Meeting Nandan Nilekani

Posted: February 7, 2010 in Published Articles
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(Interview with Nandan Nilekani in 2007. He has moved on since; in charge of the PIO card project currently… Photos are from my Personal collection taken at the Infosys campus, Bangalore)

 

As I entered the gates I noticed the façade of the building with ‘INFOSYS” emblazoned on its walls. Uniformed security personnel checked my credentials, searched my back-pack and after issuing a relevant visitor badge led me into the impressive office building. The Infosys campus is housed along with several other big companies in the famed Electronics City location on Hosur Road in Bangalore.

I had a Press interview scheduled with Nandan. M. Nilekani co-founder of Infosys who retired as CEO in June, although he remains the co-chairman of the board currently. I was visibly excited at the prospect of meeting this dynamic person who is widely respected as a pioneer and who has been in news for a while with his inspiring take on the globalization effect around the world. He believes that globally, companies are going through a new challenge. In his words “This challenge is a combination of demographics, emerging economies, globalization, technology, flat world and regulation.”

The Pulitzer prize winning author and columnist Thomas Freidman in his book “The world is flat” had given attention to the evolution of globalization with emphasis on the IT behemoth Infosys and exclusive interview with the then CEO Nandan Nilakeni who had mentioned to him “The playing field is leveled”. That phrase had taken Freidman on a quest for uncovering the truth behind ‘The world is flat’.

I sat there in the lobby twiddling my thumbs and waiting to be ushered into his room. A beaming, tall man ambled towards me with an outstretched hand saying ‘hello’. I looked in awe at the person whom I had read about in the books and news. We exchanged pleasantries. Nandan was actually apologizing for keeping me waiting. I soon realized here is a person with no pretense and as down- to- earth as anybody can be. He had personally corresponded with me  accepted the interview. Suffice to say I was impressed by his simplicity.

I launched into my pre-prepared questions and Nandan was loquacious and answered everything to the best of his abilities as any veteran ex-CEO would do. We touched topics on his focus in his new role as the co-chairman to which he replied  he would continue being the brand ambassador improving client relationship. He talked about the company’s latest acquisition of Royal Philips Electronics, a multi-million dollar outsourcing contract. We also talked about the entry of Infosys into the Balanced Score card ‘Hall of Fame’ for executing strategies and their winning the ‘outsourcing award’. We discussed further ‘reverse outsourcing’, labor shortages, women in workforce and several other topics.

The PR personnel then took me around the campus explaining the facilities, the work-force, the work culture, the impressive buildings that stood out well-spaced on the campus among blissful greenery. This was one of the most eco-friendly campuses I had seen. No high-rise buildings covered the sky but elegantly shaped buildings with impressive architecture* spread around on a huge campus with all the modern facilities and amenities. There were swimming pools, billiards tables, gyms and several other ways to unwind from the stresses of the working environment. The PR person informed me that the work culture here was flat too meaning that everyone here is treated as one large family and everyone was accessible round the clock for informal talks or discussions.

Interview was published in ASIA news- West coast edn

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Comments
  1. Lucky to talk to such a great personality, though all top heads of infosys are so grand but they all are down to earth, i remember once shaking hand with Narayan Murthy at Infosys Mysore Campus.
    Infosys is a nice company, has developed world class facilities at its Campuses for its employees no doubt no other compnay can match it.
    Hopefully it goes on growth with acceleratiing percentage and becomes the IT leader of the World.

  2. Thanks Abhishek.
    I was a big fan of Nilekani to begin with and after meeting him realised what a down-2-earth person he is. He is a visionary and now being the head of the PIO card venture in India hope he will achieve a lot more.

    Narayan Murthy is also reputedly a very dynamic and humble person. Together they have made Infosys what it is today.