Shiv Nadar steps down as HCL Tech chairman, daughter Roshni takes over

Shiv Nadar will continue as managing director, with the designation of chief strategy officer, the company said. Roshni Nadar Malhotra (left) had become vice-chairman in October 2018. FILE PHOTO
HCL Technologies, the third-largest IT services company in India, said Friday that its co-founder Shiv Nadar had stepped down as chairman of the board of directors and handed over the baton to his daughter Roshni Nadar Malhotra.

Nadar, 75, will continue as the company’s managing director, with the designation of chief strategy officer, the Noida-headquartered company said in a statement.

The groundwork for Malhotra’s elevation as chairman has been in the making since the Kellogg Graduate School of Management alumna joined HCLT’s board in 2013 as a non-executive director. In October 2018, she became vice-chairman of the board, paving the way for her succession to the top job.

Nadar, considered one of the founders of the Indian information technology industry, started HCL with five others, including Ajai Chowdhry and Arjun Malhotra, in 1976. The company was originally called Microcomp Limited, before changing its name to Hindustan Computers Limited, from which the present name, HCL, was derived.

“Shiv is an institution in himself, one who has built many other great institutions. This took guts, intellect, passion and perseverance,” said Vineet Nayar, chairman of Sampark Foundation, and a former CEO of HCL Technologies. “I am sure HCL will fly high under Roshni, who leads with purpose, passion and pride,” he added.

Nadar’s stepping down as HCL chairman marks the end of an era in the Indian IT services industry. In most companies, the exit of the founders has seen either their second generation or professionals from outside taking over the top job. For example, in July 2019, when Wipro’s founder, Azim Premji, retired as chairman of the board of directors, his older son, Rishad Premji, succeeded him in the board.

Among the top five Indian IT services firms, it is only in Infosyswhere a co-founder has had to come back to helm the board as executive chairman. 

HCL Technologies has said that it is not expecting any change in strategy owing to the change. 

During the company’s results press conference, CEO C Vijayakumar told the media that this was part of HCL’s succession planning.

“Our strategy has been very well thought through, and it is being executed very well. We are very much focused on executing the strategy than the strategy itself,” he said. “I do not see any change as Shiv continues to play the role of the chief strategy officer.”

In fact, the role of chief strategy officer is very dear to Nadar, given the pace at which the IT industry is growing. Talking about the criticality of the role in one of his earlier meetings with Business Standard, Nadar had said that his job was to ensure the company, though huge, was not disrupted by younger and more agile entities in the industry.

 “HCL has become an elephant and elephants can run only at a certain pace. So they have to be mindful of the fact that the deer can easily outpace them,” he said.

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