Board wants to hire a per­son ca­pa­ble of be­ing a strat­egy guru for the IT co

The Economic Times - - Front Page - PANKAJ MISHRA

In­fosys is keen to choose an out­sider as its first non­founder CEO, people fa­mil­iar with de­lib­er­a­tions at the soft­ware com­pany said, con­trary to the widely-held per­cep­tion that it is al­most cer­tain to pro­mote one of its own ex­ec­u­tives to the cov­eted post. In its best-case op­tion, the com­pany’s board wants to hire a per­son ca­pa­ble of be­ing a strat­egy guru for the com­pany while elo­quently ar­tic­u­lat­ing In­fosys’ value propo­si­tion in the board­rooms of the world’s top cor­po­ra­tions. This per­son will work in tan­dem with an in­cum­bent who will be pro­moted as chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer, two sources said. The model, one of them ob­served, would be quite sim­i­lar to how Sam Palmisano and Louis Ger­st­ner com­bined tech­nol­ogy vi­sion with ex­e­cu­tion to script IBM’s fa­mous turn­around af­ter its “near-death-ex­pe­ri­ence” in the mid-nineties.

“It’s an ideal sce­nario be­ing con­sid­ered if the com­pany is able to find a vi­sion­ary leader from the world of tech­nol­ogy,” a source said, re­mark­ing that it is quite pos­si­ble that the com­pany will set­tle for an in­sider as the CEO suc­ceed­ing SD Shibu­lal. In­fosys de­clined to com­ment for this story.

Exec search firm Egon Zehn­der will come up with a shortlist of ex­ter­nal can­di­dates

Nearly a year ago, founder NR Narayana Murthy was re­called by the board as ex­ec­u­tive chair­man fol­low­ing more than two years in which the com­pany un­der-per­formed the in­dus­try. Murthy, 67, who was ap­pointed to a five-year term along with his son Ro­han Murty as his ex­ec­u­tive as­sis­tant, has said that he wants to cre­ate a “de­sir­able In­fosys” in three years. A month ago, In­fosys ap­pointed USbased De­vel­op­ment Di­men­sions In­ter­na­tional, a specialist in ex­ec­u­tive eval­u­a­tions, to present the nom­i­na­tions com­mit­tee of the board with a slate of in­ter­nal can­di­dates. Ex­ec­u­tive search firm Egon Zehn­der will come up with a shortlist of ex­ter­nal can­di­dates. The nom­i­na­tions com­mit­tee con­sists of in­de­pen­dent di­rec­tors KV Ka­math, Ki­ran Mazum­dar-Shaw and R Se­shasayee. “The Cog­nizant model that al­lows time for (CEO) Fran­cisco D’Souza to fo­cus on fu­ture while other lead­ers ex­e­cute and main­tain ex­ist­ing busi­ness is also some­thing that’s gained rel­e­vance,” a sec­ond source said. Murthy has been fo­cussing his at­ten- tion on re­duc­ing costs and ag­gres­sively bid­ding for bread-and-but­ter con­tracts to de­velop and main­tain soft­ware ap­pli­ca­tions and com­puter in­fra­struc­ture. The chal­lenge fac­ing In­fosys is that it must also in­crease the pro­por­tion of rev­enue from newer tech­nol­ogy ar­eas such as cloud com­put­ing and data an­a­lyt­ics while keep­ing the rev­enue clock tick­ing rapidly. “Murthy wants to make sure In­fosys does not be­come ir­rel­e­vant; not at least when he’s hand­ing over the ba­ton to an­other chair­man or CEO,” one of the sources said. Murthy, ac­cord­ing to this per­son, wants to en­sure that In­fosys re­gains what the con­sult­ing firm Bain & Com­pany de­scribes as the Founder’s Men­tal­ity-- the core strengths and val­ues that helped it suc­ceed in the first place. In­fosys is fac­ing the twin chal­lenges of adapt­ing to the big changes in the world of tech­nol­ogy ser­vices while also putting a lead­er­ship struc­ture in place that could com­bine vi­sion with ex­e­cu­tion. The low-cost global de­liv­ery model it pi­o­neered has been repli­cated by much big­ger global ri­vals such as IBM and Ac­cen­ture.

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