N. R. Narayana Murthy

Nagavara Ramarao Narayana Murthy (born 20 August 1946) is an Indian billionaire businessman. He is the co-founder of Infosys, and has been the chairman, chief executive officer (CEO), president, and chief mentor of the company before retiring and taking the title chairman emeritus.

Murthy was born and raised in ShidlaghattaKarnataka. He graduated from National Institute of EngineeringUniversity of Mysore with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a master’s degree from the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur.

Before starting Infosys, Murthy worked at Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad as the chief systems programmer, and Patni Computer Systems in Pune (Maharashtra). He started Infosys in 1981 and was the CEO from 1981 to 2002 as well as the chairman from 2002 to 2011. In 2011, he stepped down from the board and became the chairman emeritus. In June 2013, Murthy was appointed as the executive chairman for a period of five years.

Murthy has been listed among the 12 greatest entrepreneurs of our time by Fortune magazine. He has been described as the “father of the Indian IT sector” by Time magazine for his contribution to outsourcing in India. Murthy has been honoured with the Padma Vibhushan and Padma Shri awards. He is the father-in-law of Rishi Sunak, the British MP and Chancellor of the Exchequer.

 

Early life and education

Narayana Murthy was born on 20 August 1946 in ShidlaghattaChikkaballapura districtKarnataka into a middle-class Brahmin family. After completing his school education, he went to the National Institute of Engineering and graduated in 1967 with a degree in Electrical Engineering. In 1969 he received his master’s degree from the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur.

Career

Murthy first served as a Research Associate under a faculty at IIM Ahmedabad and then later served as the chief systems programmer. There he worked on India’s first time-sharing computer system and designed and implemented a BASIC interpreter for Electronics Corporation of India Limited. He started a company named Softronics. When that company failed after about a year and a half, he joined Patni Computer Systems in Pune.

Murthy and his six software professionals founded Infosys in 1981 with an initial capital investment of Rs 10,000, which was provided by his wife Sudha Murthy. Murthy served as the CEO of Infosys for 21 years from 1981 to 2002 and was succeeded by co-founder Nandan Nilekani. At Infosys he articulated, designed and implemented the Global Delivery Model for IT services outsourcing from India. He was the chairman of the board from 2002 to 2006, after which he also became the Chief Mentor. In August 2011, he retired from the company, taking the title chairman Emeritus.

Murthy serves as an independent director on the corporate board of HSBC and has served as a director on the boards of DBS BankUnileverICICI and NDTV. He also serves as a member of the advisory boards and councils of several educational and philanthropic institutions, including Cornell UniversityINSEADESSECFord Foundation, the UN Foundation, the Indo-British Partnership, Asian Institute of Management, a trustee of the Infosys Prize, a trustee of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and as a trustee of the Rhodes Trust. He is also the Chairman of the Governing board of Public Health Foundation of India. He serves on the Asia Pacific Advisory Board of British Telecommunications. In 2005 he co-chaired the World Economic Forum in Davos.

On 1st June 2013, Murthy returned to Infosys as the Executive chairman and Additional Director. On 12th June 2014 it was announced that Murthy would step down as the Executive chairman effectively on 14th June. He would continue as the Non-Executive chairman until 10th October. On 11th October, Murthy was to be designated as the chairman Emeritus.

Murthy also serves on the strategic board which advises the national law firm, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, on strategic, policy and governance issues. He is also a member of IESE’s International Advisory Board (IAB).

In 2016, Murthy spoke with Harvard Business Review Ascend on the subject of “How To Be a Better Manager”, where he shared tips that he has learned from his own life.

In 2017, Murthy raised concerns over alleged corporate governance lapses at Infosys, however the company went on to deny these claims.

Personal life

His wife, Sudha Murthy, is a social worker and author, and does philanthropic work through the Infosys Foundation.

Murthy has two children, a son Rohan Murty and a daughter Akshata Murthy. In June 2013, Rohan joined Infosys as an executive assistant to his father. He left Infosys in June 2014. In 2009, Akshata married Rishi Sunak; the UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer and Conservative MP for Richmond, Yorkshire.

Awards and honours

Year Name Awarding organization
2014 CIF Chanchlani Global Indian Award Canada India Foundation
2013 25 Greatest Global Indian Living Legends NDTV
2013 Sayaji Ratna Award Baroda Management Association, Vadodara
2013 Philanthropist of the Year The Asian Awards
2012 Hoover Medal American Society of Mechanical Engineers
2011 NDTV Indian of the Year‘s Icon of India NDTV
2010 IEEE Honorary Membership Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
2009 Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
2008 Padma Vibhushan Government of India
2008 Officer of the Legion of Honor Government of France
2007 Honorary Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) Government of United Kingdom
2007 IEEE Ernst Weber Engineering Leadership Recognition Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
2003 Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur Of The Year Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur of the Year Jury
2000 Padma Shri Government of India

Books

  • A Better India: A Better WorldPenguin Books, 2009 
  • A Clear Blue Sky: Stories and Poems on Conflict and Hope, Puffin Books India, 2017 
  • The Wit and Wisdom of Narayana Murthy, Hay House, 2016 

Further reading

  • N, Chokkan (2007). Narayana Murthy : I.T. guru. Chennai: Oxygen Books.
  • Mitra, Meera (2007). It’s only business! : India’s corporate social responsiveness in a globalized world; with a foreword by N.R. Narayana Murthy. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.