Tech Genius, Innovator, Conservation Champion: The Story of Phaneesh Murthy

With over three decades of experience across the global technology and business services industry, Phaneesh Murthy is the embodiment of resilience and innovation. With an innate ability to foresee industry trends and challenges, he has consistently led with innovative ideas that have helped shape the future of tech.

Early Career and Work

Phaneesh Murthy

Armed with a B-Tech from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, and an MBA from the prestigious Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, Murthy was always primed to shoot for the stars.

His influence was evident during his tenure at Sonata, a software start up, where he gained his first taste of shaping technological landscapes. However, it was during his time at Infosys that his impact truly reverberated. As the Worldwide Head of Sales & Marketing and Product Solutions Group, he played a pivotal role in pioneering the Global Delivery Model (GDM) – a framework for distributed project management and multi-location engagement teams. “The concept was that we can take a project and split various parts of it down and do a large chunk of that from a lower cost location and thereby reduce the overall cost of the project,” said Murthy. “Honestly, many of the industry analysts just didn’t believe it at that time. And it didn’t matter to me because I believed it. I was in and we created a huge company.”

This revolutionary approach transformed Infosys from a fledgling company with under $2 million in revenue in 1992 to a staggering $750 million in 2002. His strategic awareness not only propelled Infosys to the forefront of the tech industry but also solidified India’s position as a global tech hub.

On to greener pastures, Murthy’s next chapter unfolded at Quintant, a startup he co-founded. Six months after its creation, the company’s acquisition by iGATE brought his visionary leadership to the fore once again. At iGATE, he oversaw the acquisition of Patni Computers, which was three times its size at the time and was the largest cross-border leveraged transaction in the IT sector. Guiding iGATE’s transition from negative margins to a 25% operating margin and an enterprise value of $4.8 billion once again showcased his knack for turning challenges into opportunities.

A Burgeoning Consulting Empire

While Phaneesh Murthy has been behind some of the biggest technology turnarounds in the last three decades, his influence as a consultant and board member continues to help companies increase revenue and enterprise value.

His role as a board member and advisor currently extends to a handful of companies, including Opus Consulting, Cigniti, and Primentor, Inc. Murthy’s guidance isn’t confined to a single industry; rather, it spans technology, operations, and beyond. His contributions empower organizations to navigate challenges, innovate, and achieve sustainable growth. “My involvement is not supposed to be putting out the daily fires kind of a model,” he said. “But having said that, it just tends to be the more strategic fires.”

Primentor, Inc. – Murthy’s latest brainchild, is a forward-thinking consultancy that empowers senior executives to embrace effective strategies for growth. At its heart, Primentor focuses on bridging the gap between technology and operations, delivering tangible benefits to businesses. Murthy’s innovative iTOPS (Integrated Technology & Operations) model, developed during his tenure at iGATE, is a cornerstone of Primentor’s approach. This model reshapes how companies operate by seamlessly integrating technology and operations, resulting in enhanced efficiency and performance.

Murthy’s approach at Primentor hinges on a series of crucial offerings:

Current State Assessment:

Primentor undertakes a comprehensive evaluation of an organization’s existing technological and operational landscape. By employing proprietary frameworks, this assessment encompasses industry benchmarking and gap analysis, revealing areas ripe for enhancement.

To-Be Operating Model Design:

Primentor excels in crafting business models that are both efficient and cost-effective. Through re-engineering and automation of operations, coupled with the right-sizing of teams and structures, Primentor ensures optimal alignment with desired outcomes.

Migration War-Room Support:

Primentor also provides dedicated support. This includes the establishment of a program management office, which serves as a guiding force throughout the journey to the new operating model.

The Next Big Thing

Always on the lookout for ways in which he can leave a mark on the industry, Murthy currently has his sights set on Artificial Intelligence. “I think the whole concept of this generative AI is something which I’ve been doing a fair amount of work and research on and that’s keeping me quite busy,” he said.

“So I think the question of generative AI is the ability to do things like software development itself. That means I can use AI to write the next code. Can I use AI to automate everything that you might be interacting with?”

Murthy is not only fascinated by the disruptive power of AI but also by the social and ethical implications that arise with it. He understands that as AI continues to advance, its potential impact on society raises important questions about ethics, privacy, and accountability. Striking a balance between technological progress and responsible AI implementation will be crucial to navigate these complex challenges.

The Man of Steel

Murthy’s mental strength has been a driving force behind his remarkable achievements as a business leader. Through relentless perseverance and a willingness to confront his fears head-on, he has not only transformed his approach but has also revolutionized entire industries. When asked about how he overcomes obstacles, he replied saying, “Can I perform well when I’m not yet comfortable with certain things? And the answer has been what I have done. So, I used to be scared of heights. I then went and did some skydiving and cliff jumping.”

Murthy’s keen understanding of his mind-body connection has allowed him to navigate challenges with a unique perspective, turning hurdles into opportunities. This self-awareness has not only fortified his personal journey but has also empowered him to reshape traditional business paradigms.

Saving The World Beyond Technology

Beyond his remarkable achievements in the business realm, Phaneesh Murthy has also emerged as a dedicated advocate for wildlife conservation, particularly the protection of endangered tigers in India. Recognizing the critical threat posed to these majestic creatures by habitat loss and poaching, Murthy embarked on a mission to safeguard their future.

His philanthropic efforts include collaborating with private and government organizations to support initiatives aimed at preserving tiger populations. Notably, he pioneered the use of thermal drones to monitor and combat poaching activities, employing technology as a powerful tool in the fight for conservation. Murthy’s commitment to preserving the natural world showcases his multifaceted impact, extending beyond boardrooms and businesses to safeguard the planet’s biodiversity for generations to come.

When he’s not busy saving endangered tigers or disrupting the tech industry, Murthy enjoys the thrill of unique experiences and the occasional round of golf. “One of my recent trips was to complete my bucket list, in Antarctica. It was an absolutely outstanding experience. Being so up close and personal with nature, with the whales dancing around you.”

“These are all fantastic experiences in life that very few people have the opportunity to go through. I saw killer whales killing a sea lion, hunting in a pack. These are all things that are HD in your mind, forever,” said Murthy.

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