Infosys co-founder returns to lead IT firm following CEO departure

Co-founder of Infosys Nandan Nilekani will immediately assume the role of non-executive chairman.

Co-founder of Infosys Nandan Nilekani is returning to lead the IT services firm, after CEO Vishal Sikka's resignation last week.

Nilekani, who served as Infosys' CEO from 2002 to 2007, will immediately take up the role of non-executive chairman of the board.

"I am happy to return to Infosys ... and look forward to working with my colleagues on the board and in executive management on the business opportunities we see before us and delivering benefits to our clients, shareholders, employees and communities," Nilekani said in a statement.

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Nandan Nilekani, co-founder, Infosys

Image: Infosys

Nilekani, 62, was tasked with implementing India's Aadhaar program, a biometric database that now has more than a billion Indians enrolled.

"Nilekani is an iconic leader, a successful entrepreneur and investor, and someone who has played a pivotal role in India's transition to a digital economy," Infosys said in a statement.

Last week, Sikka cited "personal attacks" and executive tensions as the main reasons for his departure, describing the atmosphere surrounding the Bangalore-headquartered company as "untenable".

"I cannot carry out my job as CEO and continue to create value, while also constantly defending against unrelenting, baseless/malicious, and increasingly personal attacks," the former CEO said in a blog post.

Sikka was the first CTO at SAP before joining India's second-largest IT firm in June 2014. At the time, his arrival was considered a turning point and a chance for the company to embark on a transformational journey.

Sikka had a significant impact on Infosys' growth strategy -- shifting the focus from contracts over to software and platforms -- and employee morale. In large part, Sikka was successful, restoring credibility, attracting and retaining talent, and helping turn around revenue in his first two years on the job.

More recently, however, Infosys has been struggling with declining profits, and Sikka found himself dragged into a public feud with co-founder Narayana Murthy, who questioned the firm's decision on compensation doled out to senior executives.

Sikka's salary hiked 55 percent to $11 million in 2016, though Murthy's main concerns were that the former CEO's salary was 283 times larger than the median salary of an Infosys employee and that others in the company who were not necessarily working as hard had high salaries as well.

"Life is too short to engage in battles of opinions in the public, these add no value, take critical time and focus away from the business, and indeed add more to the noise, to the eardrum buzz, as I wrote to you a few months ago," Sikka said in his blog post last week.

"I now need to move forward, and return to an environment of respect, trust, and empowerment, where I can take on new lofty challenges, as can each of you."

With AAP

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