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In Infy, Kris may fill Nilekani's boots

Last updated on: March 28, 2011 13:00 IST

In Infy, Kris may fill Nilekani's boots

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Bibhu Ranjan Mishra in Bengaluru

The curtains are set to come down on one of India Inc's most celebrated succession dramas.

According to news coming from behind the closed walls of Infosys Technologies boardroom, Kris Gopalakrishnan will most likely take over as co-chairman - a position lying vacant after Nandan Nilekani quit in June 2009.

Gopalakrishnan became the chief executive officer (CEO) and managing director (MD) of Infosys on June 22, 2007.

According to sources close to the development, the Infosys board and the nominations committee are meeting on April 14 and 15 to take a call on the company's leadership changes.

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Image: Kris Gopalakrishnan.

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S D Shibulal, the current chief operating officer, may become the new MD and CEO of the company.

This is expected to be a precursor to finding a suitable non-executive chairman for the company when N R Narayana Murthy retires in August this year.

When contacted, Gopalakrishnan declined to comment.

"It is up to our board and the nominations committee to take a decision about top-level appointments, and they will do that at the appropriate time," Gopalakrishnan said.

But sources said, in his new role, Gopalakrishnan, a founder member of Infosys, would largely be responsible for the roles that Nilekani was performing before leaving the company.

This includes managing certain key clients and overseas branding activity.

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Image: S D Shibulal.

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Gopalakrishnan is also expected to be responsible for spearheading some key strategic initiatives being taken by the company such as investment for the future.

Sources said, after Shibulal moves out of his current role as COO, the company may not fill this position.

While his strategic role could come to Gopalakrishnan, various operational roles will be distributed across the existing executive committee members including Subhash Dhar, B G Srinivas, Chandra Shekar Kakal and Ashok Vemuri.

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According to human resource experts, one of the reasons the company is planning to make Gopalakrishnan the co-chairman is to ensure he can chair the board meetings if it fails to find a new chairman immediately after the retirement of Murthy.

"They are in no hurry for the chairmanship position as they have already zeroed in on a couple of names.

But even without that they intend to continue with Gopalakrishnan as co-chairman and Murthy as chairman emeritus of the company for a few quarters," highly placed sources said.

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Image: N R Narayani Murthy.

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Company insiders say most board members and the members of executive committee feel having a person from outside the company even if he/she is a foreigner makes no difference to the operations as the person will have no executive powers.

"As long as the external person is a non-executive chairman, it is okay. He is not going to hold any executive functions. He can see the board functions properly; he has to look into issues relating to corporate governance.

He should take part in the long-term strategy of the company; but he is not going to run the company," said highly-placed sources within Infosys who were privy to this development.


Image: Inside Infosys campus.

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