The Infosys Board Reshuffle : Such a Damp Squib

1 05 2011

The much awaited board level changes at Infosys has been announced.  Though the company has called it” Continuity with change “, it is more of continuity and less of change. Thus making it a non-event. Not unlike the recent cabinet reshuffle by Manmohan Singh. The recent resignation of Mohandas Pai from the board was a far more interesting and news-worthy event.

These board level changes were preceded by a huge media build-up. The succession planning  for Narayana Murthy at Infosys was compared with the succession planning at the Tata Group for Ratan Tata. There was a committee appointed under the leadership of Jeffrey Lehmann. After all the deliberations, they have chosen K V Kamath as the successor of Mr. Murthy as the Chairman of Infosys. Mr. Murthy however does not leave the company entirely, he will continue as Chairman Emeritus. However hard he tries to portray the image of a great renouncer, Infosys and NRN refuse to leave each other.

Mr.  Kamath, the Non-Executive Chairman of ICICI Bank has already been a member of the Infosys board since 2009. Among the non-founder directors on the board, Mr. Kamath was the only serious contender. All the other board members like Omkar Goswami , Rama Bijapurkar, Marti Subramanium, Mr.Lehman himself are either academics or consultants. None of them have any experience of chairing any large company board. If Mr. Kamath were the only pragmatic option left, was there really a need for such a media build-up?

If any contest was there, it was perhaps there between Mr Kamath and Kris Gopalakrishnan, the current MD and CEO. Even that choice has been obviated by announcing Mr  Gopalakrishnan as the Executive C0-chairman.  Shibulal takes over from Mr Gopalakrishnan as the MD and CEO.The Putin-Medvedev combination of Mr.Gopalakrishnan and Mr. Shibulal will continue to be present as Co-chairman and CEO, instead of CEO and COO. By not announcing a COO , the perception of status quo remains. If they had announced a COO, at least that would have been interesting as there are no other founders left. The only remaining founder director, Mr S.Dinesh quit as Director recently citing personal reasons. 

This blogger believes nothing much will change. An opportunity to reinvent Infosys through top-level changes has been lost. The company and the minority shareholders thereby have become a victim of the arrangement between the founders to take the top-job at Infosys by turns. It is absurd that the least capable among the founders ( a ranking which the founders made among themselves ) takes over the leadership position of the company when it has become huge. As Mr. Shibulal waited for his turn the company grew from a mid-size company to become a US 5 Billion $ company. His patience has been rewarded. But what about the other stakeholders? Thank God or shall we say thank K. Dinesh, that there are no more founders waiting for the top job.  

– G.Mohan

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