Infosys hires Salil Parekh as CEO and MD

Salil Parekh, Infosys
Ending a three-month-long search, Infosys on Saturday named Salil S Parekh, a member on the board of its global rival Capgemini, as its new chief executive officer (CEO) and managing director (MD).

The previous CEO, Vishal Sikka, quit on August 18 this year. Parekh will join Infosys on January 2 next year.

Parekh joined Capgemini when the French firm acquired the consulting arm of EY in 2000. He grew through the ranks to become chairman of Capgemini India. In 2015, he took up a global role as deputy CEO and member of the board at Capgemini.

He has led the growth trajectory for Capgemini India as an offshore destination to deliver client projects. During his tenure, the Capgemini team grew from 800 people to over 85,000 in India. This included the acquisition of iGATE Corporation.

“Parekh comes from services, which has been impacted by digital transformation. He has led his company through this,” said Sanchit Vir Gogia, founder and CEO of Greyhound Research, a technology researcher. “This sort of pedigree is tough to get.”

Former Infosys Chairman Nandan Nilekani, who returned to lead the company after Sikka’s exit, said Parekh’s anointment would help the company in implementing the software-plus-services strategy his predecessor, Sikka, had initiated.

“He (Parekh) has nearly three decades of global experience in the IT services industry. He has a strong track record of executing business turnarounds and managing very successful acquisitions,” said Nilekani in a statement. “The board believes that he is the right person to lead Infosys at this transformative time in our industry.”

Nilekani had tasked global executive search firm Egon Zehnder with the responsibility of finding a new CEO for the IT major.

U B Pravin Rao, who held charge as the interim CEO and MD, will be re-designated as the chief operating officer.

Since Sikka quit Infosys, the IT bellwether has gone back to being conservative and cut its growth forecast for the year ahead, citing slow business in the second half. The firm has focused on improving execution and driving efficiency, reflected in higher employee utilisation. It also partnered with local financial technology start-ups to take its solutions to global banking clients.

Parekh will be the second non-founder CEO at Infosys, after Sikka.

Sikka and the Infosys board, led by R Seshasayee, had irked co-founder N R Narayana Murthy, who had raised concerns over corporate governance issues in the company. The two issues on which they locked horns were the $200-million acquisition of the Israeli tech firm, Panaya, and the subsequent severance pay to former CFO Rajiv Bansal.

Infosys had conducted an independent inquiry into these allegations and given a clean chit to both Sikka and the board.

In October, Nilekani also gave a clean chit and struck peace with Murthy, saying consultation would be held with the co-founder, as part of the firm's outreach to its shareholders.

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, chairperson of the nominations and remunerations committee of Infosys, said, “After a comprehensive global search effort, we are pleased to appoint Salil as the CEO and MD. He was the top choice from a pool of highly qualified candidates. With his strong track record and extensive experience, we believe, we have the right person to lead Infosys.”

Murthy said he was happy with Parekh’s appointment.

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