Nandan Nilekani, who took over as non-executive chairman of Infosys Board, is expected to put the multinational corporation back on track soon and assure the investors and the shareholders that all is well with the company.
Experts with whom THE WEEK spoke to feel that Nilekani may do this by talking to top Infosys customers and assuring them that operationally, the company is at its best and will continue to deliver well. At the same time, the Infosys veteran is expected to help the company get a new CEO and a few more independent directors as a few of its US-based directors have resigned. Experts also feel that Nilekani will also aim at striking a perfect balance between the Infosys board and the company's founders.
Kris Lakshmikanth, founder of the recruitment firm Head Hunters India, feels that the top priority for Nilekani will be to get a new CEO for the company. “Getting a CEO may take some time, say a couple of months. Since he is an Infosys veteran and has worked closely with some of the Infosys customers, he may once again revisit many of them and assure them that everything is in order. He is also expected to meet a lot fund houses and investors to assure them that the company is back on track,” said Lakshmikanth.
This expert however feels that corporate governance is an issue that may take some time for Nilekani to resolve, but gradually it will be cleared. “He may also like to get two or three independent directors on the board as a few of them have resigned,” added Lakshmikanth.
Experts such as Alok Shende of Ascentius Consulting feel that since the whole fracas has happened due to the issue of corporate governance, Nilekani would first like to solve the different aspects around it. “He may like to go back and may relook at the whole thing and may even release a new statement or a report which talks about clearing the concerns of the founders around the issue of corporate governance. He may even try to address the concerns of Murthy point by point and will try to bring in transparency about the whole issue,” Shende said.
Surya Mahadevan of TAPMI, Manipal, noted that Nilekani's top priority will be to initiate the search for a new CEO and energise employees to engage with customers and restore confidence. “Nilekani will also have to untangle the corporate governance issue, ensure logical closure, articulate the transformation strategy and medium term plan for Infosys and ensure the action plans are rolled out in quick time frame. Investor confidence will get restored when the company gets into business as usual,” said Mahadevan.
Another expert, S. Subramanyam of Ascent Consulting, is of the view that Nilekani taking charge would be a sane step for restoring confidence in all the stakeholders and in stabilising the enterprise until a new CEO is found. “Infosys is built on a strong foundation and minor tremors can just be a wake up call. The question remains though on the vagaries imposed on the enterprise unwittingly by promoters believing that to be the best practice. To add, governance is a great practice only when leadership is in place. History has proven this time and again in political situations,” said Subramanyam.
It may be recalled that on Thursday chairman of the Infosys board R. Seshasayee and members Vishal Sikka, Jeffrey Lehman and John Etchemendy stepped down from the board with immediate effect. At the same time, after the appointment of Nilekani as chairman, Ravi Venkatesan stepped down from his role as co-chairman, but has decided to continue on the Infosys board. Lehman was scheduled to retire from the board in April 2018.