Bangalore: Going for both change and continuity, the Infosys board on Saturday named K.V. Kamath, independent director on the board of Infosys and non-executive chairman of India’s second largest bank, ICICI Bank Ltd, as the chairman of the Board of Infosys Technologies Ltd, soon to be rechristened Infosys Ltd.
Current chairman N.R. Narayana Murthy said the nominations committee, headed by independent director Jeffrey Lehman, had also recommended, and the board accepted, to name current CEO Kris Gopalakrishnan as ‘executive co-chairman’.
Murthy said that Kris would be an “elder brother” to the management, promoting “customer, employee and investor connect.”
Current Chief Operating Officer (COO) S.D. Shibulal was named the next Chief Executive Officer, succeeding Kris Gopalakrishnan.
All the changes will be effected 21 August 2011, the day after Murthy retires attaining 65 years of age.
Kris said that while two years ago the board had decided to raise the chairman’s age of retirement to 70 years, all the founders had decided to opt out. Mr Kamath is currently 63 going on 64.
“I have known ‘Vaman’ (the V in K.V. Kamath’s name) for 40 years and Kris for 32 years,” Murthy said, praising Kamath’s capabilities for the job.
While he praised Kris for his “intellect” and being a “gentleman’s gentleman,” crediting him for taking the company from $ 3 billion in revenue to $ 6 billion and steering Infosys through the 2008-09 recession, he broke down in emotion while recalling how, in TCS, he had ordered Shibulal not to leave the office till he completed a certain project, and later discovered that Shibulal had stayed in the office for 48 hours, working in a lungi.
Nominations Committee Chair Jeffrey Lehman said that the appointment of Kamath was a true consensus view and described him as a man who could “see into the heart of issues and raise important and difficult questions.”
“Not only are all three of them excellent individuals, but the three of them are a superb team with great chemistry,” Lehman said.
The appointment reflected alignment with international practice, where board leadership is separated from management, he said.
The appointment of a co-chair was deemed necessary to ensure there was no loss of continuity and depth of internal knowledge, he said.
“The co-chair is not an abstract model for us. It is Kris,” he said, saying that the co-chair concept was not a permanent model, but could be.
Kamath said he was humbled by the appointment. “ I have been mentored by Murthy in many ways, quietly, over many years, and I have learned many lessons, key among them being the value of discipline, empowerment and recognition in obtaining consistent and replicable quality in an organization, and about how technology is a great leveler and can reach out to everyone.”
Kamath said that the board will announce the appointment of three additional executive directors in June, to be chosen from internal candidates.
Shibulal said that while Infosys 1.0 was about the Global Delivery Model, Infosys 2.0 was about integrated the GDM with consulting, industry vertical focus, and end to end services. Infosys 3.0 from now on will be about strategic partnership with clients, industry relevance, and evolving the business model.
Kris said that the change in name of the company, dropping the word technologies, reflected the change in their relationship with clients, where they were focusing on business solutions in their entirety, rather than on just technology implementation work.