Infosys has set the ball rolling to find a replacement for SD Shibulal, the last of its co-founders, who has expressed his desire to step down as CEO and MD before his term ends, in March next year.

A nominations committee will shortlist and evaluate internal candidates with the assistance of Development Dimensions International, a company specialising in corporate executive evaluation.

Another entity, Egon Zehnder, an executive search firm, will assist the committee in identifying external candidates, a statement from Infosys said on Friday.

It said Shibulal, 59, who took over the reins in August 2011, will retire either on the date of the last board meeting before his superannuation, in January, or when his successor is ready to assume office, whichever is earlier.

The front runners for the CEO’s position are two internal candidates — BG Srinivas and UB Pravin Rao, both of whom were appointed in January as presidents handling internal and external roles.

Srinivas focuses on global markets, with thrust on bagging outsourcing deals, while Rao was asked to head global delivery and service innovation, which looks at executing outsourcing projects.

Outside candidate

As for candidates from outside, Cognizant CEO Francisco D’Souza may be on top of the list.

Analysts believe that Shibulal’s exit will not impact Infosys’ performance. They also feel that the time span of a year will give enough for the new CEO to chart out the vision for the company.

“They have enough time and when the mentor (NR Narayana Murthy) is there, I don’t see any impact on the company’s performance,” said AK Prabhakar, an independent IT analyst. According to Ravi Menon, IT analyst at Centrum Broking, the sooner a successor is identified, the better it will be as it will lend stability to the organisation.

TV Mohandas Pai, Chairman of Manipal Global Education and a former board member and CFO, shared a similar view. He said that it is important for the new CEO to be in place by December as the budgets get finalised and he/she can also shape the company’s vision. Pai expects Infosys to name a new CEO within a couple of months.

Planned decision

Lead independent director KV Kamath termed Shibulal’s decision as planned.

“Shibulal was to retire in early March and the last board meeting is the January one and nothing more should be read into that,” he said.

(This article was published on April 11, 2014)
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