Mr. N.R. Narayana Murthy retired from the executive post of Infosys. NRN, as he is popularly known, is undoubtedly the face of the changing Bangalore.
When he setup Infosys with the now proverbial Rs. 10,000/- borrowed from his wife, along with a handful of friends, Bangalore was called “The Pensioners’ Paradise”. The roads were empty and wide. Flyovers weren’t even on the radar. Airport was laughed at for being there and was used by HAL to test their various experiments most of the time.
It was in 1991-92, when Infy (Infosys pet name!) went public is when it came into the public eye. But it was during the 1994-97 period when the BSE Sensex boomed and Infosys’ market capitalization touched the levels that HLL (considered to be the undisputed emperor of BSE) held and even went past that was when Infy caught the public eye.
Wealth creation became the buzz word and every management graduate worth his salt seemed to be using it. Infosys had suddenly become the Dream that the Great Indian Middle Class looked upto. Entrepreneurship was in. It no longer belonged to the crooks or the traditionally rich. NRN made it trendy to be on our own. His driver was a millionaire. And what not!
The success of Infy brought every other IT company to make Bangalore its HQ. Even start-ups began blooming like it was the best-ever time to do business. Every IITian, every IIMite who had seen a bit of the technology and had been to the US came back to Bangalore and started an IT company. With Infy having close to 60,000 employees (58,000 to be approximately precise!), TCS also around the same number maybe more, Wipro gathering junta at quite the same pace, Satyam was languishing in the nearby wanna-be-Bangalore-city Hyderabad.
Influx of companies into Bangalore was met with considerable enthusiasm by the Bangaloreans as it ensured more chances at a job to them atleast. Engineering colleges started to spring up around the state offering engineers at the rate of 75,000 (in number) per year. Quality was doubted, checked, corrected and celebrated. The software engineering profession was the latest fad. Every kid wanted to grow up and become a software engineer. And this is where NRN’s real success is. He put the profession ahead of himself or his company.
NRN owns 5.9% of Infy. One of those magazines that like telling the world that you are not exactly billionaire that you thought you were has valued NRN at $1.2 billion!
NRN is my idol. Not Shah Rukh Khan or Aamir Khan. Not because NRN made so much money and is so rich and hence he is so cool. NRN has showed people like me a way to succeed and make this country of mine convert its inherent potential to performance and be the Most Developed Coutnry in the World. He has conveyed to us that successful entrepreneurship is definitely the best way to making India a developed country.
By retiring NRN has also shown us that there has to be an end to whatever you choose to do. You need to develop successors good enough to take over and give them a chance at the top. You need to develop processes and systems that are good enough to carry on the company’s operations whether you are at the helm or not. Finally, NRN is my hero because he has put India on the world’s map of IT.