IT firms going global, even in boardrooms

Updated on Feb 11, 2008 01:36 PM IST
It's not just the business where Indian IT firms are expanding to the global shores; even their boardrooms are getting an international flavour.
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PTI | By, New Delhi

It's not just the business where Indian IT companies are expanding to the global shores; even their boardrooms are getting an international flavour.

A dozen of Indian IT firms, including giants like Infosys, TCS and HCL Technologies, have a minimum one foreigner sitting on their boards, according to an analysis of their board of directors compositions.

Other major firms in IT space with non-resident Indians as their directors include Mahindra group's Tech Mahindra, Patni Computer, iGate, iFlex, Mphasis and Moser Baer.

Besides, BPO majors Genpact, WNS and EXL Service also have one or more foreigners as their board members. According to industry experts, having people with significant experience in the global markets, even if as independent directors, helps a company establish a global brand value and it becomes more relevant for IT companies whose most of the revenue come from overseas markets.

A number of these companies, although having most of their operations in India, are also listed in the US. Such companies include Infosys, Patni, Genpact, WNS and EXL.

"Infosys is a truly global Indian company. We became the first company to get listed on the Nasdaq in 2006," Infosys co-Chairman and founding member Nandan Nilekani said on the sidelines of a conference here.

According to Infosys, its board consists of senior officers of the company, as well as external members who are "global leaders with high achievements in business and society."

"Infosys board brings together a team of technology, business and social visionaries who provide direction to Infosys' executive management in a dynamic economic and business environment," the company says on its website.

Infosys' board consists of Claude Smadja, David Boyles and Jeffrey Lehman along with its founding members -- NR Narayana Murthy, Nandan Nilekani, TV Mohandas Pai and S Gopalakrishnan.

While Jeffrey S Lehman is a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, Claude Smadja is the President of Smadja and Associates, a strategic advisory.

Commenting on this trend, Alan Rosling, Executive Director at the country's leading corporate house Tata group's holding company Tata Sons, said, "The Indians firms are now becoming truly global. They not only have non-Indian employees working for them but also representation on their board from non-Indians."

The group's IT arm and the country's largest software exporter Tata Consultancy Service (TCS) has three non-Indians -- Prof Clayton M Christensen, Laura Cha and Ron Sommer as its independent Directors on board out of total 12 members.

Christensen is a Director at Harvard Business School, while Sommer is the Director Member of International Advisory Board of Blackstone Group. Laura Cha is a member of the Executive Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) and Non-Executive Chairman of HSBC Investment Asia Holdings Ltd.

Besides, the country's fifth largest software exporter HCL technologies also have one non-Indian Robin Abrams, formerly COO of e-commerce solutions provider Chemdex, on its board.

However, some of the leading IT firms such as Wipro, Satyam and NIIT Tech have no representation from non-Indians, though these companies also have considerable operations in various parts of the globe.

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