Nandan Nilekani: The five steps for success

Infosys CEO and managing director Nandan M. Nilekani spoke on “India’s chances in the era of globalisation” at a lecture series organised by the JSS Mahavidyapeetha in Mysore on Thursday.

India, he said, was well placed to reap the fruits of globalisation because it is not often that a bunch of concomitant factors—technological prowess, a young population, high savings rate, and global factors—stare at a nation all at the same time.

Nilekani spoke of how information technology had positively impacted the common man and woman of the country through railway reservation, tax information, the stock markets, voting systems, and banking systems.

But he said we need to take care not to repeat the mistakes of the west. He said we need to pay particular care about how we meet our energy needs, how we protect our environment, and how we take care of our health.

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Nilekani later took questions from the audience. One question from a student was about the five steps he would prescribe for business success. Nilekani said:

1) Have a clear goal and focus: “When we set up Infosys under Narayana Murthy‘s leadership, we were very clear which industry we would focus on, what our value system would be, what our business model was, etcetera.”

2) If possible, assemble a team of people: “We were seven when we launched; six of us are still together. When there is more than one person, it enables different people to bring different skills to the table.”

3) Persevere, persevere, persevere: “Stay at it. We launched in 1981, but we went public only in 1993. It’s not a one-day thing. It’s a lifetime thing.”

4) Learn to deal with setbacks: “It is not always going to be a smooth path. You have to accept that there will be obstacles and hurdles. You need to learn to deal with them and overcome them.”

5) Don’t let success go to your head: “Success is temporary, tomorrow is another day.”