In his last address to company shareholders as executive chairman of the company he co-founded 33 years ago, N.R. Narayana Murthy defended the initiatives the company undertook, including the much-criticised 11 top-level exits, over the past year.
He presented a strong defence of the decision to let go most of these employees, emphasising that some of them were low performers. Mr. Murthy said: “Somehow the company had diluted its focus on meritocracy and accountability during the last decade. Therefore, I set about identifying hidden jewels in the company and giving them opportunity to lead in its resurrection and identifying not-so-well performing people,” he said, adding that these decisions were approved by senior management.
Vishal Sikka, the first non-founder CEO of the company, was not at the AGM as he was travelling back to his home in California, sources said. While wishing him luck, the exiting chairman underlined the fact that he wishes Mr. Sikka will “chart his own path to create better glory for Infosys, without interference from the founders.” Several shareholders appealed, some emotionally, to Mr. Murthy to stay involved and tuned in to the future of Infosys. However, he rejected the idea and said that he believed in the “able team that is in-charge”. He also said that he had completed his twin mandate of setting things right at the company and of helping find a new CEO.
Mr. Murthy detailed the many “bold initiatives” that his team led the company to invest in, that would yield results in the mid or long-term timeframe. These included streamlining to measure the productivity of each individual (using software to track how productive an employee is across various service lines) and automation of software development. Both initiatives are what the Indian IT industry currently lacks and needs to be able to get to the next level, he said. The AGM was marked by several long farewell speeches as many senior board members are slated to retire. Other key decisions to be ratified at the AGM included the hiving off of the products and platforms subsidiary, Edgeverve.
Credits Rohan with second stint achievements
After listing out a series of initiatives that Infosys has undertaken in the past one year since he returned, exiting executive chairman N.R. Narayana Murthy credited his son Rohan Murthy with all the success. Addressing shareholders at the AGM as last chairman, Mr. Murthy said that all the initiatives of the past year, centred around meritocracy and technology, were all “conceived, implemented and pushed forward by Rohan”. “When the board requested me to come back, I knew I needed somebody by my side who is intelligent, smart and new to the industry to the point he/she would not accept status quo. This was my charge to Rohan—to bring fresh perspectives from his world, think from the left field and not accept status quo,” he said.
Mr. Murthy was making a point to those—including large sections of experts, industry watchers and the media —who have criticised the younger Murthy's induction as a U-turn on previously espoused principles of corporate governance.