Infosys ropes in Vishal Sikka from SAP as new CEO

India’s second-largest IT software company has named 47-year old Vishal Sikka as its new chief executive, ending more than a year-long search for finding a replacement after S D Shibulal, co-founder and current CEO, decided to step down.

This marks the first external candidate to take over the reins of the IT services major, once seen as a bellwether for Indian IT sector. The firm, which has been led by its co-founders who took turns to become its chief executive since it was founded around three decades ago, has been facing pressure from other faster growing peers over the recent past.

Sikka, who joined German software giant SAP in 2002 and became its first CTO in 2007 and was serving at its board before putting in his papers last month, has previously also founded two startups.

Born and brought up in Baroda, he previously had a brief stint with Xerox’s research lab. He then started iBrain which was later acquired by PatternRX, Inc. He then started, which was focused on developing technology for non-invasive, service-based integration of enterprise applications and information. This venture was acquired by Peregrine Systems and he served as its area vice-president for platform technologies, responsible for application development and integration technologies and architecture.

At SAP, Sikka led products and innovations, globally, and was responsible for all products—from traditional and cloud-based applications to technology and platform products, including HANA, analytics, mobile and middleware. Sikka holds a PhD in computer science from Stanford University in the US.

He will be inducted as a whole-time director of the board and CEO designate effective June 14. He would take over the reins from Shibulal on August 1.

 “I look forward to working with and learning from talented Infoscions around the world. Computing technology is reshaping every industry across every walk of life. We, at Infosys, have unique opportunity to deliver breakthrough solutions that will bring greater value to our clients, employees, investors and other stakeholders,” he said.

Infosys has also elevated its president and whole-time director UB Pravin Rao as COO, effective June 14.  

In addition, Infosys said co-founders NR Narayana Murthy and S Gopalakrishnan will voluntarily step down as executive chairman and executive vice chairman, respectively, on June 14. Murthy will be designated as chairman emeritus effective October 11.

KV Kamath will become the non-executive chairman of the board on the same day.

Rohan Murty, son of co-founder NR Narayana Murthy, who had joined the firm last year as his father took over the task of restructuring of the organisation at the top, a decision which was much criticised, will also step down from June 14.

Infosys’ scrip, which opened in the positive zone, was down 1.33 per cent in early trading hours quoting at Rs 3,136.55 a share on the BSE in a strong Mumbai market on Thursday.

The run up to the appointment of the new CEO saw over a dozen top level exits from the company in the last one year alone.

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)

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