Infosys Founder Puts ‘Fairness’ Above All Else in Career as Legendary Entrepreneur

Infosys founder and former CEO and Chairman Narayana Murthy is a man of countless accomplishments, a legendary entrepreneur and committed philanthropist who is credited with helping to jumpstart an Indian technology boom that revolutionized industries.

Speaking at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business on 12 April, however, Murthy said he hoped his enduring legacy would be acommitment to basic human decency.

“I want a stone on my grave that says:‘This was a fair person,’” Murthy said. “Fairness, to me, in every transaction, is extremely important.”

Indeed, Murthy presented the story of growing Infosys fromsix people and a $1,000 pool of capitalinto a multinational giant at the forefront of an ever-changing sector as a smooth one defined by values and fairness in his public talk with Dean Scott Beardsley in Darden’s Abbott Auditorium. The former CEO saida solid foundation with his supportive family, trusting colleagues and encouraging customers helped him remain positive about the company’s journey from inception to IT giant.

Murthy and Beardsley engaged in a wide-ranging discussion on technology, corporate governance and global affairs as part of the events commemorating the presentation of the 2017 Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Global Innovation, which the Indian entrepreneur formally received on 13 April.

Considered one of the most influential global business leaders in the modern era, Murthy is credited with designing the “global delivery model,” a pioneering information technology approach. Today, the publicly traded consulting and IT company Infosys is one of the largest and most influential technology companies in the world.

The award, which is hosted by Darden and presented by UVA in partnership with the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello, recognizes an individual who embodies Jefferson’s vision of global citizenship and relentless dedication to human progress and innovation.

Coincidentally, Murthy said his father, a high school teacher, would often quote Jefferson when insisting that his children learn to cultivate the courage of their convictions.

Murthycredited his company’s explosive growth in part to an early ingrained valuesystem that fostered “hope and trust” among its stakeholders and ultimatelyhelped the company become one of India’s most-respected companies.

“Goodgovernance is all about maximizing shareholder value while ensuring fairness,transparency and accountability to all stakeholders,” Murthy said, adding thatshared trust inside and outside the company gave Infosys “the enthusiasm toachieve the impossible.” 

A strongproponent of the social responsibilities of corporations, Murthy said everydecision made by corporate leaders should first pass the basic filter of: “Willthis decision of mine enhance respect for my company from society and will thisdecision of mine enhance respect for me from my employees?”

If suchquestions became fundamental to corporate decision-making, society would behappier and healthier, said Murthy, who at one point defined success as “theability to put a smile on the face of people when I enter a room.”

Thecommitment to cultivating goodwill continues at Infosys today, Murthy said,claiming its corporate slogan — “Powered by intellect. Driven by values.” —continues to shape its hiring decisions.

“Anyone whowants a position at Infosys has to demonstrate intellect and values,” Murthysaid. “Nothing else.”

Within thetechnology industry, Murthy looked ahead to a future of opportunity that wasbeing informed by the key trends of increased automation and the consumer demandto access technology-assisted content “anytime, anywhere, on any device.”

Whileautomation presents opportunities for companies at the presumed expense of hugenumbers of employees, Murthy said he believed new solutions would emerge forworkers.

“I am agreat believer in the power of the human mind,” Murthy said. “What appearsimpossible today will be made a convincing possibility because of the humanmind, and we have seen how the human mind has transformed this world from theStone Age to where we are today. I don’t think that’s going to end.”

Murthy isthe second recipient of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in GlobalInnovation, which was presented to Intel co-founder Gordon Moore in 2016. 

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