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Updated: June 14, 2014 01:09 IST

Sikka has a ‘NRN-like aura’, feel Infoscions

Deepa Kurup
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Vishal Sikka, new Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Infosys (designate)
The Hindu Vishal Sikka, new Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Infosys (designate)

Infosys’ newest poster boy-in-waiting has an image that has appealed to many Infoscions. At a townhall on Thursday—Infosys parlance for interactive sessions with employees—Vishal Sikka’s short and crisp speech, which underlined the importance of learning and education, impressed many.

His winning employee confidence is particularly important given the company he inherits is battling record attrition (over 18 per cent over the last fiscal year) and a series of top-level exits in the one year since company co-founder N.R. Narayana Murthy took over. Winning them over, along with putting in place a strong top management team, will be the top two priorities of the new CEO, experts have said, even as the exiting management has sought to underplay the impact of the latter.

Some of the employees told this correspondent that he had a “Narayan Murthy-like aura” in the way he spoke about things that are much larger than the nitty-gritty of work or business. “There’s some sort of a visionary-element in him,” said an employee, working at the Mysore campus, who watched a webcast of the Town hall session. “In the sense, the answers did not pertain to profitability or clients alone, he spoke about the blurring lines between products and services. He took the example of airplanes, which he said was earlier seen as a core engineering field but today falls into the ambit of services. There is certain clarity of thought there,” the employee said.

Few meetings

A senior executive, who said that Mr. Sikka has already met with some managerial teams, said that the “hands-on when it comes to clients and how to deal with expansion”. “His background at SAP gives him an advantage, we feel. Coming from a techno-business background, he will have a respect for both,” said the employee. Another employee said that his being enthusiastic about digital was a good thing to see as the general perception is that Infosys 3.0, an ambitious plan introduced during the tenure of current CEO S.D. Shibulal, had failed. “This many inside Infosys feel was the reason for the company lagging in terms of performance. We keep hearing about competition getting ahead with SMAC, while here the focus was being brought back on ‘bread and butter’,” she explained.

Sad about NRN

Even as analysts and experts have commended Mr Murthy for his premature exit—his second-innings have drawn flak for compromising on stated principles of corporate governance—many employees feel he should have stuck on. “Mr. Murthy’s Town hall talks were very popular, and many believe that he is reason we got two hikes last year. He had put the focus back on employees,” said a senior employee at Infosys. He should have stuck around till the new man could get on his feet, he added.

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