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'Infosys will continue to run as usual'

Last updated on: June 26, 2009 12:26 IST
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Nandan Nilekani, the author of the book Imagining India, helped conjure the shape of what is now India's second largest IT services provider, Infosys Technologies, which he co-founded with five other tech professionals, including its current chairman, N R Narayana Murthy, in 1981.

Now, even as most IT services firms are trying to emerge out of a crippling global financial crisis, Nilekani is stepping down to take up a bigger cause -- heading a government project to provide a unique identity to each of India's citizens.

S Gopalakrishnan, the CEO and MD of Infosys and a co-founder of the company, tells Bibhu Ranjan Mishra what Nilekani's exit means for the company.

Edited excerpts:

What's the company's reaction to Nilekani's departure?

We will definitely miss him. He is the co-founder and had been with the company from the very beginning in various roles.

However, as a company we have made the transition of his role. His responsibility will now be taken care of by other people. The company will continue to run as usual.

Apart from his role as the board member and co-chairman, he had been responsible for managing certain clients and overseas branding activity, especially after he stepped down as the CEO and MD in 2007.

Besides, he had been spearheading some key initiatives we have taken up internally in terms of investment for the future. All his executive roles will now transition to other people with immediate effect.

Who will step into his shoes?

This will be decided by the Infosys board.

Nilekani's role will now be very different...

He is definitely confident of doing this. I have no doubt on his vision and ability to build consensus to execute various projects.

He is a kind of person who gets along with people, and I am quite confident that he will manage things quite effectively in his new role.

What will happen to the shares currently held by Nilekani and his family?

Nandan and his family hold about 3.4 per cent stake in the company, and he will continue to hold that.

Will you bid for the national ID project which will now be headed by Nilekani?

It's too early to comment on whether we will bid or not. We don't know how things will be executed over a period of time.

But we are currently bidding for various e-governance projects and have also bagged a few. We will continue to work in the e-governance sector.

Don't you think that your bidding for the project and ultimate selection (if it happens) will raise doubts about the transparency of the bidding process?

I don't think he (Nilekani) being the chairperson of the Unique Identification Authority of India will affect the transparency of the bidding process in any way. He is a person of high dignity and integrity. He is being seen as a business leader and a technocrat.

I don't think his past association with Infosys will raise any kind of doubt about his honesty and integrity and the transparency of the project.

Will you approach Nilekani for his guidance whenever the company needs it in future?

As a friend, I am sure he is always available to us. But between Infosys and him, he is like any other person outside of Infosys.

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