It was one of Narayanamurthy's most outspoken interviews. He spoke about Phaneesh, his exit from Infosys, how Infy handled it, Is Nandan capable of handling the UID project etc. The interview was on CNBC last night between 10:00-11:00p.m. Few excerpts from the interview.
Q: Do you think Infy can handle Nandan's Exit?
NRN: Let me give you an example. When Phaneesh left, we were worried. He was my favourite. He was one of the best Sales person this country has ever produced. When he left, Mohan(Mohandas Pai) stepped up. He was in London at that time. He clinched a very imporant deal. Losing Nandan creates a void but i am sure we'll handle it.
Q: What did you gift Nandan?
NRN: I wanted to gift him a laptop. But then my son Rohan, who is currently in Seattle, he is a microsoft fellow now doing his P.hd from Harvard. He called me and said, "Dad, what are you gifting?". I told him about the laptop and he said, "Dad,here in the US when basketball players retire, they are given a jersey with their number and Jersey. Can we do something like that?. I said it's a brilliant idea and we made some t-shirts with Nandan's name and number(2) and Infosys printed in the front.
Q: Was he happy?
NRN: Yes, he asked for some more. I think Shibu(Shibulal) gave him 4-5 t-shirts more.
Q: What are Nandan's strengths?
NRN: He is a great articulator. His command over English is the best in Infosys. He can bring consensus.
Q: So, you are losing a great articulator in Nandan. I am not saying Kris is not an articulator.
NRN: No, again as i said, we have some senior management who can handle this. Ashok Vemuri is very good at articulation. Bala, Mohan and others. We have a good team.
Q: Is Nandan very close to you since he is the youngest of you all?
NRN: Yes, he is close to me but most of us are around the same age. Kris was born in 1956 but he school date says 1955 since he was sent early to school as people were not able to tolerate his nuisance at home(Laughs). Nandan is 1956. Mohan again should be 1955. Nandan shares very close relationship with Sudha. Nandan never had a sister and considers Sudha as a sister.
Q: Can Nandan handle the UID project?
NRN: He is good but again this is government. There could be lot of conflict of interest, lot of chaos. We should judge him only after some time.
Q: Now with senior members leaving,how will Infy board look?
NRN: You see, i am leaving the chief mentor post in 2012, Rama should retire soon, couple of more people will retire around 2012, 2013.
Q: So, how will Infy board look after 2012? Will you have a non infoscion coming in as chairman?
NRN: Yes, why not? It is possible.
Q: How about an Non Indian? Non Infoscion and Non India?
NRN: Yes, possible.
Q: Are you considering K.V.Kamath to replace you?
NRN: I have interacted a lot with KV. He made a great presentation on how he wants ICICI to be sometime during my stint with ICICI as board of directors. I have had lot of discussions with him. But again, we are not considering anyone at this point of time. There is a selection commitee board and we have a fantastic person as its chairman. I don't want to suppress him and give my opinion.
Q: So, what will be Nandan's relationship with Infosys?
NRN: I guess both Infosys and Nandan will have to maintain a distance. Nandan knows his boundaries and so does Infoscions.
Q: Are you saying there will be a chinese wall?
NRN: Yes, of course.
I wish everyone reading this had a chance to watch the entire interview.