Vishal Sikka: Reaching for the Future without Abandoning Infosys’s Past

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A Conversation with Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka

In 2014, when Vishal Sikka took over as chief executive officer of Infosys, India’s second largest information technology services firm with annual revenues of $10 billion, the company was grappling with challenges on many fronts. Artificial intelligence and automation were edging out IT outsourcing models, putting pressure on the entire industry. Internally, Sikka discovered that while Infosys scored high on quality, professionalism and delivery excellence, clients did not perceive it as being proactive and innovative, and it lacked strategic relevance.

This became a primary driver of Sikka’s “Zero Distance” strategy: Get close to the client’s needs to “go beyond the charter of the project and do something innovative to delight the client, and do something that they did not expect.” As the first non-founder CEO of Infosys, Sikka has instituted other reforms as well that are turning around the company. Under his leadership, consolidated revenue rose by 17% and operating profit by 13% in fiscal years 2015 and 2016.

Sikka met with Knowledge@Wharton in Palo Alto, Calif. He spoke about sweeping changes in technology because of the emergence of artificial intelligence, machine learning and deep learning. Sikka explained the zero distance concept and how it fits into his strategy for Infosys. He also discussed the leadership challenge of transforming Infosys’s culture without abandoning its innovative roots or the vision of its founders.

An edited transcript of the conversation follows.

Knowledge@Wharton: You were appointed CEO of Infosys in June 2014. Since then, how have the challenges that companies have been trying to solve through technology changed? Or are they pretty much the same that they were back then?

Vishal Sikka: They have become more intense, more accelerated and more severe. With every passing day, the rate of change gets faster. The impact of Moore’s Law [the idea that computing power doubles every two years] becomes more pronounced. … Not only the famous Moore’s Law but all the variations of it, in all the different parts of the industry. The advance of automation and digitization across the world have become more severe, more intense. The need for computing and computing awareness has become more intense everywhere.

Knowledge@Wharton: What is driving that intensity?

Sikka: The divide between people who truly understand the impact of the digitizing world and those who don’t is just becoming bigger. Over the last two-and-a-half years since I started at Infosys, the top five companies in the world by market cap [have changed and now comprise] technology companies — Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook — which is quite staggering.

… If you look back over the last 10 years — the iPhone was barely out and Barack Obama was not president yet, Uber wasn’t around. Tesla wasn’t around — the Fortune 500 [companies] that were there at that time, something like 35% or 36% of those companies are not on the list anymore.

The people who make technology companies are no different than us [or past Fortune 500 incumbents]. [Former Apple co-founder] Steve Jobs used to say that the important thing in life is to remember that everything around us was built by people who are no different or superior to us. It’s not as though there is some magic in technology. I find it incredible that all these companies have lost their Fortune 500 status. They all had huge budgets with large consulting companies and innovation departments. So what happened?

My wife runs our foundation here in the U.S., and she found this amazing statistic that if computing — programming a computer or being able to work with a computer — is the new literacy, and if you relate that conceptually, although they are vastly different, to reading and writing, the literacy rate on the planet slumps.

In the Dark Ages, the [literacy] rate was around 6%. Today about 0.5% of the world can read and write with a computer — the computer literacy rate is less than the actual literacy in the Dark Ages. So when [computer scientist and pioneer] Alan Kay says that the computer revolution hasn’t begun yet, I think we are advancing into a world that is going to be completely defined by software, by digital. And we don’t have a society that is literate in these technologies.

Knowledge@Wharton: You mentioned digital transformation and automation. You hear those buzzwords, along with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, a lot these days. Almost every company is talking about them. Companies like IBM with Watson, Google with their Brain group and Microsoft are active in this field. How do you see Infosys differentiating itself in this world, to set a value proposition that is unique?

Sikka: I studied AI. Marvin Minsky, one of the fathers of AI, wrote my recommendation letter for my admission to Stanford. John McCarthy was at Stanford. He was known as [another] father of AI. He actually coined the term ‘artificial intelligence.’ John was one of my teachers.

So I sort of grew up in AI. Back then it was the AI winter; people did not really want to be associated with AI. I look back over these past 25 years that I’ve been working on it — my Ph.D. is in a part of AI called Turing-proving, logical reasoning, and so on. I also worked in neural networks and machine learning. I spent a memorable summer at Intel, and the Intel AI lab … and working on neural networks for the Intel manufacturing process.

What has happened in the past 20 years is that there has been a tremendous advance in computing. Back when I worked on the neural networks at Intel as a student, computers were probably more than a million times worse in performance than they are today. That is one vast change that has happened.

“So far, the work in AI is largely focused on the consumer world. … The enterprise world is wide open, rich with applications and so forth.”

There have been some conceptual advances in techniques in AI. Deep Learning has become very popular in the past few years because of the success of a few techniques — CNNs (convolutional neural networks) are what they are called, and reinforcement learning and so forth. But they are not such significant advances conceptually. The real advances are in computing and the availability of massive amounts of data, like when you look at YouTube or Instagram there is a massive amount of data, and the computers are ridiculously more powerful.

And some of these techniques — in fact Deep Learning itself — are possible because of the huge power of computers that is creating applications in a vast number of areas across industries. So far, the work in AI is largely focused on the consumer world, and in some areas like robotics and autonomous driving. The enterprise world is wide open, rich with applications and so forth.

When we look at AI, I would say there are three important aspects we have to think about. One is that there have been breathtaking applications. Recently, one of the Carnegie Mellon poker AI programs beat the four best poker players in the world. … And there is no doubt that as a result of AI advances, many of the jobs that we have today are going to go away. A lot of those jobs are in my part of the world, in my industry. Also, the jobs that we would not normally think of, like doctors, lawyers, legal researchers — the mechanizable parts of these jobs — will go to AI.

The second point is that we are still very early in the development of AI. There is deeper AI, the ‘society of mind’ that Minsky talked about [in which interactions of mindless components come together to form intelligence]. We are still not close to that. Probably in our lifetimes we will not see a truly [deep] AI, despite the hype. I don’t think this is going to happen; this is longer term.

The third point is that we tend to get scared of and mystified by technologies like AI. But the reality is that people are building AI, and so there is no reason why everybody cannot learn how to build AI systems. We have to teach people AI; this is not dropping from the skies and into our hands, people are writing code that is intelligent code. For every truck driver who will lose his job to a truck-driving system, there is a person writing the truck-driving system. And so that human potential to build AI is still in front of us. We will see the same duality play out.

If we sit still, there is absolutely no doubt that our jobs are going to be wiped out by AI — 60% to 70% over the next 10 years, or maybe less than 10 years, of the jobs that we do today are going to be replaced by AI unless we continue to evolve ourselves, unless we continue to develop better technology and faster automation.

I have been working furiously on ways to teach machine learning and AI techniques. I did a class myself; I prepared it for our kids. We have a great university at [the Infosys campus in Mysore, India]. We teach AI here at a huge level. And we want to bring AI into two dimensions. One is to help improve our productivity in our existing services. If you look at the evolution of Infosys, 35 years ago we started with application development and maintenance, which to this day is a very human, cognitive job. But the dramatic growth that happened in the IT industry in the past 20 years is more mechanical than that, like infrastructure management or BPO [business process outsourcing], software verification.

“Problem-finding is still a human frontier. To be able to look into a room and be able to see what is not here, what is missing.”

The tons of jobs that were created in these areas are all [vulnerable to] automation. Depending on the nature of your business mix, huge parts of your business are prone to automation. It’s already happening. In the first nine months of this financial year, we have saved 8,000 people’s equivalent work using automation. There is that carving out — eating up of the existing mechanizable work using AI — that’s a big part of it.

The other big part of it is the new applications of AI. Earlier today, our folks here [in Palo Alto] were showing me a remarkable application that they have built for one of the big train companies, railroad companies, where they feed the contract documents into our AI platform, and then they automate the process of complying with these contracts.

[It applies] also in HR — with jury duty and vacation and strikes and overtime and all these kinds of things that in unionized workforces you have to comply with. How do you ensure that you are continually compliant with that? This is a beautiful application of AI. Similarly, consider forecasting profits or revenue. Understanding customer behavior down to the level of an individual customer. Things of this nature. So that’s what we are doing, using AI to improve our work, keep up our existing services, and release people’s imagination to be creative and innovative. And at the same time, we are building new kinds of applications.

Knowledge@Wharton: What is the most striking example of how AI has made someone that Infosys is working with more innovative?

Sikka: We have a very large apparel retail footwear company [as a client]. We have helped them dramatically accelerate their product innovation process. Generally, what happens when you make a shoe or a piece of apparel is that a designer comes up with an idea. You see that this is something that will work. So now you have to [decide to] make this or not, and then determine the cost of the ingredients and where to source them from. This is a very complex problem.

… The raw materials for these kinds of products tend to be very complex, and then you’re to source them to make it for millions of consumers. Generally, the processes around that are very surprisingly weak. With AI, we can dramatically amplify people’s ability to understand those costs, forecast those costs, and then to accelerate.

We can bring down the time it takes to bring a new product to life from six months to two weeks. This is one amazing example. Another one is in the relatively mundane area of financial closing. The time it took to close monthly books was 11 days; we brought it down to 14 hours. The CFO of the company is a huge fan of this.

… So there are applications like that. There is a very large insurance company and they send out policy documents to their policyholders. There is a team of 1,000 people including about 100 to 150 people from Infosys that goes through these documents and extracts 30 or 40 fields manually. Within two days of work on our AI platform, we were able to completely automate this.

… This is one of the most striking examples of the power of automation, that literally in 48 hours, with the work of one of our engineers, we were able to essentially eliminate the work that was being done by 1,000 people.

Knowledge@Wharton: Let me bring you back to the question of jobs since this seems relevant to what you just said. If so many jobs are going to be eliminated, first what should be done about that at the social level? Secondly, are there jobs that computers can’t do that can now be done by people?

How do you think about these things?

Sikka: Technology has been doing this for a long time. If you look at agriculture, if you look at industry, automation has happened. We now get more scared of AI because of the white-collar nature of the jobs that are at risk, but the reality is that AI is another one of these technologies in this long list, the long pantheon of technologies that have amplified human ability. When we think about jobs, our brains are wired by nature to think about things in terms of the past. Our vocabulary, our metrics, our concepts are all based on what we have seen in the past. So every time we look backwards and we think that all these jobs will go away, what we don’t realize is that there are also new kinds of jobs that are being created, which [before] we had no idea would exist.

AI is one of these. When people are writing AI, all kinds of AI systems are developed, and amazing applications are built. And there will be enough jobs — if we have enough trained people. Right now, there are 18 million open IT jobs in the world. We don’t have enough people. Part of the reason this debate exists is it’s not so much that you bring in people because they are cheaper than others, this is not true. It may be true in pockets but as a whole it is not true; it is simply that there are not enough skills, and people with the skills are not there.

Fundamentally the answer is education. Now everybody says, ‘of course, everybody talks about education.’ The reality is that in order to do something, we have to learn to do that thing [that would let us accomplish the task]. We have to teach people, and we have to teach them lifelong learning.

I am co-chair, together with Missy Cummings [Duke University’s director of the Humans and Autonomy Lab], of the World Economic Forum’s Council on AI and Robotics. This is one of the big issues: How do we retrain people, especially the older people who are affected by this and who have families, and so on? In the end, the answer comes down to training, re-skilling, education.

It could be that because of the pace of change, we have to help people during the time it takes them to re-skill themselves. There is a lot of thinking around that — universal basic income and other forms of social fabrics to help people. Broadly speaking, it is my sense that there is plenty of opportunity to build AI systems and so on.

We tend to overlook the fact that all these technologies end up amplifying ourselves, they end up improving our abilities. When I started at Stanford, I had a remarkable experience. I went to see my advisor and I asked him, what do you want me to work on? He said, “I have no idea.” I was shocked by that. I said, there is supposed to be this list of problems and you are supposed to tell me one of them and I’d work on it.

“I deeply believe that saying that there is an innovation department ensures that you don’t innovate anywhere else.”

He said, “No, you find your own problem, then we will judge if this problem is good enough or not. You solve that problem and then we judge if the solution is good enough. This is how it works. If this is not what you had in mind, then this is not the right place for you.” That put me into a tailspin. I went to school in Syracuse, [New York] but I had grown up in India — all of your life, you learn to follow orders, follow authority, and do what you are told. That lesson informs and guides a lot of what I do at Infosys in terms of transforming a culture of doing what we are told.

At that time, I started thinking about finding my own problem. John McCarthy who I mentioned earlier, he did a seminar [where he] said that articulating a problem is half the solution. It opened my eyes to the fact that there is such a thing as problem-finding. I talked to another professor, Bob Floyd who was also a Turing Award winner. He is the Floyd of Floyd’s Algorithm, for network logistics. I told him that McCarthy said this and he said, “Oh that’s not it. I frame a problem, then I solve it. Then I go back to see if I can reframe that, and I re-solve it until I can no longer improve the solution. That’s when I know I have found a beautiful solution.”

In those days, there was the Center for Design Research at Stanford that was starting to think about this problem, finding design thinking and problem synthesis kind of things. So I sort of grew up as I opened my eyes to this idea that there is problem solving, but there is also problem-finding. That was a very big lesson for me. … Design thinking is a very powerful idea around problem-finding. My sense is that within our lifetimes we will be able to build AI systems that are able to solve a problem that can be articulated, that can be mechanically defined.

But problem-finding is still a human frontier. To be able to look into a room and be able to see what is not here, what is missing. What if we were to bring here something that would be desirable, visible and viable, that the world needs? All innovation is like that. Earlier when I was talking about [companies in] the Fortune 500 disappearing, it [shows that there] is a very profound failure of problem-finding, of not being able to see what is the right problem for our future, and to be able to then solve it, which is going to be easier and easier with AI.

Knowledge@Wharton: You’ve talked about AI and what is happening in the world of technology. I wonder if we could take a step back again to two-and-a-half years ago when you were thinking about a strategy for Infosys. What was your assessment at that time of Infosys’s strengths and weaknesses as an organization, dealing with this world of technology and challenges? And how does the idea of Zero Distance fit into that strategy?

Sikka: It is very fundamentally linked to what I have talked about, and in that sense it has been a homecoming in more ways than one. When I started, there was of course the big force of automation, technology, digitization, AI and so on, and you could see that. There were also some local issues within Infosys. The company was not doing so well and there was a lot of attrition and a sense of anxiety in the workforce. The iconic founders left at the time when I started. So there was a sense of anxiety in the company, which was very local.

But the other big force was the nature of the IT services industry, and the nature of Infosys in the face of the technological disruption. … We [did] an annual survey of our clients and their satisfaction levels, [and what we found] was very revealing. It was actually very depressing. The [clients] would give us high scores on quality, on professionalism, on delivery excellence, but every one of them would give us the lowest scores on strategic relevance, on being proactive, on being innovative.

I thought, ‘We are not innovative? We have 150,000 software engineers.’ That was really shocking. While I was reading this, I met with a client, chief operating officer of a huge mining company who was a friend of mine, and he asked me, ‘How are you doing? What have you found?’ And I told him, ‘I went through the survey and it’s really depressing. Is this what you have found?’ He said, ‘This is exactly what I have been telling your guys — that you don’t tell us proactively what we could be doing better. You do a great job of doing what you are told, but not of coming up with ideas.’ …

Zero Distance was born out of that idea. There are about 9,500 main projects going on in the company, and I basically inspired every project to do something innovative.

Knowledge@Wharton: Can you explain what Zero Distance actually means? And how do you tell whether it’s working?

Sikka: The idea is that we don’t just do what we are told, but in every single project, no matter what it is, no matter how mundane, no matter what area it is in, you do something innovative. You find some problem and you solve that problem, you go beyond the charter of the project and do something innovative to delight the client, and do something that they did not expect. Something bigger than what you were thinking about.

Knowledge@Wharton: For example?

Sikka: For example, you are working on managing a loan process and you realize that because of this, that, or some other innovation this process can be simplified dramatically. So you go and tell the client that, look if I did this, that, or the other I can [significantly improve efficiency]. … And it is shocking, you know? [You can] take out two weeks out of a process just by applying your mind. So the idea of Zero Distance itself is that you focus on the teams that are in constant contact with the outside world. Those are the teams that can execute the transformation, because they are the ones living in the world outside.

“There is no doubt that as a result of AI advances, many of the jobs that we have today are going to go away.”

… People always ask me, why do large organizations stop being innovative? You pay consultants tons of money and then they come and tell you that middle management is broken, and it’s always the middle management that is broken. But in reality, it is not the middle management, it is the fact that in a large organization there are a whole bunch of people who have never seen the outside world.

They have never sold anything, they have never built anything. And so you always have to flatten the organization as much as possible so that the maximum number of people have outside contact. … In our case, that is the project teams, and the heartbeat of our company is our projects. We have close to 10,000 projects going on.

The amazing thing was that that thing just took off. We are approaching two years of Zero Distance. In March 2015, I launched it, and it was amazing to see how rapidly it was adopted. The project managers are young, about 31 to 32 years old, and the teams are even younger. Going down to that level, and creating that idea, that spark, was key.

Part of the enabler was the design thinking. We just crossed 130,000 people that we train on design thinking. Everyone who comes in is trained on it, and we have been going around to our DCs (development centers) — also here in the on-site locations — and teaching people design thinking. Not to turn them into designers, but to create the spirit of problem-finding, the spirit of looking at the world and seeing what is not there, of exercising our imagination.

The basic idea is to elevate [Infosys] from a cost-oriented service delivery culture towards an innovation culture at the grassroots. The bigger idea of course is that AI is coming, and we have to automate everything that we do as much as possible, and we have to become innovative, we have to become problem finders.

Knowledge@Wharton: But how do you do that? You have a company, as you said before, where people are used to doing what they are told. How do you transform the culture of an organization from that to becoming innovators, so that they can act upon the strategy that you described? There’s an old saying that culture eats strategy for lunch. How are you dealing with that problem at Infosys?

Sikka: It is very, very tough. Everybody says it is tough, but when you do it in reality, when you exercise it, you realize that it is much more difficult than it seems. The good news is that a culture of learning always helps. We had that — it comes from our founder [N.R. Narayana] Murthy. … He used to talk about ‘learnability,’ the ability to learn, as one of the key hiring criteria.

The good news is that the youngsters are really willing to [learn]. They feel a sense of inspiration. Ironically, the desire to change [diminishes], as you go up the organizational levels and as you [get older]. [However,] there are some tremendous innovators who are [quite senior]. Hasso [Plattner, SAP’s chairman] used to say that at 70, he was just getting started. So it has nothing to do with age, but it has to do with how set we have become in our ways. Generally, I have found that the youngsters are much more open to embracing these ideas.

I think that every one of us has that creative spark in us. Somehow our education, our schooling sort of beats it out of us by the time we are nine or 10 years old, and we forget about asking questions, and every once in a while [risking] looking stupid to ask some really silly question.

People ask me why [we do] this one-day design exercise. On October 31 of 2014, less than 100 days at Infosys, I started this design training. Three of the faculty from the Stanford business school [got together] to create the training curriculum for design thinking. It’s a day-long experience that all these kids go through, and they make something. They understand what problem-finding and synthesis are all about as well. It serves to ignite a spark in their head: ‘Hey, why don’t I do this or why don’t I do that?’

One of the teams did this exercise [where] this technician has to make two rounds. One, go to the place where there is a problem to find what the problem is. Then he comes back, takes the stuff he needs and goes back to solve the problem. What if we forecast the problem so he just makes one trip? This was one of the ideas, and there have been thousands and thousands of these ideas, and it’s really amazing how it got adopted.

To change the culture, one part was enabling it through education. But that doesn’t make you inspired. To do that, you have to constantly demonstrate that this is something serious, this is something rewarding. People don’t find compensation as important as recognition. So you have to recognize people.

“Right now, there are 18 million open IT jobs in the world. We don’t have enough [trained] people.”

In the two years since I started Zero Distance, I have probably held 35 Zero Distance meetings with various teams around the world. I do this every time I go to India — I do a Zero Distance meeting and sometimes 20,000 people show up in these meetings. I, and many of our senior leaders, show up there whenever we are around. I always do it. Whenever the leadership team is with me, they come with me.

For the people, it is very important to see that, ‘Look, he is actually looking at five, six actual projects out of 10,000 projects,’ and that matters a lot. Things of this nature really help. We did a very interesting exercise to identify the most passionate people inside the company.

Knowledge@Wharton: How did you do that?

Sikka: Well, there is unfortunately no metric for passion. It’s one of those things where you know it when you see it. We found 20 or so people that we all agreed were supremely passionate, and we asked them to find — and tell us — who the other passionate people were, and we built up [an organizational] tree like that.

Knowledge@Wharton: I would like to wrap up with a few questions on leadership. Before you became the CEO of Infosys, you were part of the leadership team at SAP. What was the difference between being a leader at SAP and being a leader at Infosys? What carries over and what is different?

Sikka: People instincts carry over, they are the same, [as well as] the culture, the principles. There are the tasks before an organization — the A, B, and C. Those are the things that we do, those are different from company to company. Then there is the how we do the things we do, the processes, the mindset and the systems. Those are generally similar. They can still vary depending on what industry you are in. And so there is more similarity there.

Then there is the C-task, which is why you do the things that you do: the purpose, the culture, the reason. Generally, people lose sight as they go through a change, they lose sight of the C-tasks. Of course, SAP was older than Infosys. Back when I was at SAP I think it was something like 43 and very different as a product company.

And, of course, the culture [also differed with] Infosys being in India. At SAP, it has German roots but it was much more international, much more global. Here, although we have 22,000 people in the U.S., it’s very much an India-centric company. So many differences, but some principles, some of the ideas, transcend the differences.

Knowledge@Wharton: If you were to think back about your leadership journey, what would you say is the biggest leadership challenge that you have faced? How did you deal with it and what did you learn from it?

Sikka: The biggest leadership challenge that I have faced – and there have been many — was the transformation of a company. When we were building HANA (a relational database management system) at SAP, the core team of HANA was [at the company’s German offices in] Walldorf. Very entrepreneurial, very innovative. It was like a family atmosphere.

One of my memorable pictures from the HANA days was around Christmas time. There was this one building — building three of SAP — and around 10 o’clock on a Friday night, every single wing of the building was dark except one wing. Every single light of that wing was on, and you could tell which one was the HANA team. I was so proud of that — the culture. It was in the heart of the company.

That kind of a transformation from within is very difficult. It can be done, which is what we are endeavoring to do here with Zero Distance and with Mana [Infosys’ knowledge-based AI platform] and so on. I think the biggest challenge is ensuring that we transition ourselves to a new generation without losing our values, without losing our ethos.

“The biggest challenge is ensuring that we transition ourselves to a new generation without losing our values, without losing our ethos.”

People debate culture and values. Do the values change? I had a very interesting debate recently with a very good friend of mine who is the CEO of a large company here in the U.S. He said that values change all the time; ethics don’t change. That was a very interesting perspective on values. That transformation is a very big challenge. People call it cultural transformation.

Knowledge@Wharton: I thought you would say bridging the culture of the old Infosys with the new Infosys. Is that accurate?

Sikka: I think there is no old or new. I deeply believe that saying that there is an innovation department ensures that you don’t innovate anywhere else. Saying that there is a new department ensures that everybody else thinks that they are old. This we cannot do. There are businesses that we never did before as a company that we got into, but there are always new things happening in every business. It has to. If you look at nature, there is constant [change].

I was looking at some cherry blossoms around my house. Nature is constantly renewing itself. The fruit that falls off the trees, they grow into new trees — these are new things.

So I think we have to have a culture [of innovation that permeates the company and is constantly renewed]. That is one of the biggest lessons I have learned — that we cannot differentiate. Everyone in the company, everyone in the organization, in all corners of the company, has to innovate.

One of the most amazing examples of innovation at Infosys has come from our finance team. A lot of our core processes — the OTR (order to remittance) process, the order to cash, the accrual process in our company — we have managed to cut it down to 50% … without compromising in any way, shape, or form. That was a great example of a process transformation from within.

This innovation that I talked about in identifying the most passionate people, identifying the highest performers: We value the highest performers who are on the frontlines more than anybody else in the company. So you have to create a culture which is pervasively innovative, and not create silos of innovation.

Knowledge@Wharton: Let me end with one last question. Several years ago, I think it was about 11 years ago, Knowledge@Wharton had the good fortune to interview [former SAP CEO] Henning Kagermann, who I think you have described as the best boss you ever had.

The question toward the end of the conversation was, what do you do to relax? And his answer blew me away. He said he likes to listen to rock music. He is a big fan of Deep Purple and even took the entire board of SAP to a concert.

Sikka: Henning is a real metal head, to this day.

Knowledge@Wharton: So let me ask you the same question, what do you do to relax?

Sikka: Oh, boy. Sleep would be a good idea these days. I live a very frantic lifestyle. My home is here, near where we are sitting in California but the company’s headquarters are in India, so I am constantly on the road. Last year I made 99 [trips] plus 17 flights. … I made 99 commercial trips amounting to about 800 hours or something like that, and 17 private flights of 39 hours. That is an insane amount of travel — and no sleep. Just to calm myself down, to reconnect, every once in a while I will take a day and go to a temple, a Buddhist temple, and just relax and be peaceful.

I love to surf. Last year at spring break, my wife managed to get a few days off to take us all to Hawaii. I managed to surf after a long time. Now you’ve got me thinking about surfing.

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