer in his company, but still he never lost hope and was determined to see the company flourish. He sent his colleagues abroad in order to focus mainly on clients outside India. In the blade edge journey, when there was no support from the Indian government to cultivate entrepreneurship in the country  an MNC came forward to buy Infosys with a reasonable amount. He put up an emotional bluff, seeing the despondency in the eyes of his colleagues saying, “I know it’s going to be tough in this country but I have no doubt that we’ll see light”. His vision succeeded and after that Infosys became a world famous company. I remember here that, ”Success is constructed by the bricks of failure.”
He defined the word money saying, “Uptil certain point money makes our lives comfortable and luxurious, but at a deeper level the power of money is the ability to give it away.” He suggested to the future entrepreneurs that they be honest and posses the highest ethical integrity. He quoted Yogi Berra, “Why is it, as I work harder, harder and harder; I seem to get luckier, luckier and luckier”.

Regarding his retirement he accepted that age affects understanding and with lesser energy levels.  He remembered his wife Sudha’s sacrifices for his achievements. Sudha Murthy mentioned his simplicity and honesty won her heart. He gave firm voice against corruption which according to him erodes 2% GDP of our nation.

His greatest achievement in life according to him is that he along with 6 of his colleagues who are ordinary in all respects through, sincerity, hard work and determination have created numerous employments for Indians, have raised the country’s image outside India and it is something which anyone can achieve.

Mr. Narayana Murthy has performed different roles in his life with dedication. He agreed about his limitations and proved his own expectations. Even at the age of 65 years he has taken up the challenge of managing the company once again. In his younger days he worked from 7am to 3am and now he has been working from 6 am to 9 pm for the sake of the company. He covered many milestones in business? I still remember in his interview he told George Bernard Shaw’s quotation “You see things and say why? But I dream things that never were and I say why not?” So friends we should try our level best to fulfill our visions to inculcate manliness and happiness and a feeling of fulfillment in our lives.

- Sankalp Wadhwa
sankalp.wadhwa@cwcindia.in

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