Exit of Vikram Pandit as chief of banking giant Citigroup may have come as a big surprise, but experts are convinced that it is a one-off case and Indian-origin CEOs would continue to be prominent players at global firms.
Despite Pandit’s departure and the charges against another high-profile Indian-origin executive Rajat Gupta, the former Goldman Sachs director, the number of India-born CEOs at reputed international MNCs remains very impressive, the experts said.
“I do not believe that there is any negative perception as such on global Indian CEOs. On the contrary, many of the Indian origin C-suite executives have done very well in the global stage,” global executive search Firm EMA Partners International’ Managing Partner (Asia Emerging Markets) K Sudarshan said.
Randstad India MD and CEO E Balaji said these incidents are not likely to have an impact because there are hundreds of very successful Indian executives at the helm of global MNCs. “All global CEOs are under pressure because of the economic situation and strong investor demands. This is not isolated to just India or Indian CEOs it is a global phenomenon and most of the global CEOs are under pressure,” he said.
Asked whether the cases of Pandit and Gupta are aberrations or an an emerging trend about diminishing profile of Indian-origin CEOs at global level, most of the experts said these instances should be generalised.
They point out names like Anshu Jain of Deutsche Bank, Padmashree Warrior of Cisco, Rakesh Kapoor of Reckitt Benckiser and Ajay Banga of MasterCard as successful examples as heads of global giants in various sectors.
Citigroup last week announced that Pandit was resigning as its CEO, taking the business world by surprise as he was credited with a major turnaround of the global banking giant from a deep crisis it had plunged into in 2007-2008.
A number of western media reports in the past have also said that Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of food and beverages major PepsiCo, is facing heat from investors. She has been running the company since late 2006. However, the experts here are convinced that Nooyi is doing a wonderful job at PepsiCo.
“She has done a stellar job in Pepsi in difficult and changing market conditions and given the way carbonated drinks are perceived in an era where people are more health and fitness conscious,” Sudarshan said.
“PepsiCo has a much wider product portfolio and I believe it is unfair just to compare them only with Coca Cola and pass judgement on her contribution,” he added.Explaining the way the corporate world reacts whenever any such development concerning top executives happens, GlobalHunt CEO Sunil Goel said: “People at the top in the corporate are role models and leaders for lot many future leaders…
“So, it is important that the CEOs not only maintain high level of integrity and ethics, they also take up moral responsibilities for the right influence to the society,” he said. Last year, US magazine Time had said that India’s leading export to the world community is not any mere commodity of finished goods product, but it is CEOs.
“This can vary from company to company and individual to individual, as well a certain level of professionals can not be stamped for few instances, good and bad both the parts could be seen in future and still there will be possibility where the human psychology can be read to an extent and not fully,” Goel said.
Some other noted Indian origin C-class executives at leading global MNCs include Harish Manwani of Unilever, Ajit Jain — of Berkshire Hathaway, Nikesh Arora of Google, Shantanu Narayen of Adobe Systems, Lakshmi Mittal of ArcelorMittal and Sanjay Jha of Motorola Mobility.
Moreover, the US President Barack Obama’s administration has a large number of Indian Americans. The World Bank also last month appointed Kaushik Basu as its Chief Economist and Senior Vice President.
Kalpana Kochhar, the Chief Economist for the South Asia Region is another Indian holding a top position in the World Bank.