Vishal Sikka quits as Infosys CEO after months of battling with the old guard

Not happy.
Not happy.
Image: AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi
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Infosys is losing the captain of its mothership.

Vishal Sikka, the first non-founder managing director & CEO of the Indian software major, resigned today (Aug. 18), some three years after his appointment.

Sikka will continue as executive vice-chairman and hold office until a replacement is found. Till then, UB Pravin Rao, the current chief operating officer, will be interim CEO and managing director.

Following the announcement Sikka’s resignation, Infosys’s stock price plunged about 7% since the start of trade on the BSE.

In his resignation letter, Sikka cited “distractions…the constant drumbeat of the same issues over and over again, while ignoring and undermining the good work that has been done,” saying that it “(takes) the excitement and passion out of this amazing journey.” 

His departure comes weeks after the firm’s founding members voiced concerns over the running of Infosys.

While the name of Sikka, a former executive board member at the German multinational software corporation SAP, was announced with much fanfare in 2014, his tenure at Infosys has been far from smooth. His relationship with the company’s founders has been particularly uneasy.

For instance, in February this year, company founder NR Narayana Murthy had raised questions about poor corporate governance standards at the Bengaluru-based firm. Among other things, Murthy had voiced concerns about Sikka’s excessive salary package.

Recently, a former chief financial officer had suggested that Murthy return as “chairman emeritus, where he has no operational responsibility.” The tech giant’s current co-chairman, Ravi Venkatesan, too, had suggested the same.

For a company that has seen a slew of executive departures, Sikka’s presence was reassuring. Within the first week of his tenure, he rolled out 5,000 promotions and engaged with employees through initiatives such as “Murmuration”—crowd-sourcing ideas from employees—and made the office “cool” by relaxing dress codes and allowing the use of social media at work.

Since he took the reins in June 2014, Infosys’s profits and revenues had been climbing up. Under Sikka’s guidance, the company has tapped into new-age services like automation and focused on operational efficiency.