What Infosys dispute reveals? Indian companies still struggle with succession planning
Generally, problems emerge when a non-promoter takes charge of the top job, as was the case with Vishal Sikka at Infosys
New Delhi: Leadership pipeline is critical for blue-chip corporates to evolve into institutions that outlive their founders, feel HR experts, as the sudden exit of Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka raises questions over succession planning at India Inc.
While succession planning as a concept does exist in India, experts are of the opinion that some large corporations seem to be "struggling" when it comes to putting their act together.
Sikka's resignation from IT major Infosys is the second high profile exit of an 'outsider' from a big corporate after Cyrus Mistry was removed as chairman of Tata Sons in November last year.
According to experts, few companies in sectors like banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) are at par with organisations globally when it comes to succession planning.
"Building a deep leadership pipeline is a priority for any progressive and growth driven organisation as it is a critical element towards building a lasting institution which outlives its founders," staffing services firm TeamLease Services Co-Founder and Executive Vice President Rituparna Chakraborty told PTI.
Experts also opined that it is generally seen that problems emerge when a non-promoter takes charge of the top job, as happened in the case of Sikka.
"That's clearly emerging as an issue here and in the long run we need to watch out for same... it is important for promoters to clearly define their roles as executives, board members and that of a shareholder. If the transition between each roles is either too sudden or too late, it is likely to affect the future sustainability and growth of the organisation," Chakraborty said.
Experts noted that Indian companies' succession planning rates poorly as against their global peers, who often start months in advance to find a proper replacement.
"It is absolutely necessary for corporates to adopt succession planning; having said that it does exist in India although many of the new large corporates may seem to be struggling," said Joseph Devasia, India Managing Director of global executive recruitment firm Antal International.
Moreover, vis-a-vis their global peers, Indian bluechip companies' succession planning is "pretty non-existent", he noted.
While succession planning at corporates has always been a matter of discussion, the issue is again at the fore following the abrupt stepping down of Sikka on Friday amid acrimony between the board and founders of Infosys.
"It has been seen in the past that the COO has been promoted to CEO in cases of retirement or a transit from existing role to another organisation. The people at the CXO's level have been identified doing secondment job in absence of CEO and they have also been promoted," said Sunil Goel, managing director of leading executive search firm GlobalHunt.
However, he noted it is important that the person selected to lead the firm should be accepted across the organisation, by most of the board members and peer groups.
About the developments at Infosys, Suman Jyoti Khaitan, senior advocate at the Supreme Court, said it has been distressing to witness the differences publicly aired by the founders and promoters and the eminent persons in management of a great organisation.
"Such cold war is certainly to be avoided in the larger interest of the company, its shareholders and the Indian economy and reputation of Indian industry," he added.
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