Nandan Nilekani

Nandan Nilekani (born 2 June 1955) is an Indian entrepreneur. He co-founded Infosys and is the non-executive chairman of Infosys replacing R Seshasayee and Ravi Venkatesan, who were the co-chairs of the board, on 24 August 2017. After the exit of Vishal Sikka, Nilekani was appointed as non-executive chairman of the board effective 24 August 2017. He was the chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). After a successful career at Infosys, he headed the Government of India’s technology committee, TAGUP. He is a member of Indian National Congress but not active in politics as of 2019.

Early life

Nandan Nilekani was born on 2 June 1955 at Bangalore, Karnataka. His parents Durga and Mohan Rao Nilekani are from Konkani Goud Saraswat Brahmin community originally from Sirsi town in Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka. His father worked as a general manager of Mysore and Minerva Mills and subscribed to Fabian Socialist ideals that influenced Nilekani in his early years. Nilekani’s elder brother, Vijay, works in the Nuclear Energy Institute in the USA.

Nilekani studied at the Bishop Cotton Boys’ School and St. Joseph High School Dharwad, Karnataka PU College Dharwad and received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology BombayMumbai.

Career

Information technology

In 1978 he started his career at the Mumbai-based Patni Computer Systems, where he met and was interviewed by N.R. Narayana Murthy. In 1981, Nilekani, Murthy, and five others left Patni to start their own company, Infosys. Nilekani became the chief executive officer of Infosys in March 2002 and served as CEO of the company through April 2007, when he relinquished his position to his colleague Kris Gopalakrishnan and became co-chairman of the board of directors. Before assuming leadership as CEO in 2002, Nilekani held various posts, including managing director, president, and chief operating officer. He served as its CEO from March 2002 to April 2007. During his five-year tenure as CEO, Infosys’ topline grew sixfold to $3 billion.

In 2017 he returned to Infosys after the exit of CEO Vishal Sikka to become a chairman. Upon his return he changed power centre from California back to its Bengaluru headquarters. Also, such people as R. Seshasayee (a chairman and board director), Ravi Venkatesan (a co-chairman), Sikka (executive vice chairman and director), and Jeffrey Lehman and John Etchemendy (directors) resigned from their posts.

 

Investments

Nilekani is also a serial investor and he has invested in around 12 start-ups till date which includes: ShopX, Juggernaut, Mubble Networks, Fortigo, P2SME, RailYatri, Axiom Consulting, Systemantics India, Sedemac Mechatronics, Disha Medical Services, Tracxn, LetsVenture and TravelTriangle.

Charity

In 2017 Nandan and wife Rohini decided to donate 50 percent of their wealth to Giving Pledge, which is a movement organized by Bill Gates. The reason why they joined this movement was as following: “We see inequality is increasing sharply in most countries. We see the young and the restless in this interconnected globe, unsure of their future, wanting more but anticipating less.”

He also donated money to rebuild the hostel campus of IIT Bombay.

In 2008 he also set up the Indian Institute for Human Settlements to help to solve urban challenges for India.

Personal life

Nilekani is married to Rohini Nilekani (née Soman), whom he met at a quizzing event at IIT. They have two children, Nihar and Janhavi, each of whom has received an undergraduate degree from Yale University.  His first language is Konkani. In addition to Konkani, he speaks Kannada fluently along with English, Marathi, and Hindi. The Nilekani family has a 2.31 percent stake in Infosys as per the quarter ended March 2018.

Honours and awards

  • He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Law degree by the Rotman School of Managementat the University of Toronto on 31 May 2011.
  • He received NDTV Indian of the Year‘s Transformational Idea of the Year Award in 2011
  • He was named Corporate Citizen of the Year at the Asia Business Leaders Award (2004) organised by CNBC.
  • Joseph Schumpeter Prizefor innovative services in economy, economic sciences and politics – 2005.
  • In 2009, Timemagazine placed Nilekani in the Time 100 list of ‘World’s Most Influential People’
  • Was presented the ‘Legend in Leadership Award’ by the Yale Universityin November 2009. He is the first Indian to receive the top honour.
  • In January 2006, Nilekani became one of the youngest entrepreneurs to join 20 global leaders on the World Economic Forum(WEF) Foundation Board.
  • Nilekani was awarded one of India’s highest civilian honours, the Padma Bhushan, in 2006.
  • Also in 2006, he was named Businessman of the Year by Forbes Asia.
  • India Todaymagazine ranked him 12th in India’s 50 most powerful people of 2017 list.
  • In 2017 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from E & Y. CNBC- TV 18 conferred India Business leader award for outstanding contributor to the Indian Economy-2017.
  • He received the 22nd Nikkei Asia Prize for Economic & Business Innovation 2017.
  • Awarded Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) by IIT Bombay during the Institute’s 57th Convocation, in 2019.

Bibliography