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Vishal Sikka: The outsider who changed the way Infosys worked

Visal Sikka, the first non-founder to head Infosys, resigned as the IT major’s managing director and chief executive on Friday.

business Updated: Aug 18, 2017 12:42 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Vishal Sikka,Infosys,Vishal Sikka resigns
Vishal Sikka attends a news conference in Mumbai.(Reuters File Photo)

In 2014, Vishal Sikka moved into the Infosys corner room that was once occupied by NR Narayana Murthy and became the first non-founder CEO of Infosys. Three years later, Sikka abruptly resigned on Friday amid reports of deep divisions on the Infosys board and questions about Sikka’s future at the company.

The ‘kshatriya warrior’ – Vishal Sikka calls himself one – changed many things at Infosys: he overhauled the organisational structure, increased the thrust on artificial intelligence and based on this laid down Vision 2020.

His experiences include research in artificial intelligence, intelligent systems, programming languages and models, and information management.

Sikka was ranked 39th in India Today magazine’s list of 50 most powerful people in India because “as the first person in Infosys’ 35-year history brought in to lead from outside, he scripted a successful turnaround for the company... “

Before Infosys, Sikka held various roles at SAP for 12 years, leading all products and technologies, including all of product development and driving innovation.

But Sikka had wanted to leave SAP because he wanted to move on with his life after a 2008 accident in Costa Rica where he was vacationing with his family, the Business Standard said. Eventually, he created one of SAP’s most successful products after the founder Hasso Plattner gave him a free hand to renew the company. According to reports, the German company’s fortunes peaked under Sikka’s leadership and plunged after he left the company.

Sikka worked at Xerox’s research Palo Alto Labs before he founded two companies -- iBrain with his brother, and Bodha.com. He became the vice president for Platform Technologies after the acquisition of his startups.

Sikka received his BS in Computer Science from Syracuse University and has a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Stanford University, his profile said on the Infosys website.

Sikka introduces himself as a “husband, dad, son, brother, friend, student” on his Twitter profile before mentioning Infosys. In a blog post, he said his wife -- who jokingly calls him a ‘fake punjabi’ -- was his anchor, companion and his compass. “Her singular support, strength, dedication, selflessness and passion have reminded me of what unquestioned support is all about, what love means and makes us do.”

The former Infosys CEO’s blog ‘Timelessness’ features an occasional poem and a tribute for his mother. One of his pieces from November 2014 reads:

In the moment

With its momentum

The rain drop slides down the window

Purposeful, making its way to its potential

Does it know it is the rain?

First Published: Aug 18, 2017 12:15 IST