As he prepared to step down from his role as executive chairman of Infosys, N R Narayana Murthy on Saturday said he had over the past year laid down the bedrock of success at India's second-largest IT services company. Speaking at the company’s 33rd annual general meeting (AGM), Murthy departed from his usual practice of talking about the company’s financials. Instead, he spoke about some ‘important issues’, including the several initiatives he has undertaken over the past year during his second innings at Infosys. He also did not deliver his usual short-and-crisp speech and said he believed he was 'entitled’ to a ‘long speech’.
“When the board of Infosys invited me to come back last June, they wanted me to do two things. First, build a strong foundation for growth, and second, assist them in finding an able CEO to take the company forward,” Murthy said. “Both the tasks I was assigned have been completed.”
Murthy said he was forced to take “hard and tough decisions” as “somehow, the company had diluted its focus on meritocracy and accountability during the last decade”.
Murthy said he had started several ‘strategically critical initiatives’, which if continued, would have the potential to change the DNA of the company for the better. These initiatives included assessment of individual productivity, which Murthy said, was ‘non-trivial and very unique’, and automation in software development, which he said was a ‘silver bullet’ for Infosys and the entire IT services industry. The other initiatives he said were the focus on technology, giving importance to energetic and passionate people, and education.
“We have several other new initiatives that are on the drawing board,” he said. “These range from bringing in a new culture of innovation into the company, expanding our research programme and identifying niche areas of technology where we believe opportunities for the future exist.”
“If continued in the right spirit, I expect them to yield tangible results in the medium to long term,” he said.
Full credit to Rohan
As Murthy concluded his landmark speech, he effusively praised his son Rohan Murty, who worked as his executive assistant over the past year. The remarks came despite the fact that Murthy has been widely criticised for Rohan's appointment, as some proxy advisory firms and shareholders termed it as nepotism.
“Some of you have questioned why I asked Rohan to put his life on hold and come and add value to Infosys,” Murthy said. “Let me tell you what is common to all the initiatives (Infosys has undertaken over the past year). Each and every one of them has been conceived, implemented, and pushed forward by Rohan.”
Infosys has already said that Rohan’s tenure at the company is co-terminus with his father’s and he will leave the company on June 14, 2014.
Jibe at the media
Addressing the over 400 shareholders present at the AGM, Murthy took a dig at some sections of the media for speculating over the several senior-level exits at Infosys as well as other rumours surrounding Murthy’s return to the company last year.
“It is fair that I have your time to describe the realities of what some outsiders and some sections of the media have been commenting based on malicious rumours, unfounded allegations and speculation,” he said.
“There have been several reports in newspapers and TV channels about 12 middle-level and senior people leaving the company... I can say confidently that this company has gone out of its way to retain high performers and has retained them.”
While there were several media reports about the reasons for these exits, Murthy said one of the people who quit in the past year became a consultant with Infosys “due to some unavoidable reasons”, two others were middle-level staff who headed less than 0.5 and 1.0 per cent of the revenue ‘in distant lands’. Some others were evaluated to be low performers by an external evaluation agency or by senior management, he added.
Murthy clarified his stance on speculation over his future role at Infosys despite his scheduled departure. “I want the new CEO to chart his own path to create better glory for Infosys without any interference from the founders, as some people have alleged,” he said.
|NRN MURTHY’S STRAIGHT TALK|