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Why 4,500 Indian IT Leaders Moved On

By Shivani Shinde
April 18, 2024 08:59 IST
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With the rush of growth after the pandemic slowing down, many leaders are moving to firms that may be smaller but are growing much faster and have the headroom to grow.

IMAGE: A couple of months after Wipro CEO Thierry Delaporte took questions from the media, as Wipro Chief Financial Officer Aparna Iyer looked on, during a media interaction announcing the company's quarterly results in Bengaluru, January 12, 2024, he was stepped down. Photograph: Reuters

About 4,500 leaders in the Indian information technology services sector switched jobs at least once in the past 12 months.

These individuals hold leadership positions, including those in the C-suite, directors, vice-presidents and assistant VPs, and heads of businesses and functions.

The movements represent 4.5 per cent of the total leadership cadre in the IT services sector in India, according to data from Xpheno, a specialised staffing firm.

While it is challenging to analyse the last time the IT industry saw such movement in senior leadership (individuals with over 15 to 20 years of experience), the current churn has left companies scrambling for talent.

Some of the headline-grabbing exits came from two companies, Infosys and Wipro.

In 2023 alone, over 30 senior executives were hired from Wipro and Infosys to join Tech Mahindra (TechM) and Cognizant.

"You have to see the current leadership churn in light of two significant developments that have occurred in the industry. Two large IT services firms have had new CEOs in the past year or so, and they are restructuring, hiring, or changing their leadership teams. Some churn can be attributed to these two new CEO appointments," said Kamal Karanth, co-founder of Xpheno.

This is evident in the number of people who have joined these firms. Between January and December 2023, Infosys saw nine senior exits.

This includes the resignation of Ravi Kumar, who joined Cognizant as CEO, and Mohit Joshi, who is now at the helm of Mumbai-headquartered Tech Mahindra.

Some of the other prominent names include Infosys CFO Nilanjan Roy and chief human resources officer Richard Lobo, among others.

Since Kumar has taken over Cognizant, he has hired over 20 senior executives to join at the level of executive VPs (EVPs) and senior VPs (SVPs).

According to media reports, over four EVPs and over 20 SVPs have been hired by Kumar.

The situation has been similar with TechM as well. Joshi has hired people from Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys, and Wipro.

Pareekh Jain, IT outsourcing advisor and founder of Pareekh Consulting, attributes this move to the broader macro conditions as well.

"The environment has been somewhat tough, so the writing has been on the wall for many. With below-average performance, senior talent is looking for better opportunities," he added.

Jain also states that being a business unit head and a CEO is different.

With the rush of growth after the pandemic slowing down, many leaders are moving to firms that may be smaller but are growing much faster and have the headroom to grow.

And finally, especially in the case of chief financial officers, managing just margins without any real growth is setting in fatigue.

Karanth further added that the headwinds haven't settled for IT companies; globally, their majority markets are still soft, and many are undergoing restructuring or some amount of transition.

"Some of the leaders are affected by the changes inflicted by these, whose roles have diminished and hence have quit," he added.

The other element that is working in favour of senior leaders is the global capacity centres' (GCCs') growth.

According to Xpheno, over 92 per cent of these movements were lateral movements within the IT services cohort. The remaining 8 per cent either moved to GCCs or product companies.

"Every year, at least 50 GCCs enter India and on average will need 10 to 12 senior leaders. A significant number of these senior leaders are hired from large IT services bellwethers," added Karanth.

Karanth believes that this leadership movement may take another six months to settle down. The good part is that these inter-company talent transitions are within the IT industry.

Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/

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Shivani Shinde
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