Infosys CEO contender B G Srinivas quits in 10th high-profile exit at IT bellwether

Written by fe Bureau | Bangalore | Updated: May 30 2014, 13:42pm hrs
SrinavasInfosys is understood to have interviewed eight internal candidates for the CEO?s post
Infosys on Wednesday saw its tenth high-profile exit, less than a year after executive chairman NR Narayana Murthy returned to head the IT major on June 2 last year, with president BG Srinivas stepping down. The development is dramatic given Srinivas, a 15-year veteran at the company, was among those expected to succeed the current CEO SD Shibulal, who retires in March next year.

The other insider with a chance is UB Pravin Rao, senior vice-president and global head of retail, CPG, logistics and life sciences. Rao and Srinivas were appointed presidents in January and subsequently the executive council was dissolved. Other one-time contenders for the top job who have quit are V Balakrishnan, who headed the BPO business, and Ashok Vemuri, global head of manufacturing and the Americas. Previous resignations also include those of Basab Pradhan, global sales head, and Chandrashekar Kakal, who was heading the firms India business unit.

Infosys is understood to have interviewed eight internal candidates for the CEOs post while simultaneously entrusting executive search firm Egon Zehnder with the task of finding a suitable successor.

In the firms annual report for 2013-14, Murthy wrote, Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck where you do not belong. Commenting on some of the earlier resignations, Murthy had indicated a few of them might actually be good for the company. On his return to Infosys, Murthy had asked for at least three years time to resurrect its fortunes. Infosys reported weak numbers for Q4FY14 with the management commentary on the demand environment subdued and in complete contrast with that of peer Tata Consultancy Services, which said it would do better in FY15.

Infosys guided revenues in FY15 would grow by 7-9%; analysts believe the firm needs to arrest loss of share in large accounts. Murthy has been emphasising the need to improve the efficiency of the sales team and the importance of trimming costs. The Street has been concerned about the large number of top-level exits believing they would hurt the company despite Murthys assurances.

Srinivas in a note on Wednesday said Infosys had given him a wonderful opportunity. My tenure at Infosys has been one of my most rewarding experiences, and I am proud to have contributed to the best growth story in the industry. I wish the Board and Infosys the best of success in the future, he said.

Murthy, executive chairman, said, BG Srinivas has been an integral part of Infosys and has played an important role in the companys growth. The Board and every Infoscion thanks BG Srinivas for his wonderful contribution and wish him great success in his future endeavours.

Talking to FE on the exit, TV Mohandas Pai, chairman, Manipal Global Education and former board member of Infosys, said, BG was a wonderful leader and it is sad to see him leave the company. Infosys should quickly resolve who will be the next CEO otherwise there would be a vacuum at the top.

A strong indication was given to Srinivas that he will not be the sole internal candidate and there could be others in the race. This may also include people reporting into him, a source told FE. It is also understood that three other business vertical heads would be exiting soon.

Egon Zehnder is understood to have narrowed its search to three to four candidates. There has been talk the firm has also interviewed non-IT professionals with a track record for turning around companies. Infosys is keen on a person in the US with strong sales credentials, sources indicated.