Quotes Narayana Murthy’s Last Farewell Speech

His last speech bidding farewell to Infosys

“We believe that our new strategy and supporting organisation structure will help us expand our global market by forging strategic partnerships with our clients and increasing our relevance to all facets of their enterprise.

It is not easy for me to deliver my last address at this forum. As I speak, a mosaic of images from the past whizz through my mind.

As I leave the board, I feel sad that Infosys has been issued a subpoena by a grand jury in the US on the B1 issue. The issue will be decided on its merits in due course.

This is the time to continue and even strengthen our well acclaimed and much respected focus on embracing meritocracy, transparency and openness of discussions and consultations with competent colleagues, relentlessly and repeatedly communicating the importance of values to every level in the organisation, not waffling and being unambiguous about practicing our values, never negotiating on our values, punishing the guilty heavily and swiftly and being firm and quick in every decision making based on our values.

This is the path, I have walked during the last 30 years at Infosys with much peace of mind and a clear conscience.

My life story should be a confidence booster for every average person in the world that he or she can indeed make a difference at least in a small way to this world.”


If we have to make life better for these (rural) people and give them reasonable standards of living, disposable incomes, healthcare and nutrition and education, I personally believe we have to look at low-tech manufacturing to start with and then high-tech manufacturing in a big way just as China has done because most of these people are semi-literate or educated at a very basic level.

This has been a happy, intense, rewarding and exhilarating journey of 25 years.

It doesn’t matter how bright a person is. How smart a person is. If they don’t understand the risk emanating from what they are doing, if they are not suitably regulated and if greed overtakes them it is inevitable that one sees disasters because in the end systems are much more powerful than individuals.

When one operates at the huge scale and the pace at which the Wall Street is operating unless he has good real time control systems and have eyes on the gauge all the time it could lead to disaster. It is almost like the control centre of the rocket. That’s why they have real time control. They monitor it second by second. In some sense the complexity of what is happening in the Wall Street has become somewhat of a real time necessitated system requirement.

In the end it is always about ethics and all about personal values. That is why it is very important for every society to create checks and balances. That is why it is very important for every society not to create incentives for people to become greedier. That is why it is very important for all of us in the corporate world to create incentives for long-term performance rather than short-term performance. When you create systems that focus on short-term performance, when you create a system that reveres money rather than decency, honesty and respect, when you make it a fashion for youngsters to revel in the power of their wealth, it is inevitable.

We need to create a system where we can rank world corporate leaders based on their respectability.Today, we have the most powerful leaders, the best managed companies, companies by market capitalisation and all of that. But we have to move towards a regime which will rank corporate leaders based on their respectability and everybody must say that I want to become the most respected leader in the world.

As long as the engines of innovation are alive, and they attract the best talent, the leadership will continue to be with them.

I am a believer in the adage – performance leads to recognition, recognition leads to respect and respect leads to power.

It is too early to say. I do believe that any economic difficulty in a market will necessitate greater need for innovation, will necessitate greater competitiveness through better value for money.

Brought pretty smart people together. Infosys has given opportunity for youngsters to come out with new ideas. Infosys has created a platform where meritocracy has prevailed. Infosys has put premium on innovation; we have created incentives for people who are innovative. Infosys has been an enlightened democracy where the hierarchy of ideas prevails over hierarchy of men and women. Infosys has built-up a mindset where everybody makes short-term sacrifices because they see long-term benefit in that. Infosys has laser focus on customers; Infosys brings customers into its premises, into our software engineering and technology lab, so that we can serve our customers better. Infosys is a place where there is tremendous energy and enthusiasm because of the leadership.

There is only one ingredient for innovation and that is the power of the human mind. As long as a company is able to attract, enable, empower and retain the best of the brightest, it will have a play. As long as the leadership of companies ensure that the physically and mentally tired mind that leaves office at whatever 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm or 9:00 pm comes back mentally and physically reenergised and enthusiastic to add significant value to the customer next morning, the job is done.

That’s why at Infosys we say at 9:00 am when every one of our people is working the marketcap maybe whatever it is, 15-16 in these tough days, but at 6:15 or 7:00 pm when the last of us has gone or maybe 9:00 pm when the last of us has gone home the marketcap is zero. I think that is the fundamental instrument that every corporation must believe in. That’s the power of the mind; the power of the happy, enthusiastic, energetic, satisfied, aspirational mind. The moment you create that rest is all simple.There are two fundamental characteristics of Infosys. One; we are an engineering company. Two; we are a company founded by middleclass people. I will link the two. Being an engineering company, we discuss and debate, collect data, analyse, argue and then come to some conclusion. As we are middleclass people that founded the company – we don’t go by flats, we don’t go buy fashion and we don’t want to look good in a party just because we have spent a billion dollars to acquire a company.When you combine these two powerful attributes, you end up being conservative. There is no doubt at all. Infosys is conservative, but there is a method in this conservative behaviour. We have clearly laid out rules for operation. We said our people will have to collect money because at the end of the day the real happiness is cash in the bank. We say profit is an opinion – the real happiness is cash in the bank. We created incentives for our sales and customer facing people which would ensure that they collect money.

Secondly, we hired pretty smart sales people in the industry and that’s why you will notice that we have anywhere from 500-600 basis point of higher operating margin than any of our competitors because we tell them that if the customer thinks that USD 100 is the price – your smartness is to sell it for USD 105 and give the customer USD 110 worth of value. Don’t cheat him, but sell it at USD 105 and provide value of USD 110. That is what we have focused on a lot.

Thirdly, there is tremendous cost consciousness in the company. We are not judged by how opulent our rooms are – we are not judged by whether we travel in this class or that class. So right from the beginning we focused on that. When you focus on middleclass values, when you focus on analytics – it is easy to have a lot of cash in the bank.

I have always said that a good leader simplifies business. It doesn’t matter what business he or she runs. So, I would suggest that we use simple business rules, not complex or compound ones. The good thing about simple business rules is that it is easy to understand, easy to practice, easy to communicate, and you cannot cheat anybody with simple business rules. And you can enthuse every one of your colleagues with simple business rules because there is transparency, there is fairness, and there is accountability.As far as the youth of this country is concerned, I would say that for the first time in the last 300 years, this country has received recognition in the global markets, and received certain respect. This is the time for us to work hard, this is the time for us to work smart and consolidate on the gains. Indians are generally not known to have the killer instinct or not known to run the last mile. Yesterday was a wonderful exception when the Indian cricketers beat the Australians. But that is a rare one.

We have to make it a habit. We have to make it a habit of what Dhoni and others did yesterday. That is make sure that all the good things that they have achieved in the last 10 years becomes a habit. To do that, you need continued discipline, hard work, smartness, integrity and putting the interest of the country above your own personal interest.

I believe that India is better placed than any of the leading economies of the world to recover from the mess that the world economy has got into because of a very simple reason. We are primarily a domestic economy focused nation. Our fundamentals are good. Our productivity is improving.


  1. Ravindranath Manvi21 August 2011 at 16:55

    Mr Narayan Murthy has been my business icon ever since I came to know about him,I have seen many business tycoons in my life,but,none infused so much confidence,grace ,integrity and respect.In a person you don't see how much he has earned,but how much he has spent of his values to earn it.We need more of such characters to have a stable economy.

  2. Yes Manvi, there are many murthies in the temple, but this non-god simple man narayan murthy really helped India. We got to admire this man, you are so right when you said that we need such many characters to have a stable economy. It was a very very good point!


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