Global business titan and Infosys innovator shares insights
N.R. Narayana Murthy, co-founder and former
CEO of Infosys and an emeritus trustee
of Cornell University, offered a retrospective
look at his remarkable career, as well as
timely advice, in an address to Johnson
MBA students and the Cornell University
community, Sept. 10, 2012. Murthy, a
key figure in the emergence of India as a
provider of global technology and businessprocess
outsourcing needs, addressed a
packed house at the Alice Statler Auditorium
as Johnson Distinguished Global Speaker.
As a central figure in the globalization of the offshore technology and services delivery market, Murthy is in a unique position to trace the evolution of globalization, and to draw appropriate lessons for today’s business students and practitioners. Here are some of the most important lessons he conveyed to the audience:
- Globalization is just beginning. In the first phase of globalization, businesses in the U.S. and Western Europe sought new partners in Asia, particularly India and China. Now, Murthy explained, India is opening businesses in other developing countries. The next phase of globalization will be multipolar, with India serving as a hub for technology, consulting, and other business-process services for countries all over the world.
- The world will keep getting flatter. In 1981, when Murthy co-founded Infosys, the world’s largest corporations were almost exclusively U.S. corporations. Today, while America remains in many ways the center of the business world, there are opportunities in many other countries, as well. What this trend means for business students is that international experience, cross-cultural learning, and a cosmopolitan approach are becoming more important to business education and business practice.
- Creative entrepreneurship is now a core component of the business mentality. The era of people settling down into corporate jobs for decades is over; even Infosys, which is regularly rated as the most admired company in India, is a jumping-off point for employees who go on to found their own companies and explore business opportunities all over the world. Increasingly, people are forging their own futures in business by bringing an entrepreneurial mindset to whatever they do; even people who are not entrepreneurs, per se, find ways to innovate and deliver new kinds of value within a corporate structure.
Murthy’s messages resonate closely with what Frans Johansson, management consultant and author of The Medici Effect and The Click Moment, told the MBA Class of ’14 in his discussion of diversity, innovation, and the future of business when he came to campus Aug. 7 to deliver a presentation sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Both Murthy and Johansson succeeded in business by solving the challenges of a changing world, and both gave Cornell MBA students important tips about how to thrive in this world. The take-home message of the Murthy and Johansson talks was essentially the same: innovation, connection, and globalization are the three key components of success for both individuals and businesses in the 21st century.
Murthy has deep connections to Cornell University through his two terms of distinguished service on Cornell’s Board of Trustees, on which he served with the committees on academic affairs, student life, finance, alumni affairs and development, and intellectual property. Murthy’s son, Rohan Murthy ’05, graduated from Cornell University with an engineering degree. In addition to his role as chairman emeritus of Infosys, Murthy serves as an independent director on the boards of HSBC, Unilever, and other corporations.