Infosys announced the appointment of Vishal Sikka as the new Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of the company. Sikka will be inducted as a whole-time director of the Board and CEO & MD (Designate) on June 14, 2014. He will take over as CEO and MD from Mr. S. D. Shibulal on August 1, 2014.
Dr. Vishal Sikka was, until recently, a member of the Executive Board of SAP AG, leading all products and driving innovation globally. He has a history of entrepreneurship and successful starting up of companies — a factor that may have swung the balance in his favor. Infosys is looking for a more entrepreneurial CEO to speed up its growth and transformation.
Sikka joined SAP in 2002 to head the advanced technology group responsible for strategic innovative projects.He later became Chief Software Architect, responsible for the road map and the direction for the architecture of SAP’s products and infrastructure.
Sikka’s announcement indicates that Infosys sees itself as more of a product or solutions company in the future, instead of just a services company. Some of his competitors who were in the running for the post have strong experience in the global delivery and outsourcing business, but by choosing Sikka — a products guy and an entrepreneur, the Infosys board is pointing to a clear direction that it wants the company to follow.
The appointment brings to an end a difficult period in Infosys’ life, as the company has been sliding in terms of growth in recent years. The company had a system of rotating each of the six founders into the CEO position.
However, the system, which worked well when NR Narayana Murthy was heading the company, was not found to be suitable when his co-founders were at the helm.
As a result, Infosys’ current CEO and co-founder, SD Shibulal had offered to step down in favor of a non-founder CEO. The lead internal candidate for CEO, BG Srinivas left the company a few days ago, fueling speculation that the next CEO would be from the outside.
Sikka grew up in Vadodara in Gujarat as the son of an Indian Railways officer. He studied computer engineering at M S University, Baroda.
After completing his B.S. in Computer Science at Syracuse University, Sikka was accepted for the doctoral program at Stanford University.
After a brief stint at Xerox’s research labs, Sikka founded iBrain which competed at the time with Business Objects. iBrain was acquired by PatternRX, Inc. His second startup, Bodha.com, focused on developing technology for non-invasive, service-based integration of enterprise applications and information. Sikka joined Peregrine Systems as their area Vice-President for Platform Technologies, responsible for application development and integration technologies and architecture, following their acquisition of Bodha.com.
Infosys has, in the last few years, fallen behind competitors Tata Consultancy Services, which has been more successful in automating its delivery process and reducing the dependence of manual labor in carrying out projects for clients. While TCS has only 50% of its revenue coming from headcount-based billing, Infosys still has 60% of its revenue coming from such contracts.
The Board also elevated U.B. Pravin Rao, President and whole-time director, as Chief Operating Officer, with effect from June 14, 2014.
According to Infosys, Sikka has worked closely with leaders of global companies in building breakthrough business solutions.
At SAP, he was responsible for all products, from traditional and cloud-based applications to technology and platform products including HANA, analytics, mobile and middleware. In addition, Sikka led multiple initiatives to accelerate innovation and research at SAP. He holds a Ph.D. in computer science from Stanford University, USA.
Commenting on his appointment, Dr. Sikka said, “I am honored to lead Infosys, an iconic company built by pioneers in the technology industry. I look forward to working with and learning from talented Infoscions around the world. Computing technology is reshaping every industry across every walk of life. We, at Infosys, have a unique opportunity to deliver breakthrough solutions that will bring greater value to our clients, employees, investors and other stakeholders. I am grateful to the Infosys Nominations and Governance Committee, Mr. Kamath, Mr. Murthy and the Board for this opportunity.”
N.R. Narayana Murthy and Mr. S. Gopalakrishnan will voluntarily step down as Executive Chairman and Executive Vice Chairman, respectively, on June 14, 2014. In order to facilitate a smooth transition of responsibilities, they will continue on the Board till October 10, 2014 as the Non-executive Chairman and Non-executive Vice Chairman, respectively
Mr. K. V. Kamath will become the Non-executive Chairman of the Board on October 11, 2014
Murthy will be designated as Chairman Emeritus with effect from October 11, 2014 in recognition of his contributions to the company
S. D. Shibulal will step down as CEO & MD and from the Board on July 31, 2014
Srinath Batni, whole-time Director of the company, will step down from the Board on July 31, 2014
In addition, the company has elevated twelve leaders to the position of Executive Vice President with additional responsibilities
The Executive Chairman’s office will be dissolved with effect from June 14, 2014. Dr. Rohan Murty, whose appointment was co-terminus with the Executive Chairman, will leave the company on June 14, 2014. The remaining members of the Chairman’s office will take up other responsibilities in the company.