The Board of Directors of Infosys Ltd., which met here on Saturday, decided to appoint K.V. Kamath as Chairman of Infosys after its founder, N.R. Narayana Murthy, steps down from his position as Chairman on August 20 when he turns 65.
The top leadership of the company addressed a crowded media conference and stressed that the company had opted for change, while seeking to maintain a degree of continuity.
The board also decided to appoint the company’s Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director S. Gopalakrishnan as co-Chairman of the board. Chief Operating Officer S.D. Shibulal will take over Mr. Gopalakrishnan’s duties. All the appointments are to take effect from August 21. Mr. Murthy has been appointed Chairman Emeritus.
Jeffrey Lehman, chairperson of the three-member Nominations Committee, which included Mr. Kamath, said the appointments indicated Infosys’ resolve to “maintain continuity with change”. “The decision to appoint Mr. Kamath was unanimous,” he said. Mr. Kamath “recused himself” from the selection process as soon as it became apparent that he was in the running for the post of Chairman, Prof. Lehman added.
Prof. Lehman said the committee’s primary responsibility was to help Infosys make the transition from “the Murthy era” to a “post-founder era”. “The transition would be such that Infosys would not miss a beat after August 20,” he remarked.
He said the appointment of Mr. Gopalakrishnan as co-Chairman reflected the desire to maintain continuity at the top of the company. Prof. Lehman described Mr. Murthy as “an iconic figure” who had steered the company through three decades. He said the company would consider the appointment of a Chief Operating Officer “later, at an appropriate time”.
Mr. Murthy described Mr. Kamath, who is currently non-executive Chairman of ICICI Bank, as “an extraordinary leader”.
Mr. Kamath, he pointed out, had steered ICICI from being a development finance institution into a universal bank. Mr. Murthy said Mr. Gopalakrishnan’s stature as “an elder brother figure” in the company would help it maintain its “strategic vision”.
Asked if Infosys could face challenges without his guidance, Mr. Murthy said Infosys had managed “tougher challenges in the past, when the country was much more business unfriendly”. “We managed despite being much smaller with limited resources,” he added.
Mr. Kamath announced that three new members would be inducted to the board before the company’s Annual General Meeting in June. Infosys announced on April 15 that T.V. Mohandas Pai, Head (Human Resource Development and Education and Research), and company co-founder K. Dinesh, Head (Quality, Information Systems and the Communications Design Group) would be stepping down.
Describing Infosys as “a shining star of emerging India”, Mr. Kamath said he was honoured to accept the position with humility. “It is not possible for me to take Murthy’s position; after all, he has quietly mentored me for the last 15 years,” he remarked.
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