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In Infosys,it’s founders vs professionals: Pai

T V Mohandas Pai,said he does not agree with founder N R Narayana Murthy’s principle.

Written by P Vaidyanathan Iyer | New Delhi |
April 19, 2011 2:36:49 am

T V Mohandas Pai,Infosys board member,who decided to hang up his boots after 17 years at the country’s most celebrated IT company,today said he does not agree with founder N R Narayana Murthy’s principle of rewarding seniority instead of picking the best person to lead the company.

“What goes against me? Seniority. You are discriminated against because the founders have spent longer years,” Pai told The Indian Express from Bengaluru. “I know the law,so long as the founders are there,professionals who are late entrants will not get a chance.” Within Infosys and outside too,there was talk that Pai was one of the most deserving candidates to be the company’s next CEO.

According to Pai,Murthy had,in an interview to a business newspaper,said if there are two very capable people,both fit to take on leadership roles,the one who has served for longer,would be the choice. “I don’t agree… you have to go by the person best suited for leadership over the next five years,” he said.

Infosys was founded by Murthy and six other engineers,Nandan Nilekani,S Gopalakrishnan,S D Shibulal,K Dinesh,N S Raghavan and Ashok Arora,way back in 1981.

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While Arora sold his shares to the other promoters in 1988 to go to the US,Raghavan retired as joint managing director in 2000. Nilekani quit as CEO in 2009 to become UIDAI chairman and was replaced by Gopalakrishnan. Dinesh quit as board member along with Pai,leaving Shibulal in the fray for donning the CEO’s mantle from among the original promoters.

Pai joined Infosys in 1994 as the Head of Finance,and by Murthy’s logic is more than a decade behind Infy co-founders Gopalakrishnan and Shibulal. He became a board member in 2000 and having served as the chief financial officer for 12 years voluntarily stepped down in 2006 to handle HR,education and research functions in the company.

“I have sold my life to Infosys for the last 17 years,working 12-14 hours a day. The more I stay,the more I will deprive other younger professionals from coming up. I will be happy sitting outside,” Pai said. He said he would never work with any other rival IT company but plans to work closely with the government at the policy level.

“The tragedy of our system is there is no choice for those studying in government schools. We need to open up our education system,encourage institutions to become bigger,and overhaul the system such that students have buying power,” he said. Pai,who is on the board of some universities,hopes to help people set up universities.

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