What can one say about the coming of age of a child you loved, nurtured
and protected? A child whose successes you rejoiced, and whose failures
you suffered quietly. Commitment, admiration and affection for Infosys
are unparalleled among my colleagues who always put the interest of
this child first in every thing they do.
Completing 25 years is a watershed event in anybody's life. It signals
the arrival of a strong, confident, young person, ready to take on
bigger challenges. Energy, enthusiasm, confidence, idealism, daring,
openness and curiosity find utterance and fruition. Nothing seems
impossible. This is when you move on to higher aspirations in life, and
learn to accept failures with equanimity. We need all of this and more
for Infosys to achieve bigger and more plausible targets.
This journey of 25 years has been a symphonic marathon. It has been
symphonic because every Infoscion, a maestro in one's own right,
subordinated individual egos and interests to work as part of a fine
team, and produced spectacular results year after year. It is a
marathon since we have a long way to go before we hit the tape.
There have been many happy events during these 25 years. Prominent
among them are enrolling the first customer; arrival of the first
employee; signing of the first million dollar contract; opening of the
first sales office abroad; installation of our first computer - a DG
MV/8000; inauguration of the Electronics City campus, the Global
Education Center and the Infosys Leadership Institute; CMM Level 5
certification; listing in India and on NASDAQ; our first acquisition
(in Australia); founding of Infosys Foundation, Progeon, Infosys
Consulting and Infosys China; and reaching the magical figure of
billion dollar in sales. There have been a few sad moments too -
departure of valued colleagues; death of a few young Infoscions; loss
of a few major contracts in spite of giving off our best; and the
unacceptable behavior of a few Infoscions which brought disgrace to
themselves and to the company.
A great corporation must live for hundreds of years. Hence, we are
still babies. Even these initial baby-years have taught us several
lessons. These lessons are valuable not just for our future journey but
for other corporations in the country and, perhaps, the world. Let me
recount a few major ones.
Aspiration is the main fuel for progress. Aspirations transform a set
of ordinary people into extraordinary achievers. They provide mental
and physical energy for people to convert plausible impossibilities
into convincing possibilities.
An enduring value system based on openness, honesty, integrity,
meritocracy, fairness, transparency and excellence has raised our
confidence and the confidence of our customers in the company.
Sacrifices have become easy, natural and not a burden. It has given us
courage to handle tough situations with confidence.
Our experience has demonstrated that respect and dignity, challenging
work and a promising career growth path are more important motivators
for us than just money. People want to be part of a defining moment
that transforms the society and the world. Emotional energy is an
invaluable asset for a corporation.
Performance leads to recognition. Recognition brings respect. Respect
enhances power. Humility and grace in one's moments of power enhances
dignity of an organization.
Leadership by example is, perhaps, the most essential instrument to
encourage youngsters to demonstrate commitment, dedication and
sacrifice in any cause. Role models are powerful catalysts in raising
the confidence, enthusiasm and energy of an entire generation.
Openness to new ideas; strengthening the leadership of people with
leadership of ideas by encouraging the youth; shunning biases and using
data in every decision; and learning and adopting good practices from
other cultures help a company become better and more confident.
Becoming more relevant and creating greater impact on customers are the
only means of strengthening relationship with customers. Innovation is
an important instrument for this. Proactively obsoleting our own
innovations by widely disseminating them creates good incentives for
employees to continue innovation.
An environment of openness, meritocracy, speed, imagination and
excellence in execution are the only five context-invariant and
time-invariant attributes for the success of a corporation.
Progress is possible only if we measure improvements in every dimension
of our operation and take timely corrective action.
Global benchmarking has helped us emulate the best companies in the
world in specific attributes and, in some cases, improve upon them to
serve our customers better.
Following the best practices of corporate governance attracts the best
investors. Investors understand that every corporation will go through
lean days. Bringing bad news to investors early and proactively
enhances their trust in us.
We have realized that it is better to focus on growing the wealth pie
for every one of us rather than focusing on how to preserve it only for
a few. In fact, this has been the main motivation in our experiment on
democratization of wealth using stock options.
Profit is just an opinion. The real happiness is cash in the bank.
Cutting the coat according to the cloth is the surest way to be
Ships are safest in the harbor but they are not meant to be there. They
have to sail long and hard and face stormy seas to reach the comfort of
a desirable destination. Hence, progress requires us to take calculated
risks and make bold moves.
We have realized that corporations must reach out to the society if
they want longevity. In a poor country like India, it is very important
to build a fund of goodwill among the people.
What is the contribution of Infosys to India, the main hub of our
operations? In my opinion, Infosys is a shining example of the success
of economic reforms introduced in 1991. We have demonstrated that it is
possible to run business legally and ethically in India. Thanks to
Infosys, a large number of youngsters have stayed back in India, and
millions of youngsters in the country aspire to become entrepreneurs.
The first large-scale experiment in democratization of wealth using
stock options took place at Infosys. Infosys has taken the lead in
raising the bar for corporate governance in India. We have demonstrated
that Indian brands can receive attention in G-7 countries.
What would I want Infosys to achieve in the next 25 years? I want
Infosys to be a place where people of different genders, nationalities,
races and religious beliefs work together in an environment of intense
competition but utmost harmony, courtesy and dignity, to add more and
more value to our customers day after day. I want it to be a place that
practices Voltaire's much-celebrated statement: I disapprove of what
you say, but 1 will defend till death your right to say it. I would
like more women leaders to shape the future of Infosys. Finally, I
would urge Infosys to choose a worthy dream, to go after it
confidently, and to play a role that will make all of us proud in the
years to come. But always, without fail, she should follow her bliss.
Thousands of people, from all over the world, inside and outside
Infosys have made the company reach this stage. There is no better way
for Infosys to acknowledge their contribution than to express her
appreciation by borrowing the words of my favorite soprano, Russell
You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains; You raise me up, to walk
on stormy seas; I am so strong, when I am on your shoulders; You raise
me up: to more than I can be.