Lakshmi Narayanan, the 53-year-old co-founder and vice-chairman of Cognizant Technology Solutions, has taken over as the chairman of India’s software body Nasscom, and he says his first task will be to strengthen the association.
Narayanan succeeds Ramalinga Raju, the founder and chairman of Satyam Computer Services Ltd.
“Nasscom is a lean organization with around 25 people,” said Narayanan in a telephonic interview. “I am not looking at increasing that number significantly, but I do want to bring in more people at the senior level to add more weightage and experience to the work we do,” he added.
Narayanan, a post-graduate in business administration from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, founded Cognizant in 1994 as a US-headquartered firm which was focused exclusively on leveraging the Indian advantage. He started his career at Tata Consultancy Services, where, he claims, he learnt everything he needed to know about the software industry. Cognizant listed on Nasdaq in 1998.
As Nasscom’s chairman, Narayanan will focus on innovation, security and data protection, and encourage more foreign companies to offshore work or set up their own back offices in India. “I want all the foreign companies to stop their talent hunt with India and not go anywhere else.” He admitted that China was a close competitor but claimed India had better managerial skills and leadership qualities.
The emphasis on security isn’t out of place, said Narayanan. “I don’t want any bad news on the data security front, and though this year has been declared as the year of the broadband, till our roads and communication systems are in place, infrastructure will be a major bottleneck for broadband growth in India.”
Narayanan likes to surf the Internet and reads a lot. He is also passionate about cricket and German-made cars and drives an Opel Vectra. “I love playing with model car toys as well as other toys,” he said. He is also a great believer in the power of the youth. Narayanan lives in Chennai with his wife (she shares his name), a special educator working with the dyslexic.
Nasscom also announced the appointment of Ganesh Natarajan, deputy chairman and managing director, Zensar Technologies Ltd, as vice-chairman.