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How Infosys Started ? N.R.Narayana Murthy Biography

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One of the brilliant minds behind the founding of the Indian multinational corporation Infosys Ltd., N. R. Narayana Murthy, is an industrialist counted amongst the greatest Indian industrialists of the contemporary time. Infosys is a major IT company which provides business consulting, information technology and outsourcing services, and Murthy has played a tremendous role in ensuring its success. From an early age, Murthy displayed signs of greatness and received his education from one of the top technological institutions in India. Before venturing to become an entrepreneur he had worked with Patni Computer Systems in Pune.

He had always dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur and hoped to form a big company which would create job opportunities for the country’s youngsters. Blessed with a brilliant mind and astute business sense, he formed Infosys with six other software professionals including Nandan Nilekani and N. S. Raghavan with an initial capital of just Rs. 10, 000. Over the years the company grew manifold to become one of the top IT services companies based in India. His company’s contribution to the growth of the IT sector in India has been immense and the ‘Time’ magazine described him as the “Father of Indian IT Sector”. He has been honored with several awards for his contribution to the Indian industrial sector.

Narayana Murthy’s Personal Background

N. R. Narayana Murthy was born in a ‘Kannada Madhwa Brahmin’ family in Mysore. He has eight brothers and a sister. Murthy’s father was a school teacher.

Narayana was born into a middle-class family in Mysore. Since his father was a high-school teacher, the financial conditions of the family were not that good.

Narayana attended a government school and pursued his B.E degree from the University of Mysore and masters from IIT, Kanpur.

Narayana is married to Sudha Murthy, who too is an engineer, an Indian social worker, and an accomplished author.

Narayana’s wife being a philanthropist, he too believes in philanthropy. Murthy comes across as a very social and friendly man. He always raises his voice for various social issues in the country such as elections, unemployment, poverty etc. He is a cooperative and a good-natured person and manages his company quite well. The recent news of him quitting Infosys has been keeping him in the headlines.

Childhood & Early Life

  • He was born on 20 August 1946, in Sidlaghatta, Karnataka, in a middle-class family.

  • His uncle was a civil servant and Narayana’s father wanted him to follow the same route. But the young boy had other plans; he wanted to be an engineer as that was the “in” thing in India in those days.

  • He appeared for the entrance test for the India Institute of Technology (IIT) after completing his schooling and cleared it with a high rank and a scholarship. However the scholarship was not enough to completely cover his educational expenses and his father could not afford to pay the fees.

  • On his father’s advice, he joined a local engineering college, the National Institute of Engineering and graduated in 1967 with a degree in Electrical Engineering.

  • He then went to the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur and earned his master’s degree in 1969. While at the IIT he had a chance meeting with a famous computer scientist from the US and was thoroughly impressed by the scientist’s talks. This influenced Narayana to pursue a career in the IT sector in the future.

  • He was flooded with job offers on completion of his course as at that time there were just a few computer science graduates in India. He had job offers from HMT, Telco and Air India, all of them offering high salaries.

  • However, he rejected all these offers to take up a job in India Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad, when one of the IIM’s professors personally came to talk to the bright young man about an interesting job opportunity at the institute.

Narayana Murthy’s Career

  • Narayana started his career as a chief system programmer at IIM Ahmedabad where he implemented the BASIC interpreter for ECIL (Electronics Corporation of India Limited).
  • Later, he joined Patni Computer Systems, Pune. Prior to moving to Mumbai, he met his wife, Sudha, who too was an engineer.
  • In 1981, Narayana founded Infosys with six people with an initial capital of US$250, the maximum share of which was borrowed from his wife. Narayana served as the CEO of Infosys for 21 years and later was succeeded by co-founder Nandan Nilekani in March 2002.
  • Infosys became the first company to be listed in NASDAQ, in 1991.
  • In 1996, it started its office in Europe, Milton Keynes, UK.
  • In 2002, it was selected as the “India’s Most Respected Company” by the Business World Survey.
  • He took up the position of a chief systems programmer at the IIM, Ahmedabad. There he worked on installing a time-sharing computer system—India’s first, making IIM the third business school in the world to install a time-sharing system after Harvard and Stanford.

  • The work at the IIM was hectic but extremely fulfilling. He used to work 20 hours a day and learned a lot. Even today Murthy feels that joining the IIM was the best decision he had ever made in his professional life.

  • He worked overseas in the 1970s, and the years he spent in Paris had a deep influence on him. Initially, a staunch leftist who supported Communism, he eventually changed his views and concluded that compassionate capitalism and the large-scale creation of jobs was the only practical method of eradicating poverty.

  • He learned a lot from the western countries but ultimately wanted to settle in India and start a company in his homeland. He started a company called Softronics which failed after just a year and a half. So he joined Patni Computer Systems in Pune.

  • Eventually, he decided to become an entrepreneur again and teamed up with six other software professionals to found another company, “Infosys Consultants Pvt Ltd.” (now known as Infosys Ltd.) with a capital of Rs. 10,000 in Pune in 1981. The company’s headquarters was shifted from Pune to Bangalore in 1983.

  • Murthy became the CEO of Infosys and served in this position from 1981. In 2002, co-founder Nandan Nilekani succeeded him as the chairman.

  • He became the Chairman of the Board in 2002 and the Chief Mentor in 2006. He retired from the company in August 2011, taking the title Chairman Emeritus.

  • He has served as a director on the boards of DBS Bank, Unilever, and ICICI. He is a philanthropic and serves on the advisory boards and councils of several institutions like Cornell University, Ford Foundation, the UN Foundation, and the Indo-British Partnership.

  • The performance of Infosys suffered in his absence and thus he returned to the company as Executive Chairman and Additional Director in June 2013. He stepped down as the Executive Chairman in June 2014. 


Major Works

  • Murthy is best known as one of the co-founders of Infosys Ltd., one of India’s largest IT services company with offices all across the globe.

  • Under his leadership, Infosys became the first Indian company to be listed on the Nasdaq. It also became the first listed Indian company with revenue of $1 billion a year.


Awards and Achievements

Being the 33rd richest man in India, he has a net worth of US $1.8 Billion. He has won a number of awards, following are some of them:

  • The Asiaweek magazine counted him in the 50 top most powerful men in the year 2000.
  • He was honored with the Padma shree award by the President of India.
  • In 2001, he was awarded the Wharton school’s Dean Medal, University of Pennsylvania.
  • Narayana was also honored with the title ‘Asia’s Businessman of the year’ by Fortune magazine in 2003.
  • In 2008 he was honored with the Padma Vibhushan by the President of India.
  • He is associated with important and prestigious organizations. He is the member of the Board of Directors of INSEAD, the Board of Oversees of the Wharton School Of the University of Pennsylvania, the Board of Members of School of Management at Asian Institute of Technology.
  • He also serves as a Director of the Central Board of the Reserve Bank of India.


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