In every sense, the 34th annual general meeting (AGM) of IT major Infosys held Monday was an exceptional one. N R Narayana Murthy, the person who founded Infosys in 1981 with six others and had been chairing over majority of the Bengaluru-based company’s AGMs so far, was sitting in the shareholders’ gallery, for the first time, along with his family. And interestingly, it was he, N R Narayana Murthy, who got most of the attention, whether by the shareholders, the chairman or even the CEO of the company himself, even though he did not utter a single word, even as a shareholder.
The common demand of most of the shareholders was to get him back to the Infosys board as an independent director, while many applauded him for building the company that have made them to earn so much as shareholders. At one point, replying to the shareholders’ chorus, R Seshasayee, the newly-appointed chairman referred to Murthy as the Bhisma Pitamaha who is always there for help whenever these is a need.
“He (Murthy) is our mentor, for all of us. Whether he sits this side or that side, he is our Bhisma Pitamaha and we’ll reach out to him when required,” Seshasayee said, replying to shareholders’ queries.
Murthy, however, did not stay back for the full proceedings to get over and left with son Rohan. Wife Sudha Murthy, who heads the Infosys Foundation as its chairperson, stayed back till the end. Later on, talking to the media on the sidelines, Murthy said he is quite optimistic that the strong set of leaders who are at the helm of the company would drive it for the good, and as a shareholder, he is fully supportive of the management for the steps it has taken and the aspirational target it has set before the company.
“Well, you know he (CEO Vishal Sikka) has been working very hard; he is a great leader and he has brought in lots of good ideas. I am sure, they will all provide results but we have to be patient. He has set a very ambitious target for 2020. We should all support him and should pray that he succeeds,” Murthy said.
To a query on shareholders’ demand to bring him back to the company’s board, Murthy said the company is in safe hands and there is no need from anybody outside to pitch in. “They (shareholders) are all saying these things because they have some affections. But the reality is that today we have a very good set of people running the company. They should run the company. We should all support them, cheer them from outside. There is no need for anybody from outside to get back to Infosys,” he added.
Infosys CEO and MD Vishal Sikka said that the company is on track to get back to the industry-leading growth rate in FY17 on the back of its new strategy which has already started to show results. Addressing the company’s 34th AGM on Monday, Sikka, who has been at the helm of the Bengaluru-based company since August last year, said he is seeing early results of the various initiatives taken in the recent past.
Murthy’s entry to the shareholders meeting was rather dramatic as he entered the venue around the same time when Sikka was just emerging out after finishing the board meeting.
The Infosys CEO & MD was seen touching the feet of Murthy,
whom he considers as his mentor, before entering the venue for the shareholders’ meet after finishing.
For Infosys, this was perhaps the first board meet in its 34 years of history when none of its founding members were on the podium. So also, KV Kamath, the celebrity banker who had kind of become the face of the company in the past four years post the retirement of N R Narayana Murthy.
Kamath who joined Infosys board as an independent director in 2011 and played varied role in the board such as non-executive chairman and lead independent director and more importantly was instrumental in the selection of Vishal Sikka as the first non-founder CEO & MD of the Bengaluru based company, stepped down from the board after his nomination to lead the BRICS New Development Bank, earlier this month.
Albeit, the show has to continue, said the newly appointed chairman R Seshasayee who also joined Infosys board as an independent director, the same year when Kamath also joined. “We are in the midst of tremendous changes in our industry, and therefore, for our company. Traditional business models are beginning to be disrupted by new technologies and new ideas. This change throws up both challenges and opportunities,” said Seshasayee. “Vishal Sikka and his management team have articulated a clear and cohesive strategy to exploit these emerging opportunities and thereby to return your company to the preeminent position of industry leaders,” he added.