After poll drubbing, is Nandan Nilekani planning to return to Infosys

Written by P P Thimmaya | Bangalore | Updated: May 30 2014, 18:51pm hrs
Nandan NilekaniTalk about Nandan Nilekani?s return to Infosys has cropped up even as the industry discusses the possibility of other candidates for post of next CEO.
An informal channel of communication has opened up between Infosys executive chairman NR Narayana Murthy and co-founder Nandan Nilekani in the wake of the current state of affairs at the IT major, which has seen a spate of senior management exits. Multiple sources told FE that informal talks about the possibility of Nilekani returning to Infosys have already taken place, but no decision has been taken so far.

This talk about Nilekani's return has cropped up, even as the industry discusses the possibility of candidates like Infosys board member Ravi Venkatesan and Sandeep Dadlani, senior vice-president at the firm, who could be considered for the post of next CEO.

Some talks have happened between Murthy and Nilekani. But it's not yet clear as to what role he will take up, a source told FE. Nilekani is unlikely to take up the role of the CEO even if he decides to return, and may choose a higher platform.

An e-mail sent to Murthy seeking his comment regarding this development remained unanswered at the time of going to the press while Nilekani who is in the US did not respond to a SMS query.

Former CEO Nilekani is one figure who can lend a degree of stability and restore morale in the organisation, many people close to the IT major told FE.

Nilekani who was with Infosys till 2009 since its inception had taken up the chairmanship of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), and even today enjoys an iconic status in the company and outside.

Nilekani is the best option as many of the customers of Infosys are old accounts with whom he shares good relationships. He is also very good with sales and marketing which should help the company, a person familiar with these developments said.

Infosys has had a weak run in the last few quarters and had given a guidance of 7-9% revenue growth FY15. On Wednesday, it saw the exit of another CEO aspirant BG Srinivas, after the likes of V Balakrishnan and Ashok Vemuri too had left the company.

Infosys in the last one year has seen the exits of 10 senior level executives creating a management void in the company with not enough bandwidth to fill in these ranks. The current level of leadership after the CEO is quite weak creating a destabilising environment. Nilekani's entry can lend a degree of stability to this new group of people, the source said.

The big plus of Nilekani coming back into Infosys is the excellent rapport he shares with Murthy among all the founders of the company. It was during their period as CEO, MD, COO and chairman that Infosys had scaled new heights like the listing on Nasdaq, becoming a one billion dollar company and acquiring the bellwether status in the Industry.