Infosys, Wipro are IT bluechips. But top executives are quitting in droves

Many of these departures could also be attributed to slowing growth at both large companies. (HT)
Many of these departures could also be attributed to slowing growth at both large companies. (HT)

Summary

  • About two dozen executives at the rank of senior vice-president (SVP) and above left Infosys and Wipro during the the tenures of chief executives Salil Parekh and Thierry Delaporte.

BENGALURU :  

Infosys Ltd and Wipro Ltd have each seen about two dozen executives at the rank of senior vice-president (SVP) and above leave under the tenures of chief executives Salil Parekh and Thierry Delaporte, respectively, underscoring the challenge of retaining senior leaders at the Bengaluru-based IT twins.

Since Parekh took over as Infosys boss in January 2018, 22 executives at the rank of SVP and above have left, according to a review of the annual reports and press releases by Mint. The country’s second-largest technology services firm gave Parekh, whose first five-year term was to run until January 2023, a second term in May last year; his current tenure runs from 1 July 2022 to 31 March 2027.

 

Infosys’s board may have believed that an early extension to Parekh could usher in stability. But over the past 18 months, at least 11 executives have left, which is the same number of senior management departures witnessed under Parekh’s four-and-a-half years as CEO between 1 January 2018 and 30 June 2022.

Things are no better at Infosys’ cross-city rival Wipro, where 22 SVPs have moved out in the past three-and-a-half years since the company entrusted Delaporte with the CEO role in July 2020.

 

“Both Infosys and Wipro are facing a challenge retaining senior leaders," said the head of a global executive search firm, which works with the largest technology services firms. “A host of factors explains this, although Infosys has a better leadership bench."

Queries sent to Infosys and Wipro were unanswered till press time.

 

What explains the two firms battling a leadership challenge under Parekh and Delaporte, both formerly with French IT services giant Capgemini SE?

Two executive search firm partners and two analysts ascribe three primary reasons.

First, some leaders left to take up top jobs at other IT firms. Mohit Joshi, who served at Infosys for more than two decades, resigned as president in March 2023, to join as CEO-designate at Tech Mahindra Ltd. Joshi, 49, started his term as CEO on 20 December after C.P. Gurnani retired at 65.

 

Ditto for S. Ravi Kumar, a former president at Infosys, who moved out in October last year. Kumar, 49, took over as CEO of Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. in January after its board sacked Brian Humphries.

Angan Guha, who joined Wipro in January 1994 and oversaw a third of its business as CEO of its Americas business, left in October 2022. He joined as CEO of Birlasoft Ltd, the Pune-headquartered mid-tier IT services firm in December last year.

“Pent-up demand to be CEO among senior executives nearing 50 years of age and not getting the post is what is causing the exodus among top-tier executives," said a Mumbai-based partner at an executive search firm. The executive did not want to be named as his firm counts both Infosys and Wipro as clients.

A second reason could be some of the CEOs of IT services firms and who were formerly with Infosys and Wipro, tapping into the talent pool of these companies.

Former executive vice-president at Infosys Narasimha Rao Mannepalli and senior consulting partner at the Bengaluru-based IT company Shveta Arora are expected to join Cognizant in the coming months.

“Newly appointed CEOs in these IT companies will take people from their previous company to work under them because they know these people better," said the executive search firm cited above.

At Wipro, Delaporte faced another set of issues. He wanted to hire new talent to orchestrate change within the company. More than half of the 750 top executives ranked general manager (GM) and above are no longer with the company. Executive departures could be possibly linked to the overall growth of the company.

Finally, many of these departures could also be attributed to slowing growth at both large companies.

Four senior leaders left Infosys last year when the company reported an 11.65% dollar revenue growth. However, in the current fiscal year, seven SVPs have moved out even as the company expects revenue growth in constant currency terms to be between 1% and 2.5% in the year ended March 2024.

Wipro saw four SVP departures in the April-March 2022 period when the company posted an industry-leading 27.3% dollar revenue growth. Last year, seven SVPs left the company, while the revenue growth slowed to 7.8%.

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