Infosys Wives

by Guruprasad

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The legendary Infosys wives in the initial days.

From left to right: Mrs.Kumari Shibulal, Mrs.Rohini Nilekani & Mrs. Sudha Murthy.

In one of the previous pics, we saw how the Infosys couples met and got married.

We had questions like how did their wives play significant roles during the founding of Infosys.
Lets discuss that today.

During the initial days, most of the founders (NRN, Nandan, Dinesh and others) were into writing codes day in and day out. Sudha being from a technical background, helped them in every aspect including writing code, acting as a clerk, secretary, office assitant etc. At the same time, Rohini and Mrs Gopalkrishna were also into helping them in administration work. During the night, when Sudha used to help the founders technically in coding, Rohini used to look after Sudha’s children. Mrs Shibulal used to cook for everybody.

They had a tough time juggling between work and family life (especially the ladies since they had an additional burden of housekeeping too) but they made sure they have some fun too, by going for outings once in a while. Sudha Murthy was happy with her new career and was looking forward to making it big and being part of the IT revolution. After a few months, Narayana Murthy posed a difficult decision to the Infosys wives. He said that only one person from each family should be involved i.e Either him or Sudha (and similarly either Nandan or Rohini). It was a collecive decision taken by the founders. This was because they felt that in order to make Infosys a success, each person has to give his 100%. At the same time, they wanted to make sure that family values are also taken care, which meant one person should focus only on Infosys and the other on family.
Narayana Murthy even offered to Sudha that if she wants to take up the responsibility of working for Infosys, then he is ready to take care of children.

Sudha was in a fix. She was happy with her career taking off and she was also happy to take care of her kids. She thought about this for days and finally came to a conclusion. She realized that Infosys was NRN’s dream and if he was allowed to work on his dream, he would create lakhs of new careers in India. Whereas if she asks him to take care of kids and work for the company, she would be fulfilling her ambition of having a good career for herself.
So the choice was

-Whether to realize her dream and get herself a vibrant career.
-Whether to allow NRN to realize his dream and create lakhs of careers.

She chose the latter and finally agreed to take care of the family (Similarly the other wives also agreed and allowed their husbands to focus on work while they provided motivation and took care of homes). But she had no regrets because she knew that her decision would eventually prove to be the best decision ever. If Infosys has created more than a lakh jobs today, part of the credit goes to Sudha for having taken that decision of stepping back and allowing NRN in the driver’s seat.

The most thought provoking part in this story is about the sacrifice of women. It is not just Sudha Murthy, but millions of women who are making sacrifices everyday, keeping their interests aside and supporting their husbands to achieve their dreams. They sacrifice their comfort for their children.
They sacrifice their ambitions to run their homes. But at the same time, when the situation demands, they have come forward and done hard work and even done men’s jobs. For example, we saw Ningamma working as a bus driver to run her home:

Now, coming back to the Infosys story, after this tough decision was taken, the husbands focussed totally on developing the company. Was it a smooth ride? Did the license raj and govt red tape affect the growth of Infosys? Since growing a company involves lot of risks and living in austerity and success is never guaranteed, did the founders ever feel like giving up and joining stable jobs? (They could have easily got General Manager jobs in any company).
All these questions will be answered using different photos and narrations later :)