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Job for Rohan Murty: To make his father ‘more effective’ for 5 years

Rohan Murty currently holds 1.38 per cent of Infosys Ltd shares,valued at Rs 1,900 crore

It was not clear if a sonrise was witnessed at Infosys on Saturday after the company announced that 29-year-old Rohan Murty would be executive assistant to his father N R Narayana Murthy in his new innings at Infy’s helm.

What was indeed clear,is that having a ringside view of the global IT industry over the next five years would allow Rohan to assess if he’s cut out to move into the ‘heir apparent’ mode in the same way as Rishad Premji,the son of Azim Premji,at Bangalore’s other IT giant,Wipro Ltd.

Rishad is currently the chief strategy officer for Wipro’s IT business.

The official announcement of Murthy’s return as executive chairman said: “Mr Narayana Murthy intends to create the Chairman’s office to assist him during his tenure and has requested the Board to permit him to put together a team for this function. The team will include his son,Dr Rohan Murty,as Mr Narayana Murthy’s executive assistant.”

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“If appointed,Mr Rohan Murty’s term as Executive Assistant to the Chairman would be co-terminus with that of Mr Narayana Murthy. Mr Rohan Murty has requested that he should also be paid only a token compensation of Rupee One per year.”

Narayana Murthy has denied that his son’s entry into Infosys is a step towards grooming him for a leadership role. But the induction is nonetheless seen as preparation for a time when the founder CEOs and the first generation of employee CEOs move out of top executive positions at Infosys.

Rohan Murty currently holds 1.38 per cent of Infosys Ltd shares,valued at Rs 1,900 crore.

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“I have been away from executive responsibilities for the last seven years and therefore not in touch with the youth of Infosys as I would like,” Murthy said on Saturday,explaining why his son had to be brought in as his assistant.

“When I turned 65 I had decided that I would do things in the company of those whose company I enjoyed most. Along with a set of bright individuals including my son we set up Catamaran Investments. When the board asked me to come back I thought the effective way to add value to Shibulal is to use the competencies of a small team of people I have been interacting with in the last three years and one of them is my son Rohan,” he said.

“There is no leadership role for Rohan,” Murthy clarified. “His only role is to be my executive assistant and to make me more effective over five years.”

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The academically distinguished Rohan Murty is a Junior Fellow in the Society of Fellows at Harvard. He has a PhD in computer science from the same university,and a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Cornell.

Rohan,who is married to Lakshmi Venu of the Chennai-based TVS Motors family,has held fellowships at MIT,Caltech and Microsoft Research,and has authored several papers and patents as part of his research on wireless and mobile computing.

He grew up missing his father in his early years as Narayana Murthy remained consumed by the passion to make Infosys a success,and he has subsequently grown to understand how important the company is to his father. “Our entire lives he has had only two passions,one is my mother and the other is Infosys,’’ Rohan said in a speech given in August 2011 when Narayana Murthy first retired.

Murthy himself considers Rohan — born in 1983 — as his “third child”,after daughter Akshata Murty,who was born in 1978,and Infosys,which was created in 1981.

Among the favorite quotes of Narayana Murthy in Rohan Murty’s book are “In god we trust,everybody else brings data to the table”,“Progress is often equal to the difference between mind and mindset” and,“The softest pillow is a clear conscience”.

First published on: 02-06-2013 at 02:07:42 am
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