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Quit Infosys so that others can grow: Pai

Mohandas Pai has served Infosys Technologies for 17 years as board member and HR chief.

Written by Debojyoti Ghosh |
April 16, 2011 1:50:01 am

After serving Infosys Technologies for 17 years,board member and HR chief T Mohandas Pai has stepped down,to provide opportunities to a new breed of leaders. In an interview with FE’s Debojyoti Ghosh,Pai shares plan of his new role as a policy and opinion maker in the education sector and his memories with the firm and mentor N R Narayana Murthy.

What prompted you to take this decision?

This is not a sudden decision for me. I was thinking about it from the last one year. I served Infosys for 17 years and after so many years of work you want to ask yourself whether you are still enjoying it or not. I want to do something different now.

Don’t you think Infy needs you?

I would like to believe it does,but if you are in a leadership position you always need to think that the company should carry on irrespective of someone,which means after sometime you have to vacate the chair for others to come in. Everybody has certain aspirations to grow. You have to give them that chance. Infosys certainly has wonderful people who are doing some good work. It is important that they should come up and be given a visible face. It’s always good to leave at a time when people don’t want you to leave.

What do you plan to do next?

I’m not going to work full time. I want to spend 30% of my time in the corporate world. I plan to join boards of three or four companies,but I have not decided yet. But whatever I join should have a systematic influence on India. It’s not just about business alone. I will spend some time on the higher education area to build new policies and make sure students have better universities and better colleges for higher education. They should have better training to get good jobs. Many of us have to get involved to start these initiatives. Hopefully,I will be joining the boards of four or five universities and work with them to expand. The rest of the time I want to spend with my wife and children.

Murthy’s official statement said you are looking at a larger role in public life and nation building. Can you could elaborate on your new public role?

I’m not joining politics. I’m politically neutral. My ideology is of an open society and a very liberal democracy. I’m a very independent person,I speak my mind. I don’t think any political party will like me. For me,higher education is the most important factor in India. I want to work in that area alone. My role will involve policy making to create a liberalised education system. It will involve working with people who want to set up colleges and universities,create more research options and open up the higher education system in the country. Education is the best way to build a nation.

What was Murthy’s reaction to your resignation?

Murthy persuaded me to stay on. He asked me whether I wanted to be the CEO or CFO. I said,no that is not my aspiration. He likes me very much,we worked together. He was my CEO when I joined Infosys. It was a small company that time. We went on road shows together,we met investors together. It has been a fantastic journey. He was a great mentor. In fact,he told the board that Mohan is like my son. We had a father-son relationship. I think he understands my decision. It is now time for a change.

What is the succession plan?

There won’t be any single person who will be taking over my role. I had individual people handling different roles. I was just governing them. Now all the departments under me will be handled by the existing heads and they will report to individual board members. But which department head will report to which board member has not been decided.

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