October 3, 2023

The Vishal Sikka story - Is India no country for 'outsider' CEOs?

The Vishal Sikka story - Is India no country for 'outsider' CEOs?
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Vishal Sikka's resignation as Infosys' CEO & MD may have come as a surprise move, but not really an unexpected one if you think about it. Consider the reason, in his own words - "a drumbeat of distractions." In theory, Infosys was on the right path with the forward thinking Sikka at its helm. What he needed was their unsolicited backing and support to carry out the kind of disruptive changes they needed, but instead, he was blocked at every turn and got stuck in between an ongoing conflict between Infosys' board and its founders. The numerous controversies and malicious attacks from the very people who were expected to have his back just exacerbated the situation.

Looks like a classic case of a founder's dilemma and the inability to let go. Narayana Murthy has put his ego ahead of the company's interests, and it does not bode well for the future of the Indian IT giant. Instead of forging the way ahead, Infosys will flounder and, even worse, stop others from even venturing to attempt radical changes. This incidence just reflects poorly on the Indian management style, culture and will impede the ability for the other to attract strong leaders in the times to come. A huge blow and a watershed moment in the IT services industry indeed, as leaders with Sikka's skills set are far and few in between.

It'll be interesting to see where Infosys can go from this point. After all, Sikka has left big shoes to fill for his successor.

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