Home / Companies / People /  Roshni Nadar takes charge at HCL Technologies

Roshni Nadar Malhotra, the only child of billionaire industrialist Shiv Nadar, has been named chairperson of HCL Technologies Ltd, India’s third largest information technology (IT) services firm, as part of a succession plan.

Nadar Malhotra, 38, a non-executive director and vice-chairman of HCL Technologies, has taken over as chairperson from 17 July, as her 75-year-old father stepped down from the position. She will now become the first woman to head an Indian publicly traded software firm.

Nadar, who set up the company in 1976, continues to be the managing director with the designation of chief strategy officer of HCL Technologies.

Peers and analysts said Nadar Malhotra, who has so far focused on the Shiv Nadar Foundation and worked in the shadow of her illustrious father, will come into her own with this step and infuse fresh energy into the more than four-decade-old company.

“Shiv Nadar is an institution in himself, one of the key architects of the technology and innovation ecosystem of our country. His intellect and passion have created a $10-billion legacy, which I am certain now under its new leader will reach greater heights. Roshni is a worthy successor and I look forward to seeing her lead the company with purpose, conviction and pride," said C.P. Gurnani, managing director and chief executive officer (CEO) of Tech Mahindra.

This is part of the succession planning at the IT firm and there will be no change in strategy, C. Vijayakumar, president and CEO, HCL Tech, said in a post-earnings call on Friday.

HCL Tech, HCL Infosystems and HCL Healthcare are part of the $9.9 billion HCL Corp. Nadar Malhotra was appointed CEO and executive director of HCL Corp. in 2013 and offered strategic guidance to the organization.

She was ranked 54th on the Forbes list of the world’s 100 most powerful women in 2019 and is the richest woman in India, according to IIFL Wealth Hurun India Rich List of 2019.

Like her philanthropic father, she is deeply involved in social work as a trustee of the Shiv Nadar Foundation. Purpose, passion and pride define Nadar Malhotra, said Vineet Nayar, a former CEO of HCL Tech and founder chairman, Sampark Foundation.

“She decided to pursue her passion for social change and philanthropy by investing her time and resources in VidyaGyan," he said, referring to the leadership academy for bright and needy students in rural Uttar Pradesh. She also co-founded The Habitats Trust in 2018, along with her husband Shikhar Malhotra.

Analysts pointed out that Nadar Malhotra’s appointment is set to bring more diversity to IT sector leadership. Just as Wipro Ltd chairman Rishad Premji leads a lot of the policy dialogue across industry and government engagements, Nadar Malhotra, too, will be increasingly seen on such platforms, they said.

“Roshni has immense pride for the HCL brand and wears it on her sleeve. She has a sharp mind that can navigate through uncertain times. As chairperson, her role is critical. She will be responsible for setting the long-term strategy of the company, make sure that the value system Shiv stood for is protected, keep the board alive and alert and protect all the stakeholders. She will be like a compass who will let the CEO know where the True North is," Nayar added.

What impresses Nayar most is the fact that Malhotra is among the few leaders who put purpose ahead of profits. “She has spent a decade chasing a purpose (VidyaGyan)," he said.

“He (Nadar) has always been bold, a strategic risk-taker with extraordinary entrepreneurial drive. The way he evolved a hardware business into a global software giant is a case study in itself. Of course, he is going to stay around in a different role now but after decades of building a strong professionally managed firm he is clearly preparing a succession plan for Roshni to fully take over the reins," said Atul Nishar, founder and chairman, Hexaware Technologies.

“I believe HCL Tech will continue to be led professionally as it has always been and clearly he will still be around to guide the organization," Nishar added.

“Roshni’s appointment means new blood and new energy in the company. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for HCL to redefine itself by catapulting into new businesses," said Sanchit Vir Gogia, chief analyst and CEO, Greyhound Research.

She has an undergraduate degree in radio, television and film from Northwestern University in the US, and later pursued post-graduation in business administration from the Kellogg School of Management.

A trained classical dancer, she is married to Shikhar Malhotra, vice chairman of HCL Healthcare. The couple has two sons, Armaan and Jahaan.

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