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Infosys may hire a foreigner as CEO

June 13, 2013 10:52 IST

Infosys may hire a foreigner as CEO

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Bibhu Ranjan Mishra in Bangalore

In his second innings at Infosys, N R Narayana Murthy, executive chairman of the company, is learnt to have initiated an arduous task of searching for a new chief executive officer, who in all possibility is going to be a foreigner.  


According to persons familiar with the development, the company is seriously considering a non-Indian CEO, preferably an American or British for the top position.

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Image: N R Narayana Murthy.
Photographs: Rajesh Karkera/Rediff.com

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The company is also learnt to have engaged in preliminary discussion with leading global recruitment agencies, including Heidrick & Struggles, Egon Zehnder and Russell Reynolds, to identify possible candidates. 


It is basically looking at ‘second-rung’ leaders in global IT companies like IBM, Accenture and Capgemini, to get global visibility and enhance in brand image in client geographies, one of the sources said. 

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Image: Infosys founders (Left to right): Nandan Nilekani, S Gopalakrishnan, N R Narayana Murthy, K Dinesh, N S Raghavan and S D Shibulal.
Photographs: Courtesy: Infosys Technologies

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An email query to Infosys in this regard did not elicit any reply from the company.    


"One of the pressing reasons behind the return of Murthy to Infosys is that the board felt he would be the ideal person to execute the unfinished agenda of identifying the next CEO, who is going to be a non-founder.  

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Image: Infosys' pyramid-shaped building in Bengaluru.
Photographs: Courtesy, Infosys.

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The board felt that with the search options no longer including the co-founders, the company has got a wider choice of candidates from the industry, and the finality is also expected to cause a lot of heartburn since there are few aspirants from within the company,” sources familiar with the development said.

According to sources, to hire a non-Indian as the CEO is one of the possible options the company had evaluated when Murthy stepped down as the CEO in 2002. But finally the position went to Nandan Nilekani, another co-founder who proved himself as a huge success during his stint. 

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Image: N R Narayana Murthy (R) and Nandan M. Nilekani attend a news conference in Bangalore, April 14, 2006.
Photographs: Jagadeesh/Reuters

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Given the fact that, none of the co-founders are now under contention for the top post, the company this time has decided to broaden the search and look for a CEO with global image.


“You need a personality to lead an organization like Infosys and that is why people like Murthy are still relevant for the company at this age,” said B S Murthy, CEO of executive search firm LeadershipCapital.

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Image: Infosys Mangalore campus.
Photographs: Courtesy, Infosys

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“My observation is that in the next 8-12 months, they would initiate a CEO search under Murthy’s leadership, and probably get someone from large global IT Organisations who are well-versed with the changing dynamics at the market place and understand the clients much better. It makes lot more sense for a company like Infosys,” he added.


Murthy however has enough time to find out the next CEO for the company since the incumbent S D Shibulal has at least another two years to go before his retirement.

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Image: S D Shibulal, CEO, Infosys.
Photographs: Vivek Prakash/Reuters.

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According to various reports, Infosys has already indicated that three of its executive directors including V Balakrishnan, B G Srinivas and Ashok Vemuri would be considered when they start evaluating candidates internally. 

In October last year, when Balakrishnan stepped down from the position of CFO, Murthy had acknowledged that he would be one of the contenders for the CEO position when Shibulal retires. 

“I have no doubt at all that the Nominations Committee will look at him (Balakrishnan) at the time when they have to choose the next CEO,” Murthy had said in a statement.


Image: V Balakrishnan
Photographs: Reuters.

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