So the change of guard in Infosys Technologies looks smooth after what seemed like uneasy questions over the exit of Mohan Das Pai, the company’s human resources chief and former chief financial officer.
It seems to me that the appointment of K V Kamath, the former chairman of ICICI Bank, as the one to succeed founder-chairman N R Narayana Murthy is just right as S D Shibulal, founder and veteran Infoscion, takes over as CEO. Here are my reasons
He is a seasoned banker: Bankers have a vantage point from which they have or can look at a host of industry domains. And that helps an information technology company like Infosys get a clear bird’s eye view as a services leader.
He is tech-savvy: At ICICI, Kamath ushered in technology and was a pioneer in e-business who built up icicidirect.com and other such properties.
He knows global corporate governance: Murthy took Infosys to list on the Nasdaq exchange and that almost overshadowed Kamath’s taking ICICI to list on the New York Stock Exchange. In investor relations and disclosures, that’s a big plus.
He complements Shibulal: As of now Infosys has no chief operating officer. New CEO Shibulal has a “global delivery” DNA. Any articulation gap that he has in evangelising Infosys can be duly taken up by Kamath.
He can improve gender balance: Infosys is still male dominated. The bypassing of Hema Ravichandar, who was global HR head, to a board seat, was a jarring note in Infosys’ journey to diversity. It is time Kamath brought in some of the savvy he used in mentoring and grooming the likes of Chanda Kochhar, Shikha Sharma and Kalpana Morparia. (Wild card: watch out for Madhabi Puri Buch, who just quit ICICI).
He can inspire young techies: Kamath has an avuncular, empowering style that towers taller than Murthy’s schoomasterish perfectionism in the grooming of Gen X techies and managers. Infosys still has to address the issue of mid-level exits and attrition.
He is a trend-spotter: Kamath has a child-like curiosity that belies his age and, as the global delivery model (offshore IT in the good old days) grapples with remotely delivered “cloud computing” a trend-spotting chairman can give strategic vision.