Suave, sophisticated and soft spoken, yet firm in his decision making was Vineet Nayyar, a civil servant turned corporate professional. Nayyar passed away at the age of 85 on Thursday. He was the Vice-Chairman of IL&FS.

The story goes that when Nayyar, an IAS officer of Haryana cadre was serving his stint at the World Bank the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi called him to set up gas infrastructure in the country and thus GAIL was born. Nayyar remained GAIL Chairman and Managing Director from April 13, 1987, to November 2, 1991.

From GAIL, he never looked back as he moved up into the corporate world.

When Satyam Computer Services was taken over by Mahindra, the man who navigated the rebirth of the company as it stands today Tech Mahindra was Nayyar.

Not one to lose patience and keeping to personal commitments was Nayyar. One such incident was that when the name change of Satyam was being discussed at the board meeting in Hyderabad, during the 20-minute break he ensured he marked his presence at a family function in the same city before sneaking back to the board meeting.

Nayyar was seen as a true renaissance man. He connected with the young and old alike and not one moment showcased his achievements. From energy and infrastructure to IT to education which was his passion, a journey worth it.

Nayyar’s contribution

Acknowledging, Nayyar’s contribution, Anand Mahindra, tweeted: “Vineet was a larger-than-life figure in the Indian Business landscape. A distinguished IAS officer, who then served with the World Bank, he became the first Chairman of GAIL He then made a hugely successful transition to the private sector becoming the Managing Director of HCL Corporation Ltd., and the Vice Chairman of HCL Technologies Ltd.“

“And it was from there that he and two of his close colleagues journeyed to Mahindra British Telecom. We called them the Three Musketeers! They came in with a start-up mentality, determined to take MBT (which they renamed Tech Mahindra) into the top ranks of the Indian IT industry—and that’s exactly what they did. Most notably by the bold acquisition of Satyam, a deal spearheaded by Vineet.”

“But I will personally be most grateful to him for his vision in exhorting us to establish Mahindra University, on the campus of the erstwhile Satyam Computer. He provoked us to create what will perhaps be one of the most important legacies of our Group. Thank you, Vineet, for your wisdom, your leadership and for committing the crowning part of your career to the Mahindra Group. Above all, thank you for your friendship. You will always live on in our hearts.”

A tweet from NASSCOM read: “We will always remember the significant contributions of Vineet Nayyar, former Executive Vice Chairman of Tech Mahindra. His visionary leadership and dedication have left an indelible mark on the industry. Our deepest condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues. His impact and achievements have carved a lasting legacy.”.

For journalists who covered Satyam crisis from 2009 to 2018, Nayyar would look like a strict school head master.

He would talk measuring each word. He spoke no one word extra, while giving complex answers to a volley of questions.

No one knew what was going on with the Satyam and how it’s going to be resolved.

He came at a time when Satyam was in deep crisis, almost crumbled. And when the government had decided to set up an independent board and then handed over to to Tech Mahindra in competitive bidding, Anand Mahindra, the chairman of the Mahindra group, as a deputed Vineet and Gurnani to set the house in order. Both revived the company.

While allowing Gurnani to steer clear of the hurdles in business, he took care of the company and helped it come out of the woods.

His common refrain would be ‘net-net’. Like a seasoned bureaucrat, who would have handled several crises, he handled the Satyam crisis with aplomb and vindicated Anand’s to send decision to select him for the mission.