Ever since Vishal Sikka had resigned from the post of MD and CEO of Infosys, after what seemed like an acrimonious rancor with the board members; the organization was left with a void yet to be filled.
After Infosys named its co-founder, Nandan Nilekani as Chairman, the board had started the search operation for their new CEO. Over the next few weeks, the board had created a list of potential candidates which comprised of 10 names, including Mr. Salil S. Parekh. While making the list, the board had three things in mind –
- The new CEO should be a sales guy with a strong experience in IT industry – A quality that was missing in Vishal Sikka.
- The new CEO shall not be based out of Bengaluru.
- The new appointment would be conventional and conservative, as the organization needs stability more than revitalization at the moment.
Mr. Parekh was like a hand in glove with all three criteria and the company announced Mr. Salil Parekh as new CEO of Infosys with effect from January 2, 2018 for a period of five years.
Things to know about Salil Parekh –
- Parekh has an impeccable academic record. He is an Aeronautical Engineering graduate from Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay and Masters in Computer Science and Mechanical Engineering from the University of Cornell.
- Salil Parekh has been a member of executive board in the French IT giant, Capgemini Group; and he has worked with the company for 25 years.
- He is affable and down to earth with great social skills.
- He is the second non-founder CEO that Infosys has appointed, after Vishal Sikka.
- Salil Parekh had played an important role in the acquisition of iGate during his tenure at Capgemini.
- He has also worked as a partner with Earnst & Young from 1992 to 2000.
- He has around 30 years of global experience in IT industry.
Challenges for Salil Parekh as the new CEO of Infosys –
- Ensuring growth – In October, Infosys had announced an impressive profit of over 3500 crore, which is over 3 percent more than the last quarter. With emergence of Artificial Intelligence and robotics, it would be difficult for the new appointee to maintain this consistency.
- Overseas deals – He is supposed to make deals in the markets of North America and Europe amid turbulence in terms of slower decision making on IT spends and increased visa checks.
- Re-stabilization after the “Sikka Era” – His way of working is quite different from Vishal Sikka. He is stability oriented. The company had undergone quite a few noticeable changes under Vishal Sikka. It would be challenging for the new CEO to re-stabilize the dynamics.
- Maintaining good relation with founders – After the dispute induced exit of Vishal Sikka, it is expected from the new CEO to share a good bond with the founders and directors.
- Handling the AI tide – Artificial intelligence has led to a lot of job loss. In November, the company has announced that over 1000 employees would be asked to leave. In such a situation, Salil Parekh is expected to instill a soothing effect on the workforce.
One of the reasons behind the selection of Salil Parekh is that he has an experience in dealing with clients across the world. He played a pivotal role at Capgemini in building company’s operations in India. According to Greyhound Research chief analyst, founder and CEO Sanchit Gogia, “Salil Parekh has a great understanding in tech trends of yesterday, today and tomorrow.” Moreover, his philosophy is different from Vishal Sikka, as he is less flamboyant and doesn’t have a mindset of constantly doing new things but at the same time has rich knowledge of cutting-edge technologies in the fast-paced world of IT. Also, with a socially sound and humble demeanor, he is supposed to share a good bond with the founders and the board.
CEO selection is not a risk-free process and it is not possible for search leaders to make a “perfect” choice. Rather, the choice is made perfect by embracing minor short-comings and finding the balance. Going by his attributes and qualities along with his massive experience in the IT sector, one can hope for Mr. Parekh to turn out to be a suitable fit for the role.