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BENGALURU: After months of stress, turmoil and billions of dollars in shareholder value destruction, Infosys has finally named a new CEO, Capgemini’s Salil Parekh.
With Infosys’ first attempt at a non-promoter CEO in Vishal Sikka ending in bitter acrimony, accusations of governance lapses, law suits and plenty of dirty linen washed in public, the company is hoping to start the new year on a clean slate by appointing the 53-year old Mumbai-based Parekh to lead the country’s second largest IT services firm.
The drama surrounding Infosys’ CEO search has in recent times rivalled by what transpired at the Tata Group. However, unlike the Tatas who finally opted for an insider to be chairman of Tata Sons, Infosys has again looked outside and brought in Parekh, apparently much to the disappointment of the internal candidates. Whether this will lead to another round of exits has to be seen.
So, three and half months after Sikka’s surprise resignation, Infosys board’s unprecedented attack on founder-chairman Narayana Murthy and co-founder Nandan Nilekani rescue return as chairman, the company on Saturday appointed Euro 12.5 billion French consulting & technology services major Capgemini’s Parekh for a five-year term effective 2nd January.
Parekh, who had been a member of Capgemini’s group executive board (equivalent to a deputy CEO’s post), was the CEO of the company’s financial services business across Europe, North America and Asia. He had been with the company for 17 years.
“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,” Infosys chairman Nandan Nilekani said. Parekh, like Nilekani, is an alumnus of IIT-Bombay.
N R Narayana Murthy, the company’s founder-chairman and the man who led the charge against Sikka for alleged lapses in governance and deviation from Infosys’ cultural values, endorsed the new candidate. He said:”I am happy that Infosys has appointed Salil Parekh as the CEO. My best wishes to him.”
Parekh’s previous employer issued a surprisingly brief statement given his importance to the company and his rank in the hierarchy. “I would like to thank Salil for his involvement in the Capgemini journey. Salil contributed in particular to the development of the Group in India and in the US,” Capgemini CEO and chairman Paul Hermelin said in a statement.
Parekh has his job cut out for him. His first priority will be to mend the frayed relations with some of the promoters, especially Narayana Murthy, to ensure that a Sikka 2 doesn’t happen again. Employee morale is in the dumps. Infosys went from being the gold standard in corporate governance and most preferred employer to one where talk of over-valued acquisitions and unprecedented severance packages and confrontation between the board and promoters led to it bleeding people at both senior and junior levels.
Infosys will also hope that Parekh’s background in the financial services industry throughout his career will help it garner more deals in the BFSI sector across Europe and North America. BFSI, the bread and butter for all Indian IT services companies, contributed about 33 per cent to the company’s topline for the second quarter ended September 30.
“He was the top choice from a pool of highly qualified candidates. With his strong track record and extensive experience, we believe, we have the right person to lead Infosys,” Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, chairperson of the nomination& remuneration committee, said.
Parekh, who got the top job from a pool of 30 candidates who were considered for the role, has a master’s degree in computer science and mechanical engineering from Cornell University. He was a partner in global tax and audit firm Ernst & Young between 1992 and 2000 in financial services and joined Capgemini in 2000 as a result of the latter’s acquisition of the consulting division of Ernst and Young.
As part of the appointment, Infosys said that interim CEO and MD Pravin Rao, a company veteran, will step down from his role but will continue as the chief operating officer and a whole time director till August 2022. “The board is also grateful to Pravin for his leadership during this period of transition,” Nilekani added.