Infosys takes second shot at a non-founder CEO with Salil S. Parekh

Picture source: Free Press Journal

Infosys is taking a second shot at a non-founder CEO as it appointed Salil S. Parekh as the CEO and Managing Director of the company effective January 2, 2018. Parekh’s predecessor, Vishal Sikka was the company’s first non-founder CEO who was one of the most celebrated technocrats in the world but couldn’t complete a successful stint at Infosys, mainly due to various differences that arose with the founders.

Parekh joins Infosys from Capgemini where he was a member of the Group Executive Board. He has his Masters of Engineering degrees in Computer Science and Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University, and a Bachelor of Technology degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay.

U.B. Pravin Rao, who served as the interim CEO since Sikka’s resignation, will step down from this position effective January 2 and will continue as the Chief Operating Officer and a whole-time director of the company.

Nandan Nilekani, Chairman of the Board said, “We are delighted to have Salil joining as the CEO & MD of Infosys. He has nearly three decades of global experience in the IT services industry. He has a strong track record of executing business turnarounds and managing very successful acquisitions. The Board believes that he is the right person to lead Infosys at this transformative time in our industry. The Board is also grateful to Pravin for his leadership during this period of transition.”

It took little over three months for Infosys to find a successor to Sikka after he resigned on August 18 citing “continuous distractions”. Sikka had stated in his resignation letter that he had been a victim of false, baseless, malicious and increasingly personal attacks. “Allegations that have been repeatedly proven false and baseless by multiple, independent investigations. But despite this, the attacks continue, and worse still, amplified by the very people from whom we all expected the most steadfast support in this great transformation. This continuous drumbeat of distractions and negativity over the last several months/quarters, inhibits our ability to make positive change and stay focused on value creation.”

Parekh has a tough job in hand. One of his tasks would be to continue the digital transformation journey that Sikka had started with lots of initiatives around artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, augmented reality, virtual reality etc. Sikka admitted in his resignation letter that “we have achieved much in the last 3+ years, and for sure we can all be proud of the powerful seeds of transformation that have already been sowed.” But apart from this, Parekh will also have to ensure peace is maintained between the management and the founders. Interesting times ahead!