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Nandan Nilekani ( 2nd June 1955): An Inspiring Entrepreneurial Journey



Nandan Nilekani.

The Co-founder of Infosys and Chairman of EkStep, Mr. Nandan Nilekani is a known face in the IT sector. Moreover, not long ago he has also served as the Chairman of Unique Identification Authority Of India (UIDAI), a project that would have been incomplete without his guidance.

Well, not only his life story but the journey of being chairman of such a big project (UIDAI) is not less than a roller-coaster ride. In this article, we have covered it all for you, so read till the very end & learn some good entrepreneurial life lesson

 I think failure can be extremely stressful if we are too caught up in it then it becomes even more difficult to deal with. so if you fail you should analyze why you fail, take a lesson and move on…

These words are quoted by Mr. Nandan Nilekani.


Nandan Nilekani: Early life

Nanda Nilekani was born on 2nd June 1955 in the small town of Sirsi situated in the
state of Karnataka. For basic school education, he went to Bishop Cotton Boys’ school in Bangalore. Born to Durga and Mohan Rao Nilekani at the age of 12 years Nandan had to go
and live with his uncle. Because his father’s job was such that they had to relocate quite often due to his transfers. These frequent transfers allowed him to meet different people and make new friends. Meeting new people interacting with them gave him confidence.

Confidence is a very important key to success if you struggling to build confidence we have got you covered! Do check out the link given below.

Well, this fact had a great impact on Nandan, he was inspired and decided to grow up to become an independent entrepreneur.

Little did he know that his dream was going to turn into reality.

After completing his schooling he went on to receive a degree in Electrical Engineering from IIT Bombay in 1978. It was this place that shaped Nandan from a small-town boy into a responsible person.

The learnings he took from IIT made him understand the importance of contributing one’s bit for the good of society. Once he completed his degree at IIT, Nandan cracked his first job at Patni computer systems which was based in Mumbai. It was the seventh-largest technology services firm in the country. Later, iGate bought Panti computer for $1.2bn. But before it all happened, Nandan Nilekani got the chance to meet Mr. Narayan Murthy and not only this, Nandan Nilekani was interviewed by him as well.

(More about Mr. Murthy: Nagavara Ramarao Narayana Murthy (20 August 1946) is an Indian billionaire businessman. He is the founder of Infosys and has been the chairman, CEO, president, and chief mentor of the company before retiring and taking the title chairman emeritus)

After working with Patni computer systems. Nandan Nilekani and five other members from the same company left the job to start their own company. Do you want to guess which company they started? 

Nandan Nilekani.

Nandan Nilekani- Image Source Infosys

Start of Bigger Picture:

The company they started was none other than Infosys technologies limited, which later became and still continues to be an IT giant in the country.  He and the team of five other members also went on to build the first software campus of India in Bangalore. Soon after laying the foundation of the company he went to the united states as the marketing face of Infosys.

In fact, before he became the CEO of Infosys in 2002, He served the firm taking up various roles such as Chief Operating Officer, President, and Managing Director. Mr. Nandan Nilekani by this time had become one of the top-notch faces of not only the IT sector but in the world of business too. Looking at his impressive career Nandan Nilekani was invited by the then prime minister of India Mr. Manmohan Singh to take up the role of a major project.

Well, who would say no to such once in a lifetime opportunity? He was given the responsibility to serve as the chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) Project. One of the biggest social projects in the world. He agreed to take up the responsibility and moved out of Infosys in 2009

Let us have a little sneak peek into his journey as a chairman of UIDAI:

As he took up the charge the first thing he did was to consult his friends from the same field about the practical aspect of registering a billion people in India under this social project (UIDAI). Once the Discussion was done, the next step involved finding the right people to create a team for building a new institution.

There was a need for such people within the government who knew technology well. And after a thorough process of selecting probable candidates to having a one-on-one session with the final candidates, the core team was selected.

Apart from Nandan Nilekani being the Chairman, Ram Sevak Sharma was appointed as the CEO, M.S Shrikar was as the Personal Secretary of Mr. Nandan Nilekani, and finally Ganga K as the Chief Financial Officer of the UIDAI project. As the chairman of this project, his main responsibility revolved around implementing a multi-purpose national identity card (Aadhar) in India for every eligible candidate.

Nandan Nilekani.

Nandan Nilekani- Image Source Ndlf

Today we know that it has been a huge success. UIDAI Project’s Aadhar card is the most important identity proof every Indian citizen should have. It is required for everything and is accepted in every part of the country.

Mr. Nandan as Political Leader:

After UIDAI’s successful implementation, Mr. Nandan shifted to Delhi and tried his hands in politics by entering the National Congress Party in 2014. He even contested election from the constituency of Bangalore south but lost against a BJP candidate. As a political leader, he worked for the welfare of people and understood the importance of authority, and came out as a reflective political leader.

The Neverending achievements list of Mr. Nandan:

The achievements list of Mr. Nandan Nilekani is long, from sitting on several advisory boards like the World Economic Forum Foundation and Bombay heritage fund to being the co-founder of NASSCOM. Nandan Nilekani’s entrepreneurial journey has been a rollercoaster ride. He is also part of The Asia pacific regional advisory board of the London business school and has served as a sub-committee member of SEBI.

A few of the many awards he has been felicitated with include, Distinguished alumnus by IIT Bombay, Padma Bhushan businessman of the year in 2007, Legend in leadership from yale university so on and so forth.

The Art of Giving, Perfected by Mr. Nandan Nilekani

A visionary in nature Mr. Nandan Nilekani is a businessman who understands the importance of giving back to society. Good education and infrastructure these sentiments are visible in his works as well. Not many know this but he’s also an active investor who has invested funds in more than 12 startups.

A philanthropist at heart. In 2017 he and his wife decided to donate 50 % of the wealth to The Giving Pledge. This is a campaign launched by Bill Gates to encourage extremely wealthy people to contribute a majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes.

This shows Mr. Nandan Nilekani’s seriousness towards enhancing the lives of people for the better.

The Robust Story Take:

We’ve seen in the journey above that Mr. Nandan Nilekani has been a great leader, a visionary, and an achiever in all walks of life. But the important learning from his journey that we should take along is, every businessman is called smart if he makes profits for himself, but a great entrepreneur is the one who believes in giving & helping others grown to achieve more.

Let’s add this trait to ourselves and help the individuals to grow more.

Must Read, Daily habits that can boost your confidence by 100%   

Believer of the quote that Humans can never stop learning, Shalini is a graduate in psychology and currently pursuing her Masters. She has donned many hats, from being a professional event manager, lifestyle brands influencer, to being content curator. Shalini is a versatile writer, her writing ranges from everyday motivation, social media quick hacks, brand stories to writing about inspiring individuals. Shalini leads the bandwagon as the CEO at Robust story.