Infosys is in the news for all the wrong reasons. Taking a beating on the bourses is at best, temporary and that doesn't mean its long-term vision gets blurred. Infosys is a "temple of knowledge", and both, temple and knowledge don't disintegrate just like that. They actually grow. In fact, Infosys is looking far ahead into the future with an upcoming new facility at Mysore that will train and build their global leaders of tomorrow.
Dr. G.K. Jayaram is the key person in this idea of setting up the Infosys Leadership Institute (ILI) and will be its Director. In fact not many know that Dr. Jayaram was associated with the idea of Infosys, at the seed level in Pune. His association with the Narayana Murthy family goes back many, many years and it was "the fondness and immense respect for my old friend" that made him return to his hometown of Bangalore, after 30 long years in the US.
A gold medallist from the prestigious Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, Dr. Jayaram set off for the land of opportunity armed with a Ford Foundation scholarship. Thereafter, his career was into management consulting and today, his rich experience is unfolding at the altar of the great temple itself.
Dr. Jayaram explains the concept behind the Infosys Leadership System, "The vision of Infosys is to develop global leaders at all levels - strategic, business or operational. Our aim is to distill the system with knowledge already available within the company." To elaborate on the relationship between the Leadership Institute and the Leadership System, Dr. Jayaram makes it interesting by saying, "An individual can go to a temple to worship, but doesn't have to worship only in a temple. Worship can be anywhere. Therefore, leadership development can take place in all kinds of places but the temple in this case, will be the Institute."
The development activity will focus on two major strategies and one of these is called the Internal Synergy model, which has had spectacular success in leadership development in the US. The knowledge system is different from the teaching methods of the IIMs. Apart from a faculty team that is in the process of being recruited, the senior management of the company, totaling to about 30, would play the role of professors. "We are expanding the role of the present leaders by asking them to become teachers," he explains. Starting at the top, the Chairman, the President, the Internal Board of Directors and the Managing Committee of Infosys have committed three days each month to teach at this leadership development institute. "This would include actual teaching mechanisms, discussions, debates and so on," says Dr. Jayaram. "They will be teaching future leaders. And if the recruitment has been good, the future leaders will debate with them on the soundness of their propositions. And when they walk out, both will be enriched," he adds.
Dr. Jayarm's earliest consulting client in the US was Procter & Gamble, where he spent nearly five years in their soap and paper division. His other clients include AT&T, Bell Laboratories, Cemex, Mexico - the third largest Cement Company in the world; and many more where he was deeply involved in their change processes. He also taught at Stanford University's Executive Management programs for some years; the US Navy Post-Graduate School; at UCLA and so on. So, with Dr. Jayaram's consulting background resting on rock-solid foundations, he believes that this model, meaning exposure to senior management and involvement of senior management in leadership development is THE method that will create maximum impact.
The Infosys Leadership Institute is situated on a 218-acre land in Mysore - a less-than-three-hour drive from Bangalore. The first Phase will be commissioned by September of 2001. The sprawling campus will have besides classrooms, a large dormitory-type hostel and accommodation facilities for about 40 families. Infoscions from all over the world will be selected to train at this facility.
Traditional Indian businesses would have cried 'halt' to a new project in a volatile stock market situation playing ducks and drakes. But then, Infosys isn't just another traditional Indian company. Infoscions look at this as a challenge and at the far end they see the brightness of an opportunity.
Interestingly, the line below the name "Infosys" on the business card says, "Powered by Intellect. Driven by Values."
Dr. Jayaram personifies that vision.