Meritocracy Is the Model

Infosys reinvents India's corporate culture, valuing data and democracy over old family ties

Michael Rubenstein / Redux for TIME

S. Gopalakrishnan, Kris, CEO of Infosys and Nandan Nilekani, Co-Chairman of the Board of Directors lounge by the pool at the ITC Maurya Hotel in Delhi, India.

So many big indian companies remain family-run that their board meetings might as well be held at the dinner table. Not so at Infosys. Founded in 1981 by seven engineers--none of them related--the Bangalore-based company has become not only a $3 billion-plus technology-services giant but also the epitome of the modern, professionally managed Indian firm, with a culture of meritocracy based on the idea that anyone could be boss.

S. Gopalakrishnan, one of the founders and the current CEO, says Infosys built that culture from the ground up. "We said, If we're going to make it a success, there have to...

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