Infosys founder and former CEO and Chairman Narayana Murthy received the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Global Innovation at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business on April 13, 2017.
Murthy credited the growth of Infosys, that started with six people and a $1,000 pool of to become a multinational IT giant, to one that was defined by values and fairness, in his public talk with Dean Scott Beardsley in Darden’s Abbott Auditorium on April 12.
Murthy attributed his professional success to a solid foundation with his supportive family, trusting colleagues and encouraging customers.
The wide-ranging discussion between Murthy and Bradley that covered technology, corporate governance and global affairs, was part of the events commemorating the presentation of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal
The award, hosted by Darden and presented by UVA in partnership with the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello, recognizes an individual who embodies Jefferson’s vision of global citizenship and relentless dedication to human progress and innovation.
Murthy said his father, a high school teacher, would often quote Jefferson when insisting that his children learn to cultivate the courage of their convictions.
“I am a great believer in the power of the human mind. What appears impossible today will be made a convincing possibility because of the human mind, and we have seen how the human mind has transformed this world from the Stone Age to where we are today. I don’t think that’s going to end,”
He credited his company’s explosive growth in part to an early ingrained value system that fostered “hope and trust” among its stakeholders and ultimately helped the company become one of India’s most-respected companies.
“Good governance is all about maximizing shareholder value while ensuring fairness, transparency and accountability to all stakeholders,” Murthy said, adding that shared trust inside and outside the company gave Infosys “the enthusiasm to achieve the impossible.”
A strong proponent of the social responsibilities of corporations, he said every decision made by corporate leaders should first pass the basic filter of: “Will this decision of mine enhance respect for my company from society and will this decision of mine enhance respect for me from my employees?”
If such questions became fundamental to corporate decision-making, society would be happier and healthier, he added. Murthy, at one point, had defined success as “the ability to put a smile on the face of people when I enter a room.”
The commitment to cultivating goodwill continues at Infosys today, he said, claiming its corporate slogan — “Powered by intellect. Driven by values.” — continues to shape its hiring decisions.
“Anyone who wants a position at Infosys has to demonstrate intellect and values,” Murthy said. “Nothing else.”
Within the technology industry, Murthy looked ahead to a future of opportunity that was being informed by the key trends of increased automation and the consumer demand to access technology-assisted content “anytime, anywhere, on any device.”
While automation presents opportunities for companies at the presumed expense of huge numbers of employees, Murthy said he believed new solutions would emerge for workers.
“I am a great believer in the power of the human mind. What appears impossible today will be made a convincing possibility because of the human mind, and we have seen how the human mind has transformed this world from the Stone Age to where we are today. I don’t think that’s going to end,” he added.
A legendary entrepreneur and committed philanthropist he is credited with helping to jumpstart an Indian technology boom that revolutionized industries.
Considered one of the most influential global business leaders in the modern era, Murthy is also credited with designing the “global delivery model,” a pioneering information technology approach.