Infosys gets its first non-founder CEO in former SAP executive Vishal Sikka

Jun 12 2014, 10:17 IST
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Vishal Sikka has been chosen to be the first non-founder CEO of $8 billion revenue company. Vishal Sikka has been chosen to be the first non-founder CEO of $8 billion revenue company.
SummaryVishal Sikka has been chosen to be the first non-founder CEO of $8 billion revenue company.

An executive search that Indian IT major Infosys Ltd launched two months ago to find a new CEO for the company has ended with former executive on the board of German IT major SAP Dr Vishal Sikka being chosen to be the first non-founder CEO of the $ 8 billion revenue company.

The entry of Dr Sikka, 47, into Infosys as the CEO and executive chairman of the company’s board of directors on June 14 will also see the exit from executive roles on the board of company founder N R Narayana Murthy, co-founder Kris Gopalakrishnan, as well as the stepping down of the last of the founder CEOs S D Shibulal on August 1, 2014.

Murthy’s son Rohan Murty, a Ph.D in computer science from Harvard University, who joined the company in June last year as his father’s executive assistant will also step down from the company on June 14.

Infosys has also promoted U B Pravin Rao its President and whole-time director as the Chief Operating Officer.

“Vishal brings valuable experience as a leader of a large, global corporation. His illustrious track record and value system make him an ideal choice to lead Infosys,’’ Infosys founder Narayana Murthy said following the leadership change announcements.

“I am honored to lead Infosys, an iconic company built by pioneers in the technology industry. I look forward to working with and learning from talented Infoscions around the world. Computing technology is reshaping every industry across every walk of life,’’ Dr Sikka was quoted as saying in an official Infosys statement.

Infosys said that its CEO designate a Ph.D in computer science from Stanford University had ``worked closely with leaders of global companies in building breakthrough business solutions’’.

`` At SAP, he was responsible for all products, from traditional and cloud-based applications to technology and platform products including HANA, analytics, mobile and middleware. In addition, Dr. Sikka led multiple initiatives to accelerate innovation and research at SAP,’’ Infosys said.

Infosys Ltd had begun its search for a new CEO in April this year well ahead of the retirement date of its incumbent CEO Shibulal who is set to retire in January when he turns 60. The company had indicated that it was going outside the confines of its own ranks to find the new CEO.

The changes announced on Thursday at Infosys Ltd will result in a generational change of leadership at the company with all of the original founders of the company, including Narayana Murthy, moving into non-executive roles for the first time in its over three decade existence.

The process of finding the new CEO had seen the exits of a couple of top Infosys executives who were earlier tipped to be in the reckoning for the top post at the former IT bellwether.

`` The Infosys Board of Directors is pleased to announce the selection of Dr. Vishal Sikka as the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director (CEO & MD) of the company. Dr. Sikka will be inducted as a whole-time director of the Board and CEO & MD (Designate) on June 14, 2014. He will take over as CEO & MD from Mr. S. D. Shibulal on August 1, 2014,’’ Infosys said in an official statement ahead of a formal press conference scheduled for mid-day on Thursday.

`` N R Narayana Murthy and S Gopalakrishnan will voluntarily step down as Executive Chairman and Executive Vice Chairman, respectively, on June 14, 2014. In order to facilitate a smooth transition of responsibilities, they will continue on the Board till October 10, 2014 as the Non-executive Chairman and Non-executive Vice Chairman, respectively,’’ a company statement said.

Infosys Ltd has been in a churn over the past year since the return from retirement of its main founder Narayana Murthy in June 2013. Murthy who retired in 2011, at the age of 65, from all executive roles had returned as executive chairman in the light of the erosion of Infosys’ position as the number two Indian IT company to players like Cognizant, HCL Technologies.

While the number one Indian IT company TCS continued to demonstrate strong growth, Infosys, who attempted a course correction from its hard-nosed sales and margins driven growth strategy to a more product oriented one after Murthy’s first exit, showed only marginal growth in revenues – even as younger companies like Cognizant, HCL and Tech Mahindra have gained ground on it.

The return from retirement for Murthy in June while steadying Infosys to some extent and returning to a sales driven strategy also cost the company a dozen top level executives who quit the company even as Murthy wrested back the reins with his son Rohan Murty as his executive assistant.

"The Executive Chairman’s office will be dissolved with effect from June 14, 2014. Dr. Rohan Murty, whose appointment was co-terminus with the Executive Chairman, will leave the company on June 14, 2014,’’ Infosys said in its announcements on Thursday.

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