It was an emotional walk down memory lane for Nandan Mohan Nilekani, 54, as he logged out on Thursday as co-chairman and member of the Board of Infosys Technologies Ltd.
Dressed in a blue T-shirt with the company logo, Nilekani spent the day meeting colleagues and handed out advice to take the IT behemoth to the next level in performance and reputation. He also sent out an e-mail mentioning his “difficult and gut wrenching decision” to part ways with a “family” with which he spent almost three decades.
“I firmly believe my learning and experiences at Infosys will help me pursue and contribute to a larger cause and I am thankful to each of you for making this journey so special,” read the e-mail, according to one of his colleagues.
In the evening, Nilekani, accompanied by wife Rohini, daughter Janhavi and son Nihaar, joined other founder members — N R Narayana Murthy, N S Raghavan, S Gopalakrishnan, S D Shibulal and K Dinesh — and their families at a formal send-off.
“It was a big event. It was web-cast for all our colleagues across the world. On our campus, more than 5,000 watched it in the auditorium and on special video screens in different wings. It was an emotional moment for all,” T V Mohandas Pai, head of HR and Board member, told HT.
Nilekani reminisced some of the tough moments the firm had to endure during its formative years, and complimented co-founders for their patience and perseverance. He explained the contours of his new assignment — chairperson of the Unique Identification Authority of India — and how it would help the government track benefits announced to various sections of society.
In a speech laced with anecdotes, Narayana Murthy recalled his three-decade-long friendship with Nilekani, who was among seven enterprising young men who launched the IT firm on July 2, 1981, in Pune.
It was originally called Infosys Consultants Pvt Ltd, Pune, and later moved its headquarters to Bangalore.
According to colleagues, Nilekani was handpicked by the PM to head the new entity in recognition of his contribution to the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission and other related areas of public policy.
He also played a key role in drawing a new profile of the “India Everywhere” campaign organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry at the World Economic Summit in Davos in 2006.