Global software major Infosys Ltd. bid farewell to S. Gopalakrishnan, or Kris as he is popularly known, on retiring from the firm he co-founded with the IT industry’s iconic figures N.R. Narayana Murthy and Nandan Nilekani.
With Kris retiring as the last of the six co-founders at the helm, the 33-year-old IT bellwether is being steered by its first non-founder chief executive and managing director Vishal Sikka since Aug 1.
“Computers have become ubiquitous and created a large industry, both in products and services. The internet has connected the world. I have been fortunate to be part of this industry for the last 35 years of its 70 years,” a visibly emotional Kris said on the occasion at the $8.3-billion company’s sprawling green campus in the electronic city.
Besides Murthy and Nilekani, other three co-founders N.S. Raghavan, S.D. Shibulal and K. Dinesh were present at the farewell function and to celebrate their contributions and achievements.
“I was fortunate that my passion for computing became my profession. I was also able to make an impact in this industry through Infosys, through innovations we pioneered and jobs we created,” Kris recalled.
Terming farewell to Kris a unique event in corporate India, Murthy said the country did not see in the past and probably may not in future a set of founders who nurtured their creation with care, sacrifice and passion for 33 years and passed it with equanimity to outsiders.
“We leave with the satisfaction of taking this company from a market value of Rs.28.5 crore when it was listed in 1993 on the Bombay Stock Exchange to Rs.200,000 crore in 2014, with an astronomical return of 650,000 percent over 21 years — a CAGR of 89 percent,” a beaming Murthy told thousands of Infoscions who joined the founders at the event.
“We also leave with the distinction of creating several firsts in good corporate governance in India and the world,” he added.
Nilekani, who succeeded Murthy as the chief executive in 2002, said building client relationships, based on intimacy and empathy, ranked among his top three priorities for business organisations.
He said: “Intimacy is not only knowing your client, but also your ticket to mindshare. Anyone who has business experience will tell that mindshare always precedes marketshare or wallet. This is the reason why a number of chief executives at global organisations voice their commitment to ‘listening on the job’.”
Shibulal, the last founder chief executive who quit July 31, eight months before superannuation in March 2015, said the co-founders always believed that an idea without execution had little value.
“Innovation for us is not about the next big idea but a focus on executing it to add value to all stakeholders, including clients, employees, investors and society,” he noted.
Recalling that he was fortunate to have steered the company’s human capital during the first two decades of its growth phase, Raghavan said the tagline of Infosys — “powered by intellect, driven by values” – had put huge responsibility on the co-founders to build resource teams and nurture a value-driven culture.
He said: “I salute the first generation of Infoscions who deserve to be given a lion’s share of credit for laying a strong edifice and building on it to grow and succeed since then.”
As the youngest co-founder then, Dinesh, who headed quality division, said total quality made them succeed as an organisation and set on the path of pursuing excellence.
“We earned the trust of all stakeholders from employees, clients, partners, industry, and government to society. This trust is an intangible, yet invaluable asset, and reflects the success of the quality journey,” he added.