Global Business Titan, Early Innovator, Shares Insights with Johnson MBA Students


N.R. Narayana Murthy, co-founder and former CEO of Infosys, addresses students on the Cornell University campus

Global Business Titan, Early Innovator, Shares Insights with Johnson MBA Students

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, on September 10, 2012, in an address to Johnson MBA students and the Cornell University community. Murthy, a global business titan and a key figure in the emergence of India as a provider of global technology and business-process outsourcing needs, spoke to a packed house at the Alice Statler Auditorium, as part of the Distinguished Global Speakers series at the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management.

As a central figure in the globalization of the offshore technology and services delivery market, Murthy is 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 parts of 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 fates 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 address may be viewed in its entirety on CornellCast.

Murthy’s messages resonate closely with what Frans Johansson recently told the MBA Class of ’14.  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 the Board of Trustees, which led to his 2011 election as trustee emeritus. As a trustee, Murthy 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.   Murthy also serves as chairman emeritus of Infosys and as an independent director on the boards of HSBC, Unilever, and other corporations.