Vishal Sikka Steps Down As Infosys' MD And CEO

by CXOtoday News Desk    Aug 18, 2017

infosys

Vishal Sikka has resigned as the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Infosys. In his notice of resignation to the Board, Dr. Sikka reiterated his belief in the great potential of Infosys, but cited among his reasons for leaving a continuous stream of distractions and disruptions over the recent months and quarters, increasingly personal and negative as of late, as preventing management’s ability to accelerate the Company’s transformation. Pravin Rao has been appointed as the interim CEO.

In a letter to stock exchanges, Company Secretary AGS Manikantha confirmed the development, saying the resignation was accepted at a board meeting on August 18. Sikka will now be the executive vice-chairman of the company. “The succession plan for appointment of a new Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer has been operationalised by the Board and a search for the same has been commenced,” it said.

Read more: 5 Game-Changing Ideas Of Vishal Sikka

In a press release issued, Infosys said, “Sikka has been appointed executive vice chairman effective today (August 18), and will hold office until the new permanent Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director takes charge, which should be no later than March 31, 2018. Sikka will continue to focus on strategic initiatives, key customer relationships and technology development. He will report to the Company’s Board. UB Pravin Rao has been appointed Interim Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director reporting to Sikka under the overall supervision and control of the Company’s Board. 

In his resignation letter, Sikka said: “After much reflection, I have concluded that it is indeed time for me to leave my current positions as MD and CEO, and I have communicated my resignation to Sesh. I will be working closely with Sesh, Ravi, Pravin, with all of you, and the senior management team to plan out the details and the timelines to ensure a smooth transition and in the meantime, continue our work without disruption, and ensuring that we protect our company, the employees, the clients, and the interests of every shareholder. You can count on my commitment to this.”

“Over the last many months and quarters, we have all been besieged by false, baseless, malicious and increasingly personal attacks. Allegations that have been repeatedly proven false and baseless by multiple, independent investigations. But despite this, the attacks continue, and worse still, amplified by the very people from whom we all expected the most steadfast support in this great transformation. This continuous drumbeat of distractions and negativity over the last several months/quarters, inhibits our ability to make positive change and stay focused on value creation.”

Read more: 3 Ways Infosys Can Hit $20-Bn By 2020

U B Pravin Rao is currently the Chief Operating Officer responsible for the entire portfolio of the company’s offerings. According to a press release, Rao oversees the key functions of global sales, global delivery and business enabling functions. He drives and oversees the continuous renewal of key processes, systems and policies across the company in client relationship management, sales effectiveness, delivery excellence, quality, talent management and leadership development. Pravin is also Chairperson of Infosys BPO. He comes with 30 years of experience.

When Sikka took over, the Company was lagging behind industry growth.  During his tenure as CEO, Infosys revenues have grown from $2.13B in Q1FY15 to $2.65B this past Q1, with strong margin performance and cash generation, throughout his tenure.  Sikka’s approach to profitable growth delivered increase in liquid assets (including cash and cash equivalents) from $4.9B in June 2014 to $6.1B in June 2017, while paying dividends of over INR 19,000 Cr. (including dividend distribution tax) over these three years. 

Under the leadership of Dr. Sikka, Infosys launched breakthrough new programs to drive innovation, education and entrepreneurship on a large scale. These programs included (i) Zero Distance, a program which was the first of its kind in the industry intended to drive grassroots innovation at a massive scale, through every employee, (ii) Design Thinking training, the largest program of its kind to drive creative confidence and problem-finding in every Infoscion, and (iii) Zero Bench, a bold notion of leveraging the bench as a means to drive additional value for clients.

Employee attrition reportedly decreased dramatically during Dr. Sikka’s tenure, particularly among high performers, utilization is at a 10-year high, and client satisfaction is at an all-time high. The Company launched more than 25 new services which rose to 8.3% of revenue last quarter, from zero percent in April 2015.

Sikka has also been a thought leader and visionary in artificial intelligence technology, recognizing early on the unprecedented value Infosys could deliver through automation and artificial intelligence-led innovation in clients’ businesses. Under his leadership, Infosys developed and launched its artificial intelligence platform Nia, and already has more than 160 artificial intelligence scenarios deployed with more than 70 clients. Infosys has also ventured into new horizons both with design-thinking with clients and its start-up investment fund. Further, the Infosys US foundation has done inspiring work in bringing computer science education and a culture of innovating to the masses

“Vishal has made a seminal contribution to the transformation of Infosys, and he will be remembered for infusing a refreshed sense of direction, purpose and energy in the organization. His vision for the future of the industry and the Company will remain a strong reference point as we chart the future course for Infosys in this new era in our rapidly evolving industry. On behalf of our entire board of directors, I wish him well for the future,” said R. Seshasayee, Chairman of the Board.

Ravi Venkatesan, Co-Chairman of the Board, said, “I want to thank Vishal for his commitment to ensure a smooth transition and his commitment to a seamless experience for our clients. Pravin is a veteran Infoscion with deep knowledge of the business, and his long experience in the Company will help ensure a smooth transition.”

Dr. Sikka commented, “I started my journey as the CEO of this iconic Company with a mission to transform it on the basis of software, especially [artificial intelligence], and innovation, enabled by education. Three years later, I feel proud of our progress and achievements, from profitable revenue growth to rapid purposeful adoption of software, new services and grassroots innovation, to the extraordinary recognition from our clients worldwide. I am deeply grateful to our Board for providing me with strong support and guidance, and especially wish to thank our Chairman [Seshasayee] for his extraordinary and thoughtful stewardship, and look forward to working together on a smooth transition.  Congratulations to my friend and partner Pravin on his appointment, and heartfelt thanks to all Infoscions for their warmth, amazing support and the sparks of their imagination.”

Infosys shares fell 7.1 per cent to a more than one-month low of Rs. 948.25 at 10 am.

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