I love the guest speakers that Fuqua brings in. Recently, the former Chairman and CEO of Infosys, Narayana Murthy came to the school to discuss lessons in leadership as part of the Distinguished Speaker Series and the Duke India Business Forum.
Murthy is a very well-respected business leader, and in 2011, he was awarded the Forbes Lifetime Achievement Award. I first heard about Murthy when I saw a 60 Minutes special on the Indian Institute of Technology, an engineering school which Murthy graduated from. But Murthy’s son could not get in. He instead went to Cornell.
I also remember my family telling me that Murthy is extremely humble, living in a modest flat in Calcutta, India, and living his life as he did when he was fresh out of college. He donates lots of money to various organizations and sits on the board of several successful companies.
So I was extremely excited to hear Murthy speak at Fuqua. As expected, the auditorium was standing room only. A large number of Asians attended to show support for their fellow compatriot.
Fuqua Dean Bill Boulding moderated the conversation with Murthy. Boulding asked a set of questions about Murthy’s journey and the current business and tech landscapes. Then, Q&A was opened up to the audience.
Murthy revealed that success in the private sector extends beyond the bottom-line. He believes a business can make money and still have a positive impact on society. He called himself a “compassionate capitalist.”
A key takeaway from the discussion: Murthy’s definition of success is “the ability to walk into a room and make people smile.”