When NR Narayana Murthy, the outgoing chairman of Infosys, asked CEO-designate Vishal Sikka the meaning of his surname, he answered “money” – a pun on the Hindi word for coin. And the software giant is tossing up this coin the hope of winning back its industry leadership.
Sikka, who turned 47 on the first of this month days after leaving a Rs 32-crore per annum (4 million euro) job, may have just the mix of degrees and pedigree to make that happen.
A PhD from Stanford University in computer science, but with his roots in small-town India, the former board member of SAP AG is a man of many parts.
Born to Punjabi parents in Madhya Pradesh, raised in Baroda, Gujarat, Sikka, son of a railway engineer and a teacher, has played entrepreneur in a successful technology startup and also held key positions in global giants such as all-American Xerox and German SAP, which might help his role in steering innovation while dealing with large service customers.
A US citizen, Sikka lives in California with his family. “I plan to live in California but will spend significant amount of time in Bangalore,” he said of his new role.
At business software leader. SAP, Sikka was the mastermind who created HANA, a game-changing database platform, but sounds simple when he describes himself.
“Husband, Dad, Son, Brother, Friend. Student, Visitor, Thinker, Innovator. Occasional Surfer on life’s waves...” is how his Twitter profile describes him.
He joined SAP in 2002 and went on to become its chief software architect. A favourite of SAP founder Hasso Plattner, Sikka became the first-ever chief technology officer of the German software giant in 2007.