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Five Possible Contenders Who Could Succeed Vishal Sikka

We did a quick scan and also spoke to some industry experts to see who would possibly fit into the shoes of Sikka. The obvious names are those of the founders – N R Narayana Murthy and Nandan Nilekani

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Subsequent to Vishal Sikka's resignation from his position as the Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer of Infosys, the search for a successor would have been initiated by the board. It is certainly not an easy task to steer a ship that size and given the uncertainties that this organisation, as well as the entire industry, has faced for the past few quarters, the earlier a suitable replacement is found the better the chances for Infosys to maintain the pace that Sikka had initiated during his tenure. Whether the successor and board will maintain the direction that Sikka took is questionable but it is reasonable to assume that the same direction would be maintained.

Finding a successor for such a large organisation that has been undergoing its own set of internal issues, coupled with the changes in the market dynamics is certainly going to be difficult – as it has been in the past. Getting a candidate who has a reasonable chance of success in this role is going to be tougher considering the recent banter around compensation, acquisitions, governance et al. Any new person would certainly want a free hand unless of course, the successor will be one from within the system – one who is already aligned to the overall needs of the market, employees and shareholders.

We did a quick scan and also spoke to some industry experts to see who would possibly fit into the shoes of Sikka. The obvious names are those of the founders – N R Narayana Murthy and Nandan Nilekani. However given the increase in banter and animosity between Murthy and the board, it is unlikely that he would even consider stepping back into the role or any other capacity under the current circumstances. Nilekani who led the company from 2002 to 2007 is certainly an apt leader for Infosys, especially given that he has steered away from commenting and any controversies that plagued Infosys in the recent past. However, Nilekani has other interests which are much larger and outside of the organisation he founded and therefore there is very little chance that he would return to run the organisation in permanent or temporary capacity.

After speaking to a few industry experts, we came up with the following names who could be possibly selected.

UB Pravin Rao

For now, Infosys COO U B Pravin Rao has been named as the Interim - MD and CEO of the firm. He could also be the final choice and might remain as the full-time CEO of Infosys.

Interim Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director has overall strategic and operational responsibility for the entire portfolio of the company’s offerings. Pravin is also Chairperson of Infosys BPO.

He has over 30 years of experience. Since joining Infosys in 1986, he has held a number of senior leadership roles including Chief Operating Officer, Head of Infrastructure Management Services, Delivery Head for Europe, and Head of Retail, Consumer Packaged Goods, Logistics and Life Sciences. Pravin holds a degree in electrical engineering from Bangalore University, India. He is a member of the National Council of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Executive Council of Nasscom.

Rao is an old hand at Infosys and understands the culture, market as well as shareholders. He could provide the continuity that Infosys needs at this stage.

Mohandas Pai

Pai is the current chairman of Manipal Education Group. He joined Infosys in 1994 as CFO and also won the ‘Best CFO in India award’ from Finance Asia. He served as CFO till 2006 and voluntarily lead in the areas of Human Resources, Education, and Research. Mohan has served as the Chairman of the Board of SEBI and is now a Board Member of the National Stock Exchange in India. He has emerged as one of India's most prolific angel investors. He has helped start over 10 different funds in venture, growth, and public markets. He also leads a private equity fund - Aarin Capital - along with Manipal group CEO Ranjan Pai that invests in life sciences and education companies. Pai when exiting had Infosys had said that his dream of making Infosys the words number One IT firm remains unfulfilled. Will he be considered for this position? And if yes, will he consider the position if it is offered to him?

Dr Ganesh Natarajan

This information technology leader is currently the Executive Chairman and Founder of 5F World, a platform for skills, start-ups and social ventures in India. He has a couple of successes to his credit - APTECH a global training major which he scaled up tremendously after taking the mantle and he then led it for ten years and Zensar Technologies, a global software success story which too he grew significantly and led as its Vice Chairman & CEO till early 2016. Natarajan believes in the triple bottom line approach to management and leadership. He is also the National Chair for Confederation of Indian Industries - IT and ITES Committee and a fellow of the Computer Society of India. Natrajan moved out of Zensar to pursue other interests outside of the typical corporate world. Would he consider this position if it were offered to him?

Salil Parekh

Another leader in the IT sector, Parekh has been the Head of Asia-Pacific, North America, United Kingdom and Head of Cloud Infrastructure Services, Sogeti & Cloud Services at Capgemini since October 2016 and serves as its Member of Group Management Board. He served as a Partner of Ernst & Young. He has been with Capgemini India Pvt Ltd for 14 years, starting with Ernst & Young in 1992 and was part of the consulting business that was acquired by Capgemini in 2000. Parekh has been a significant achiever but a very silent one at that. A couple of years ago, there was speculation that he was moving out of Capgemini to take on the CEO role at iGate. He too seems to be a great fit for Infosys. But again will the board consider him? And would he this time consider moving out of Capgemini?

Bhaskar Ghosh

Ghosh is currently the group chief executive of Accenture Technology Services. He is an also member of the Accenture Global Management Committee. In his career spanning over 30 years, Ghosh has served as the Vice President - IT Infrastructure Outsourcing of Infosys from 1997 – 2003. At Accenture, he is responsible for Application Services business, spanning systems integration and application outsourcing. Ghosh is also high in the leadership at Accenture and one would not be surprised if, over the next few years, he emerges as the Accenture global head. But for now, would he consider returning to Infosys if the position was to be offered to him?

These are some of the names that we came up with today. We will continue to report on this development. If you believe there are others who should be considered for this position, please leave your comments below.