Mohandas Pai’s detox diary

The VC likes to relax by spending weekends with the family. He loves reading, for pleasure and knowledge alike.

When you walk into T. V. Mohandas Pai’s office, there are two things that catch your attention: the former Infy CFO’s collection of books juxtaposed with a large TV tuned to a business channel. The IT veteran’s weekend detox begins with reading and spending time with family. Books range from Indian history to Indology and Pai is always encouraging his visitors to read as well.

He even spares some time for Netflix. “But not all weekends are free. I have often worked three weekends straight,” adds Pai, who heads 12 funds and manages assets worth over Rs 2,000 crore.

Pai is an excellent debater, has a fanatical devotion to data, and nurtures relationships that transcend the corporate world. Story has it that his persistent questioning of the Infosys board on its financial performance led to his induction into the company by co-founder N R Narayana Murthy. After that, there was no looking back.

On weekends, Pai loves travelling to the quiet outdoors, tea estates and the vast natural expanses in the Western Ghats and the Himalayas. 

Mohandas Pai

He loves being a part of the Twitterati and admits that he cannot stop tweeting about various issues. “I feel a lot of responsibility for saving the world from Lutyens media and leftist malcontents,” he laughs.

Pai joined Infosys in 1994 when the company had a revenue of only $6.5 million, and when he resigned in 2011, this figure had crossed $6 billion. He was the CFO of the company between 1994 and 2006. It was during this period that Infosys became the first company from India to be listed on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange and also achieved its first billion dollars in revenues. Some years later Pai went on to take on a new role as Human Resources Head.

It is also often seen that corporate honchos fade away from public memory and also the limelight when they step down from their roles, but Pai remains very much in the spotlight as an investor, mentor, public-spirited individual and, lastly, as a philanthropist.

He is just as busy as he was with Infosys. His office on Millers Road in Bengaluru always has a steady stream of visitors who come seeking advice or to pick his brains on various issues. The daily interactions represent individuals from a cross-section of the society: techies, investors, civil society members, intellectuals and even sports personalities. His reach and position drove a well-known editor to even rank Pai as among the top 25 intellectuals in the country.

Pai does not really enjoy taking long breaks. He is constantly either looking at his emails or Twitter. His free time during the weekends is spent debating with industry friends and politicians on various forums. He believes that only reading and numbers make a person completely ready to debate.

That's the life of a CFO-turned-VC. For a man like him, it is never easy to completely switch off. But a little detox -- a bit here and there? That is entirely possible and completely enjoyable.



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