Narayana Murthy says Mohandas Pai fell to own policy

Last Updated: Mon, May 02, 2011 04:52 hrs

TV Mohandas Pai, former director of human resources and administration, may have quit Infosys in a hurry, hardly suppressing his anger while questioning the process for selecting the CEO.

But that is not the end of the story. N R Narayana Murthy, Infosys chairman and chief mentor, said Pai, though on a par with SD Shibulal in all respects, fell to his own 'policy' that gave preference to duration of tenure in the company. Shibulal was on Saturday named the next CEO.

In an interview to Business Standard, Murthy, who co-founded Infosys with six others in 1981, said Pai lost to Shibulal because of an HR module for career progression that he himself had created. He said while Pai was a contender for the CEO's post, Shibulal had been with the company for a longer period.

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"We have a programme, iRace, which is an HR module for promotions and growth. In that, we have clearly said that with other things remaining equal, the person who has had a longer tenure will be promoted. This system was championed by the director-in-charge of HR (Pai). So, I am not saying anything that is different," he said.

"If there are two people who are as capable as each other, how will you choose one of them? Both are equal in all respects. So, you have to choose the experienced one, and that’s what we have done," he said.

Murthy said the fact that Pai questioned the selection process reflected that "we all lose our rational thinking and make emotional statements at times".

"We must be very kind to him (Pai) because at times we all lose our rational thinking and make an emotional statement. After all, we have to be very kind and forgiving," he said.

Murthy said the selection process was transparent and Jeff Lehman, the selection committee chief, made this clear. "Yes, of course, the CEO selection process was quite transparent and Jeff Lehman clarified about this. That's the end of it," he said.

Asked if such comments from a board member affect the organisation's reputation, Murthy said such things happened once in a while. "We are living in an open society and, therefore, I think once in a while these things happen."

He, however, said Pai should be given credit for taking back his statement.

Also See: Narayana Murthy on the lessons life has taught him

Referring to Pai's statement denying that he was interested in the CEO's post, Murthy said there was no point in raising the issue as there was no one at the senior level (besides Pai and Shibulal) who was considered for the post.

"Let's give credit that the same person gave a statement that there was no transparency and then took it back. And then, he also said that no 'I am not interested in becoming the CEO' and then drew a comparison between founders and non-founders. Because, there was nobody else at that level who was being considered (for the CEO’s post)," Murthy said.

In an interview to a newspaper on April 19, Pai had said that experience and longevity of tenure in the company preceded merit. "What goes against me? Seniority. You are discriminated against because the founders have spent longer years," he said.

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