Entrepreneurial Spirit

International business leader N. R. Murthy spends the day engaging USF students and is presented USF’s Global Leadership Award.

N.R. Narayana Murthy stands with (l-r) USF Provost Ralph Wilcox, USF President Judy Genshaft and Karen Holbrook, Senior Vice President for Global Affairs. Photo: Aimee Blodgett | USF News

 

By Barbara Melendez

USF News

 

TAMPA, Fla. (May 14, 2012) – Soft-spoken and unassuming, N.R. Narayana Murthy’s presence nonetheless makes a powerful impression.  A remarkable reputation precedes him and drew students and faculty to a series of events around the USF campus in Tampa today. Murthy was in town to receive two high honors from USF, the Global Leadership and Free Enterprise Awards.

The international business leader and founder of Infosys began the day at a special breakfast with a select group of students – past and present – for an informal conversation.  Department of Information Systems and Decision Sciences Chair Kaushal Chari and new College of Business Dean Moez Limayem hosted the group of nine which included people who had ties to Infosys.

In an afternoon event at the Patel Center for Global Sustainability, USF President Judy Genshaft presented Murthy with the USF President’s Global Leadership Award, praising the business leader for his entrepreneurial spirit.

At the morning event, Murthy talked about his current duties as Infosys chairman emeritus, which keeps him busy though not involved in the day-to-day operations, and then engaged in a question and answer session.  Fresh from graduation, MIS major Brian Wing got the conversation going by getting Murthy to talk about how his company got its start. He recounted details about the impact of changes in the tech world that “transformed the entire scenario” for corporations and “opened up unlimited and enormous opportunities,” most significantly the introduction of supercomputers and online transaction capabilities. 

Maria Valentino, who mentioned how impressed she was with the business culture she found during her visit to Infosys as a student, asked how his company managed to maintain its values. Murthy responded that, because of his middle class background, it was not as difficult to do as it might be for the mass of people eking out a living.

“You need a spirit of sacrifice and you need to have trust,” he said. He explained how the company’s ethos has its roots in the very first meeting held at his house in Mumbai with his six fellow founders. Their discussion was focused on profitability. Murthy focused their attention on “seeking respect,” “living in harmony with society” and making sure “you don’t shortchange your customers,” he said.  When you do those things, “revenue will come.  Profit will come.”

 In response to a question from Vaibhav Rastogi about the chances of Murthy entering politics, he mentioned his preference for “rational discussion” and the difficulty the political world offers for such and expressed some hesitation.  But Rastogi would like to see him change his mind.

“It would benefit our country,” he said, “He does his job well whatever it is.”  The MIS masters candidate from Lucknow, India just began his studies at USF this spring semester after working at Infosys.  He was inspired to study here after meeting USF students visiting there.

Similarly, it was meeting USF students and Chari that drew Swetha Chemudu to USF as well. The former Infosys staffer from Bangalore thanked Murthy for all she gained personally and professionally during her tenure. Now working for KMPG in California, she credits USF with preparing her for this chapter of her life.

“USF provided a real career boost,” she said, primarily “because of the culture here. I learned how to work in a multicultural environment, something I would not have been able to do in India.” Chemudu is the only Indian on a team that includes people from various countries including Japan, China, Iran and Germany. She also had great praise for Chari who she said “is always there to support his students. He stays in touch and wants to know how we’re progressing.”

Wing, now working for Citi in Tampa, said after breakfast that it meant a lot to meet Murthy for the first time.  He spent time at Infosys and was happy to meet K. Dinesh, another Infosys founder, and heard from everyone what a strong impression he made on them.

“It was great to finally be able to meet him,” he said. “It’s kind of humbling and at the same time energizing.  He makes creating a major company sound possible.”

Events continued with Murthy being introduced to a group of USF faculty by Senior Vice President for Global Affairs Karen Holbrook in another informal gathering and with larger groups of students to share his wisdom and experience.

Barbara Melendez can be reached at 813-974-4563.

Murthy meets with facutty and students in the USF College of Business.