Vishal Sikka vs Abidali Neemuchwala: A tale of two CEOs

  • Kalyan Subramani, Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
  • Updated: Apr 23, 2016 01:05 IST
CEO and MD of Infosys Vishal Sikka smiles during a press conference at the company's headquarters in Bangalore. (AP Photo)

Vishal Sikka and Abidali Neemuchwala took on their career’s greatest challenges as CEOs separated by 18 months. Both have already set the ball rolling on the 2020 vision, when they expect to double the revenue of Infosys and Wipro, respectively.

The road is likely to be anything, but smooth, considering the challenges in the global market place, primarily price negotiations with global customers.

According to the operating margins in the January-March quarter of 2015, Infosys (25%), has a 5% advantage over Wipro (20%). But while Sikka wants to push the envelope to grow margins to 30% by 2020, Neemuchwala is looking at a more conservative 23%.

Industry experts told HT that despite the big target ahead, Sikka enjoys certain advantages over Neemuchwala.

For starters, three big verticals — banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI), manufacturing and retail — contribute well over 70% of Infosys’s annual revenue.

“The size advantage will reflect on how much you can convert this edge into getting more business in the digital space. Gaining numbers in the digital business is not so much a technology challenge as it is a business challenge. Sharing the leadership position among the top three in any big vertical is a clear advantage,” a senior industry executive said.

Moreover, energy and utilities,, which contributes 15% to Wipro’s topline, has been under pressure due to dismal crude oil prices.

Abidali Neemuchwala, CEO of Wipro, laughs during a press conference. (Photo Courtesy: Wipro)

A good part of Sikka’s career, before he moved to Infosys, was with SAP, one of the largest global IT products company. With the Indian IT industry moving towards a software-cum-service model, it offers certain advantages. It has shown up in Sikka’s AI (artificial intelligence) and design-based brainchild, AIKIDO. At a recent media conference, Sikka said: “AIKIDO is not a department in Infosys…it is Infosys.”

Neemuchwala has spent most of his career (23 years) in a purely IT services-oriented company, Tata Consultancy Services.

Analysts also believe that Sikka enjoys a more free hand when it comes to running the show than his counterpart at Wipro.

“Vishal (Sikka) enjoys the complete support of the board of Infy with very little interference from the founders. I am not sure if we can say the same about Abid. Premji still has a majority stake in Wipro, and his son (Rishad) heads business strategy for the company,” an IT analyst said.

also read

Spice, GoAir in near-miss over Goa airport
Show comments