'Next Infosys CEO should be from within'

Last Updated: Fri, Aug 31, 2012 05:18 hrs
An employees walks past a signage board in the Infosys campus at the Electronics City IT district in Bangalore

Infosys, India's second-largest information technology services company, has, many a time, maintained it was one of the few companies across the globe to have established a proper leadership development model. The success of that model would be tested when the company scouts for its next managing director and chief executive, according to Kris Gopalakrishnan, executive co-chairman of the Bangalore-based company.

Gopalakrishnan said he believed it was best someone from within the company took the 'driver's seat'. "Typically, I would say if we have to bring somebody from outside, it will prove everything we are doing has failed. I hope not," he said.

When Gopalakrishnan took over as executive co-chairman of Infosys in April 2011, one of the many responsibilities he was entrusted with was to groom prospective leaders to fill the vacuum after the exit of the company's co-founders. Among the seven co-founders, only Gopala-krishnan and S D Shibulal still hold executive positions at the company. According to the retirement policy followed at Infosys, Shibulal would retire in about three years, when he turns 60.

The industry is abuzz with names of possible contenders for the top post. Among the names being discussed are Ashok Vemuri, head of Americas, manufacturing and engineering services, and B G Srinivas, head of Europe, banking, financial services and insurance. Sources say V Balakrishnan, chief financial officer and member of the board, is also a contender.

Human resource officials and industry analysts said the real challenge before the company would arise when it would have to weigh the candidates, adding this might lead to discontent among the company's brass. They added this was one reason why so far, Infosys had not created a clear 'number two' post - that of chief operating officer. Infosys, however, has maintained under its new structure, there was no requirement for a chief operating officer. Gopalakrishnan indicated finding the next leader wouldn't be easy, though the company had enough depth of leadership.

"You take due care and do everything possible to make the right choices and the right things. But the world is very complicated, and things are not fully under your control. So, there may be some challenges, but only the future would tell," he said.

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