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Infosys appoints Salil Parekh as CEO & MD

| | New Delhi | in Sunday Pioneer

Infosys on Saturday said it has appointed Salil S Parekh as its CEO and Managing Director, concluding the 3-month high-profile executive search at the country's second largest IT firm.

The Bengaluru-based firm had initiated the search after CEO Vishal Sikka resigned in August following a protracted acrimony between the management and the founders.

UB Pravin Rao, who was filling in the CEO role on interim basis, will now continue as Chief Operating Officer and a whole-time Director of the company, Infosys said in a statement.

Parekh, who will take over on January 2, 2018 for a period of five years, was a member of the Group Executive Board at French firm Capgemini, Infosys added.

“He (Parekh) 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,” said Nandan Nilekani, Chairman of Infosys Board.

The Board believes that Parekh is the right person to lead Infosys at this “transformative time in the industry”, he added.

This is the second time the company is bringing in an outsider for the top job. Sikka, who was brought in from SAP in 2014, was the first non-founder CEO at the over $10 billion company.

The year-long spat between the high-profile founders like NR Narayana Murthy and the Infosys management, saw Sikka quitting in August. Over the next few days, the then Chairman R Seshasayee and two others also relinquished their positions.

Murthy, along with some former Infosys executives, had alleged serious corporate governance lapses and questioned the high severance packages paid to ex-CFO and others.

Another major contention was the Panaya acquisition by Infosys. The founders citing whistleblower reports had raised concerns about the buyout.

It was then that Nilekani — one of the Infosys co-founders and Aadhaar architect — was brought in as non-executive chairman to restore order at the embattled company.

He was also tasked with finding Sikka's successor as the shareholder sentiment was hit by the developments at the firm.

Interestingly, the new Board, under Nilekani, has given a clean chit to the $200 million Panaya deal saying there was no merit in the allegations of wrongdoing related to the deal.

For the executive search, Infosys cast a wide net to include alumni, internal and external candidates in the global search for the lead role. It had also hired consultancy firm Egon Zehnder to search for Sikka's successor.

According to reports, Infosys executives like UB Pravin Rao, CFO Ranganath D Mavinakere as well as Ashok Vemuri (former Americas Head and Board member at Infosys) and B G Srinivas (former Infosys President) were considered for the top job.

Infosys' statement on Saturday noted that the selection of Parekh was done based on the recommendation of Nomination and Renumeration Committee.

Parekh had joined Capgemini in 2000 as a result of the acquisition of the consulting division of Ernst and Young, and occupied various leadership positions in the Group.

He holds a Masters degree in Computer Science and Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University as well as a Bachelors degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the IIT Bombay.

According to industry watchers, Parekh will face multiple challenges in the new role.

A major one would involve maintaining  peace between the founders and the management, they said, adding that Parekh's performance would also depend on the how much independence he gets in decision making.

Besides, he will have to push further the innovation agenda in areas like cloud, blockchain and analytics given the increasing automation across industries, rapid pace of technology change and increasing visa scrutiny in key markets, they said.




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