Vishal Sikka resigns: UB Pravin Rao, a 'homegrown leader', named Infosys' interim CEO and MD

Vishal Sikka has resigned as the chief executive officer and managing director of Infosys, CNBC TV 18 reported. The latest development just day after reports claimed that Infosys founder Narayana Murthy had been told by three independent directors that Sikka was more of a chief technology officer (CTO) than a CEO. The 9 August letter had also raised questions about Sikka's leadership at a time when the company is going through a difficult period.

UB Pravin Rao, the current COO, has been appointed as the interim CEO and managing director. Rao, who joined Infosys in 1986, has held a number of positions in the company. A graduate with a degree in electrical engineering, Rao is also the chairperson of Infosys BPO, the Business Outsourcing business of the IT giant.

As the COO of the Infosys, Rao handles the overall portfolio of the company. Experienced in sales, Rao is responsible for global sales, delivery and business enabling services. Rao was appointed as COO in June 2014. However, he was considered 'dark horse' when Narayana Murthy had named him as one of the presidents of the company in January 2014. As president, Rao was in charge of spurring growth in multiple portfolios of the company.

File image of Infosys' interim CEO and MD Pravin Rao. Image courtesy: Infosys

File image of Infosys' interim CEO and MD Pravin Rao. Image courtesy: Infosys

In 2015, Rao took home a package of Rs 6.4 crore, while in 2017, he was given a pay hike. The Infosys board had hiked Rao's fixed salary per annum to Rs 4.62 crore, while the variable component of his package was pegged at Rs 3.87 crore, payable on achievement of targets set by the board.

However, his 2017 payhike created a major controversy in the company, as Murthy said that the hike was improper and would "erode the trust and faith of the employees in the management and the board".

Nevertheless, the Infosys board decided to go ahead with the hike and said that the revision was arrived at after benchmarking against peers.

Defending the decision, Sikka had said: "Pravin's commitment and contribution to the company have been immense, and his partnership over the past about three years has been critical to the successes and growth of our company."

Along with Sikka and Rao, the Infosys’s board has nine independent directors. The independent directors are R Seshasayee, Ravi Venkatesan, DN Prahlad, Punita Kumar-Sinha, John Etchemendy, Jeffrey Lehman, Roopa Kudva, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw and D Sundaram.

One of the original employees of Infosys, Rao's fortunes rose after he was made a full-time director of the Infosys board in December 2013.

Prior to becoming a board member, Rao was a member of the executive council, with the position of a senior vice-president, handling the retail, consumer packaged goods, Logistics and Life Sciences portfolio of Infosys. He also headed the delivery services of the tech giant in Europe and had been the head of Infrastructure Management Services.

Rao is also the director of the Infosys Leadership Institute, which is responsible for identifying and training high-potential leaders for the company.

According to Business Standard, Rao is considered an example of Infosys' culture of creating home grown leaders. The report also quoted several colleagues as saying that it is his patience and perseverence which helped him to survive in the company.

A 2014 Economic Times report noted that Rao is a diligent worker and a great thinker, but not an ambitious man. "Rao is a guru in the setup. He is a person who can give you a strong direction. Nobody understands Infosys like he does," the report quoted a colleague as saying.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Aug 18, 2017 11:23:00 IST

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