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Infosys Starts Hunt For Next Chairman

infosys_office_reutersIndia’s second largest software exporter Infosys has initiated the hunt for its next chairman, following KV Kamath’s appointment as chief of the $100 -billion New Development Bank of the BRICS countries that will require him to step down from his role as non-executive chairman of Infosys, two people aware of the discussions told ET.

Over the next few days, Infosys is expected to prepare shortlist of candidates who could go on to become the next chairman of the former bellwether and poster child of India’s $146 -billion information technology industry. In the meanwhile, Infosys may even appoint an interim chairman to oversee the transition process and current board members such as Ravi Venkatesan and R Seshayasee are currently being considered as potential interim candidates.

“KV (Kamath) will definitely step down from his position as chairman,” said one of the people “The next chairman could be decided by the end of the next board meeting.”

Infosys was yet to issue a statement on this matter. A company spokesperson did not respond to an email query.

The hunt for Kamath’s successor will mark one of the biggest leadership transitions in the history of the 34–year–old company and will usher in a new era in the top echelons of Infosys, which has undergone massive organizational overhauls over the past five years after it started lagging and conceding market share to top-tier rivals such as Tata Consultancy Services and US–based Cognizant Technology Solutions.

Apart from the existing board members being considered for the chairman’s role, Infosys could also bring a rank outsider. “Knowing Sikka (Vishal), he would like to have a very-high profile chairman, somebody considered a tech or business visionary,” another person added.

Kamath, who transformed ICICI Bank from an old–worldly, stodgy institution into a savvy next-generation bank by handpicking and grooming the next leaders, did not comment whether he will continue on the Infosys board. He replcaed Infosys’ iconic founder NR Narayana Murthy as the company’s next chairman in August 2011 and since then played a crucial role in succession planning at the company.

This included hiring Infosys’ first non-founder CEO, Vishal Sikka at the helm. “He (Kamath) is a great CEO. When I was on the board of ICICI, he made a presentation on his strategy to transform a Development Financing Institution to a Universal bank in 5 years and achieved it on time. This is a rare feat in India,” Murthy said in an email to ET reacting to Kamath’s appointment.

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