Nandan Nilekani wears many hats with ease. A technocrat, entrepreneur, and educationist par excellence, he currently serves as the Chairman of the Government’s ambitious UIDA. He also serves on the Board of Governors of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay, and heads the government’s technology committee.
His Childhood and Education
Nandan Nilekani was born on the 2nd of June 1955 in Sirsi, Karnataka. His only sibling is brother, Vijay, who’s senior to Nandan by eight years. His parents, Durga and Manohar Nilekani, moved to Bangalore where Manohar served as the General Manager of Mysore and Minerva Mills.
Nandan spent the first 12 years of his life in Bangalore, where he studied at Bishop Cotton Boys’ School, Bangalore. Due to his father’s frequent transfers, the family relocated to Dharwar, where Nandan joined St. Joseph’s High School. He joined the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, from where he graduated in 1978 with a degree in Electrical Engineering.
Coming from a small town, Nandan found it difficult to adjust to city life at IIT. He later found his forte in organising college events like the IIT fest, Mood Indigo. It was at IIT that Nandan met his future wife, Rohini.
His Early Career
Upon graduating from IIT, Nandan attended an interview at Patni Computers. He was interviewed by N R Narayana Murthy, who was to later become his mentor, guide and philosopher. Nandan and Narayana Murthy worked together from 1978-1981. When Narayana Murthy left Patni Computers, his entire division also resigned.
What followed next was the success story of Infosys. Infosys went on from strength to strength from extremely humble beginnings and fledgling seed capital. It was the enthusiasm, commitment, hard work and organisational skills of the early Infoscians – Narayana Murthy, S D Shibulal, Nandan Nilekani , N S Raghavan and Kris Gopalakrishnan that saw the company become the face of India’s IT industry over the next two decades.
His Career at Infosys
Nandan Nilekani became the Chief Executive Officer of Infosys in March 2002 upon Narayana Murthy’s relinquishing the post. In 2007, as per the succession policy at Infosys, he relinquished his post to Kris Gopalakrishnan and assumed the mantle of Co-Chairman.
In 2009, Nandan Nilekani was appointed as head of the Unique Identification Authority of India with the rank of Cabinet Minister, a position which he currently holds.
His Other Achievements
Nandan Nilekani was the co founder of NASSCOM and of the Bangalore chapter of TIE (The Indus Entrepreneurs)
With a personal worth of USD 1.3 billion, he was named one of the top 100 influential people in the world by TIME magazine
He was among the youngest invitees among the top 20 global leaders at the 2006 World Economic forum
Nandan Nilekani has been named the Forbes “Businessman of the Year” for Asia in 2007, Fortune Magazine’s ‘Asia’s Businessman of the Year 2003’, and the Corporate Citizen of the Year at the Asia Business Leader Awards (2004) organized by CNBC
Nandan has been awarded Yale University’s Legend in Leadership Award (2009) and the Joseph Schumpeter Prize for innovative services in economy, economic sciences and politics (2005)
He holds an honorary Doctor of Law Degree awarded by the University of Toronto
A grateful country awarded him one of the highest civilian honours, the Padma Bhushan in 2006