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Couldn’t continue as Infosys CEO amid malicious attacks: Vishal Sikka in blog post

While Sikka will remain as the executive vice chairman on the board “to ensure continuity” for the time being, chief operating officer Pravin Rao is expected to take over as the interim CEO until a permanent replacement is found. Infosys shares tanked by 7.6% after the Bangalore-based IT firm made the announcement.

business Updated: Aug 18, 2017 13:34 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Infosys,Vishal Sikka,NR Narayana Murthy
Vishal Sikka was a member of the executive board and global managing board of SAP AG, a German multinational software corporation, before joining Infosys.(REUTERS File)

Infosys chief executive officer (CEO) Vishal Sikka stepped down from his position on Thursday, signalling an end to a protracted boardroom battle between him and the company’s founders – led by former chairman NR Narayana Murthy.

While Sikka will remain as the executive vice chairman on the board “to ensure continuity” for the time being, chief operating officer Pravin Rao is expected to take over as the interim CEO until a permanent replacement is found.

Infosys shares fell by as much as 7.6% after the Bangalore-based IT firm made the announcement.

An email on Sikka’s resignation, which was later shared on his blog, listed the achievements made by him and other members of the board over the last three years. The decision to quit, the former CEO said, was taken because he was unable to carry out his job as CEO while “constantly defending himself against unrelenting, baseless/malicious and increasingly personal attacks”.

The mail begins by describing how Sikka arrived at Infosys at a time when “growth rates were slow and attrition was high”. He had several intentions in mind, and they included “reshaping the company around innovation and entrepreneurship; delivering breakthrough value for clients; helping elevate our work, our standing, ourselves, on the basis of a dual strategy; and bringing together dualities of renew and new, automation and innovation, people and software, to show a new path forward in a time of unprecedented disruption within the industry and beyond”.

Sikka said his efforts had begun bearing fruit, with revenues growing from $2.13 billion in the first quarter of FY-2015 to $2.65 billion in the corresponding period this year.The company, he added, was doing better “in every dimension I can think of”.

But the successes, in themselves, weren’t enough to hold Sikka back. The former CEO said he finally decided to quit because of “the distractions and the very public noise around us (that have) created an untenable atmosphere”.

Quoting Apple CEO Steve Jobs to further drive home the reason for his decision, Sikka said: “Your time is limited, don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma. Don’t let the noise of other opinions drown your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become.”

This, the former Infosys CEO said in his email, was why he had decided to “move forward and return to an environment of respect, trust and empowerment, where I can take on new challenges”.

You may read the blog post, titled ‘Moving On’, here.

Infosys, in a statement, claimed to “understand and acknowledge” Sikka’s reasons for resigning. “The board denounces the critics who have amplified and sought to further promote demonstrably false allegations that have harmed employee morale and contributed to the loss of the company’s valued CEO,” it added.

Murthy and Sikka have been at loggerheads for quite some time now, with the founder repeatedly condemning the company CEO’s policies and business choices. Murthy even claimed in an email to a few of his advisors that he had heard people speak of Sikka as a better choice for the post of CTO (chief technology officer) than CEO.

Sikka was a member of the executive board and global managing board of SAP AG, a German multinational software corporation, before joining Infosys.

First Published: Aug 18, 2017 12:40 IST