Wipro: Experts worried about change of guard

Bangalore | Updated on January 24, 2011

Mr T.K. Kurien, new CEO   -  PTI

While Wipro's leadership change at the helm is being touted as a long-term decision, it could cause short-term flux among customers, senior employees and other stakeholders, caution industry experts.

According to a cross section of HR leaders, the twin exits of Mr Girish Paranjpe and Mr Suresh Vaswani as Joint CEOs (IT Business) could have an impact on employees, and Wipro may see some exits. Mr Karthik Ananth, Director-Market Expansion, Zinnov Management Consulting, says: “Wipro has had a significant amount of attrition at the middle management level in the last 18 months. The change at the helm will result in a state of flux in the near-term. As joint CEOs, Mr Paranjpe and Vaswani were executive sponsors for critical customer relationships and there will be an impact on the CEO-connect with customer stakeholders. Wipro might lose some ground to competition in the near term as things settle down. This will also test the leadership depth at Wipro.”

On possible employee exodus, Mr T. K. Kurien, who will take over as CEO, said, “The organisation has the strength to take changes in its stride and move on. We have managed changes well in the past. We do not anticipate any leadership exits barring those with individual pursuits.”

In the year that Mr Paranjpe and Mr Vaswani took over — 2008 — Wipro saw at least three senior-level exits: Mr Sudip Banerjee, who headed Wipro IT's Enterprise Solutions, moved to L&T Infotech as CEO; Mr Sudip Nandy who was the telecom and product engineering head, became Aricent' CEO; while Mr P.R. Chandrasekhar, who headed Wipro's Americas and Europe business, became Hexaware's CEO.

Sources in the company said employees are apprehensive about Mr Kurien taking over as the CEO as “he's more an operations person than a strategy or a people's person”. “Mr Premji has changed the leadership to improve margins, and Mr Kurien is known to be a hard taskmaster,” said a person close to the development.

On the contrary, industry observers feel Mr Premji's majority stake in the company could work in its favour even in such disturbing circumstances, as it is seen as a stable company with no impact on ownership change.

Leadership change is expected to bring in new initiatives and focus on new growth areas. “Our long-term strategy is to position ourselves well in markets and geographies that are growing and this is where our investments will go,” said Mr Kurien.

Comments Mr Venkat Shastry, Client Partner Global Technology Markets Korn/Ferry International, “With changing customer expectations for differentiated value, pressure for leadership to deliver will intensify. However these changes can throw significant opportunities for global companies or even mid-sized companies to access experienced Indian talent.”

Published on January 24, 2011

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