Growing tall with Infosys


As we enter the thirtieth year, my thoughts go back to 1986, when I joined Infosys, then operating out of a two-storey building in Bangalore. That period is still so vivid in my memory. While studying engineering, I had realized that being an electrical engineer for life was not my cup of tea. A chance encounter with my neighbor, Bala Kuthiyar, changed my destiny. He was working with Infosys and had been sent abroad. That, and an opportunity to move out of electrical engineering, was motivation enough for me to apply. Narayana Murthy and N. S. Raghavan interviewed me and I was lucky to be selected. I joined Infosys at a princely salary of 1,500, much to the dismay of my well-wishers, ignoring three other wonderful job offers.

Twenty-five years is a long period. But for me time has elapsed too fast. It has been an absolute dream working here and I have enjoyed my tenure here to the fullest. Today, as I reflect on my 25-year tenure, I believe that Infosys has delivered on its vision, creating a truly outstanding company with a distinct corporate culture, one in which every Infoscion can take a great deal of pride. I am deeply proud of its accomplishments and more so of the team of people responsible for its ongoing success. While there have been several milestones, in my perspective, the following stand out as particularly memorable.

I was deputed to travel onsite to the U.S. within a couple of months of joining the company. Until then, I had never lived away from my family. I had wonderful colleagues who helped me settle down both professionally and personally. I spent over three years in the U.S., traveling across multiple locations, often on single-person projects. I also spent a year in the U.K., consulting at Reebok, perhaps the first project for Infosys in Europe. These three-plus years was an intense learning period for me.

Our Global Delivery Model (GDM) evolved in the early Nineties and we set up our first Offshore Development Center (ODC) for GE. The big moment for me was when we won a contract from Reebok (France) to build a state-of-the art information management system. We christened it as the Distributor Management Apparel Package (DMAP), also called 'Dinesh, Murthy and Prahlad', as they were actively involved. This was one of our early efforts at creating a product that leveraged our deep domain knowledge.

We worked in shifts and the compilation took ages making us disciplined coders. While it was hard work, we did have our share of fun and learning and it was teamwork at its best. I still remember the endless arguments with K. Dinesh on the need for hardware upgrades and his insistence that we have staggered lunch breaks and ensure 100% utilization to justify the upgrade costs.

Around the same time, we sold the DMAP to Reebok U.K., Reebok Canada and Reebok International. I was personally involved in selling and implementing the product at Reebok U.K. and later to Reebok Canada. We were competing with another well-known product and it was a great experience learning the art of client stakeholder management from K. Dinesh.

When I look at today's dominant Retail ERP packages, I believe DMAP had rich and comparable features even in those days, and perhaps this was a missed opportunity for Infosys not to market DMAP beyond Reebok. Another significant milestone was Infosys going public in 1993 and being listed on the Indian stock exchange. A majority of us did not realize its significance and bought a few 100 shares out of a sheer sense of patriotism. It has turned out to be one of the most profitable investments made to date. Infosys also launched the ESOP plan in 1994 thus becoming one of the first companies in India to make this kind of an offer. It created a strong sense of ownership amongst our employees and helped strengthen the Infosys brand.

The mid-nineties saw Infosys move its corporate headquarters to Electronics City, Bangalore, an unpopular move with employees at that time. This was perhaps one of the finest examples of futuristic thinking on the part of the Infosys board and I have seen many such examples along the way.

I have grown with the organization, celebrated success, learnt from the losses and had the good fortune of working with the brightest minds in the industry. It did not take long for me to realize that this is a special company.

While today we take our laptops and smart phones for granted, I still remember the times when we had debates about how many people would share a PC. During this period, I was involved in Infosys winning the largest development project for implementing a policy management system for a leading re-insurance company in the U.S.

The late Nineties saw Infosys expanding its service footprint by introducing Enterprise Solutions and IBCS (consulting practice). We leveraged our knowledge in implementing Y2K solutions and expanded our client portfolio. In 1999, we were listed on the NASDAQ, a proud moment for all of us and an important step towards creating a global Infosys brand.

We also benefitted tremendously from the dotcom boom. I was at that time heading delivery for the Europe region. This gave me an opportunity to understand the European market, the challenges around language, culture and client relationships. It contributed significantly to my professional development.

The dotcom bubble burst in 2001 and led to challenging times for Infosys. We were forced to take some tough measures. Employee satisfaction plummeted to unprecedented lows. Nandan, the then CEO, provided assurance that corrective steps would be taken. An initiative was launched to identify the root cause for employee dis-engagement. I was actively involved in the initiative and experienced firsthand the efforts of the organization to stay true to its core values in tough times as well. My faith in Infosys has been reinforced through this and many other subsequent experiences.

One of the most satisfying periods for me has been my current stint as Unit Head, Retail CPG and Logistics (RCL). RCL was the first vertical to be formed in November 2002. It has been a wonderful journey with industry-leading performances in many parameters. We have won accolades both from our clients as well as from industry analysts, we have been featured in several journals and publications such as Fortune and Business Week.

We have contributed to Infosys' aspirations of moving up the value chain and IP-led growth through our solutions such as the ST360, iConnect, digital commerce / marketing platforms, and competitive intelligence. The proudest moment for us was when a RIS News survey of leading Retailers in North America, rated Infosys as the number one IT and consulting service provider for the retail industry.

I cannot express how grateful I am for the opportunity and privilege of working with Infosys. It has been an extremely fulfilling and enriching experience both at a personal and professional level. Very few people get the opportunity to be part of a successful growth story like Infosys and work closely with a visionary and caring leadership like that of our founders, led by Narayana Murthy. In these years, I have grown with the organization, celebrated success, learned from the losses and have had the good fortune of working with the brightest minds in the industry. It did not take long for me to realize that this is a special company.

While many things have changed over the years, our core values, our pursuit of excellence and customer delight, employee-friendliness and tremendous personal sacrifice that each one at Infosys offers to ensure that our clients are successful, have remained the same. I am confident that with the consistent contributions from Infoscions and support from all stakeholders, we will be a global consulting giant and an organization that we can continue to be truly proud of, in the decades to come.