Infosys turns to Nandan Nilekani, what makes him Mr Suitable?
At a time when Infosys is caught in a three-way battle between investors, founders and board members, all eyes are on Nandan Nilekani. With reports hinting at his possible return to the IT giant, colleagues have spoken about why Nandan Nilekani may be the one man that Infosys now needs.
Vishal Sikka's resignation sent Infosys stocks plunging for days worrying investors. A buzz about Nilekani's return on Wednesday lifted spirits with Infosys share price gaining. On Thursday Infosys stocks were trading at Rs 910 as against Monday's closing of Rs 866.
The very buzz of Nilekani's return boosted investor confidence and Infosys is currently in need of a confidence-inducing leader at the helm of affair. Morale of employees, investors, board members, founders and outsiders has taken a beating not just due to Sikka's resignation but the ugly spate that followed with board members publicly blaming Narayan Murthy for Sikka's resignation.
Nandan Nilekani, now 62, co-founded the company when he was just 26. After being CEO for five years, Nilekani stepped aside in 2007. Under his leadership, the company grew leaps and bounds and almost caught up with Tata Consultancy Services Ltd in terms of revenue. His vision for the company was different from Narayana Murthy but worked wonders. When he left, he left the company in better shape than what he had received.
Nilekani is a good face: Former colleagues
Investors believe that Nilekani can stabilise the company and hold talks with founders and board members. His negotiating skills, acumen for problem-solving and most importantly, the credibility that comes with being Nandan Nilekani had made investors believe that he can salvage the situation. Nilekani after severing ties with Infosys has never looked back. In 2013, when Narayana Murthy returned to the company and asked Nilekani to come back, he refused. Nilekani was then working on his political career which was not as successful as other roles he has taken on in life.
His ease of crossing over from corporate to policy making to electoral politics and now investments in start-ups has added ot his credentials. Moreover, colleagues like former CFO V Balakrishnan have welcomed the possibility of Nilekani's return to the company.
"He is a good face to lead the organisation given the current scenario. I personally think if at all he comes back, he should come in as the chairman and try to identify a good CEO. The board should consider getting Nandan Nilekani at the helm," he said. He also deemed it necessary for chairman R Seshasayee and co-chairman Ravi Venkatesan to step down.
In the current scenario, Infosys needs a familiar face to boost investor confidence, tactful leader to bring about a consensus between founders and board and a global icon who can salvage the situation. Nandan Nilekani may just fit the bill. With the company not too keen on bringing in a CEO from outside after their first tryst with 'outsider Sikka' ended badly, the need of the hour is to bring the company back on track.