Bangalore: Infosys bid an emotional farewell to their iconic chairman N.R. Narayana Murthy on Friday night, a day before his 65th birthday on Saturday and officially his last working day, with co-founders S.D. Shibulal and Kris Gopalakrishnan, and incumbent chairman K.V. Kamath, among others, paying rich tributes to the man they all described as friend, teacher, philosopher, mentor and visionary extraordinary.
Board member Deepak Satwalekhar perhaps summed it up best by describing him as a man who “excelled in the long version of the game”, stressing the qualities of character, integrity, vision, and committed work ethic needed to sustain extraordinary goals over a long period of time.
In a recorded video message, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates congratulated him and said that he was looking forward to the work Murthy would do with him on philanthropic missions.
“We are here to take your legacy forward. If it is ‘stretch goals’ that you want, I am happy to take that on my shoulders, and I will be in the front, at the back and in the middle of that,” Kamath said.
Son Rohan Murthy was among those who went up on stage to pay tribute to his father and thanked Infosys employees past and present for giving Murthy an idea and a dream to come to work to everyday, with characteristic passion and commitment. “He had two passions. One was my mother, and the other Infosys. It is only as an adult that I understood what it means to have an idea consume you,” he said.
Declaring that the only use of the past and of history was in the lessons that one could draw from them, Murthy laid out a list of precepts for Infosys leaders and employees to follow. “Take Infosys from $6 billion (in annual revenue) to $60 billion and whatever you want,” he exhorted them. “Even $600 billion is not impossible.”
The lessons he laid out centred around leadership, fast and sound decision making, and character, which he described as the quality that “leverages the power of human thinking.”
Ultimately, performance was important, as performance led to recognition and respect, and ultimately power, he said.
“Think of the world first. Then your country, and then your company. Last yourself. Putting the interests of your company before that of yourself in your decisions is what will benefit all of us in the end,” he said.
Gopalakrishnan and Shibulal presented him with a blazer conferring on him the status of chairman emeritus.
Shibulal takes over as CEO, while Gopalakrishnan becomes vice-chairman of the board.