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Interview with Vishal Sikka, CEO of Infosys, from the World Economic Forum 2017

Following are excerpts from a CNBC interview with Vishal Sikka, CEO of Infosys, from the World Economic Forum 2017 with Geoff Cutmore and Steve Sedgwick.

GC: Yes, absolutely, Karen, and clearly Donald Trump is already acting as a disruptor when it comes to many businesses that sell into the United States, and IT one area and industry that has not been left untouched by Donald Trump's Twitter feed. So what is the implications of what he's had to say for a company like Infosys? With is, Vishal Sikka, the man who runs that business. Vishal, nice to see you.

VS: Great to be here.

GC: How worried are you by Donald Trump's twitter feed these days?

VS: My sense is that, you know, the President Elect himself is an entrepreneur and, you know, business man, and I expect the government to be an innovation friendly, business friendly, entrepreneurship friendly administration, so as long as we focus on delivering value, and delivering innovation, we'll be okay.

GC: But will he be friendly to companies that US businesses outsource to? And the US is your largest market.

VS: It is, in fact we do about 62% of our business in the US, and we do expect that there'll be changes to the visa policy, and that could have a short-term impact, but in the long run, I think that looking at what is going on in the world around us, with digital and artificial intelligence, I think that if we stay focused on delivering value to our clients, hiring locally, I mean, I am a US citizen, you know, I am a rather high level Infosys local hire, and so we have to hire locally, we have to strengthen the local markets, whether it is the US or also Australia.

SS: There's a problem here though, isn't there? Changes to the immigration policy is all well and good, and it sounds very good, but there's a slight problem with the American establishment, in terms of the education system, apart from you know, you've got your Ivy League, you've got your top schools, but actually there are real problems throughout the US and education.

VS: There is.

SS: If they can't educate their own skilled people, they're going to have to import them, so there's going to be a gap, isn't there?

VS: There is, there is. Yes, my wife runs our foundation in the US, which is singularly focused on Computer Science education, and we have, in the last two and a half years, trained about 150,000 high school students on Computer Science and about 2,800 teachers on Computer Science training. There is a huge lack of Computer Science education, especially in the US.

SS: Are they getting to the same level of education that the kids who have been churned out of universities in India and in China-,

VS: They are better.

SS: Better?

VS: Yes.

SS: That's very interesting, so you think there's better education now potentially coming from homegrown American-, from schools-,

VS: Absolutely. Absolutely. If you bring together, for example, some of the unique American entrepreneurial ideas, like making, makerspaces, and teach computer science in the context of making things, you know, constructing our futures, I think that it's much better than what is available in the rest of the world.

GC: Can I ask you about the India market? I mean, obviously the headlines have been very much about the monetary experiment-,

VS:Yes.

GC: That's taking place at the moment. But will India come through this strongly, and how do you see your opportunities?

VS: I think it will definitely come through it strongly. The opportunity-, India is a relatively small market for us, it's about less than 3%, but the demonetization thing, in the end, when you look at it in the long view, it is a good thing. It is going to lead to the acceleration of digital, digital money, digital payment. I think that's a huge opportunity. Our software powers about 70% of India's banking infrastructure, so we think that there is a tremendous opportunity in sort of leapfrogging to that digital financial infrastructure in India.

SS: I was going to say, this comment from you, you've warned against the lackadaisical attitude, and there is need for growth of value creation. Lackadaisical, what, within Infosys?

VS: Yes, I think that within the industry-,

SS: I'm surprised.


VS: You know, we have been beneficiaries, as an industry, of doing things cheaper than others at the same quality, and I think that that's no longer enough. That with automation, with the need for innovation that businesses around the world have, we really need to step it up and accelerate the rate at which we can bring new ideas to life for our customers, and bring automation to improve the efficiency of the work that we do.

GC: Well, a real pleasure catching up with you, thank you so much for joining us here at this position. Of course, we didn't even get a chance to talk about AI and robotics, which I think-,

VS: Some other time.

GC: You wrote about a long time ago.

VS: I did my thesis on this in the early 90s, and it is a little resilient. You see, that is a huge opportunity, especially in the enterprise.

GC: Good to see you this morning.

VS: Great to be here.

GC: Thanks very much for joining us.