Infosys executive chairman NR Narayana Murthy is likely to open up his search for an external candidate, if he is not able to pick an internal person for the role of chief operating officer or a similar function in the company. While top contenders for the role remain his trusted aides — board members V Balakrishnan, BG Srinivas and Ashok Vemuri, sources indicate Murthy could spring a surprise.
While sources said it was still early, Murthy may be willing to bring in an outsider just to bring in fresh perspectives and a new operational style. Infosys has announced that it is keen on improving the internal performance benchmarks, raise the connect level with the customers and chase large deals much more aggressively.
The position of the COO has been kept in the backburner since August 2011, the time SD Shibulal took over as the CEO of the company. Today, Murthy wants to bring back the role as he is burdened with a huge amount of responsibility as over a dozen business vertical heads report directly to him and a COO could lessen this workload. This could also help Murthy focus on larger issues like adapting to new technologies, staying relevant in rapidly changing business context while the COO takes over certain operational responsibilities.
However, sources said that even if Infosys were to bring in an external candidate for the role of COO it has to be someone who can blend in well with the ways of the IT major, considering the insular working style at the company. “It’s got to be some one who can blend in with Infosys culture,” said a source.
Among the internal contenders there is a new name — that of Stephen Pratt, the company’s senior vice-president and managing partner, worldwide consulting and system integration. The pedigree of Pratt, an American citizen, could help Infosys in refurbishing its image, especially in its largest market — US, which has been slightly dented around the H-1B visa issue.
Infosys, when contacted, said, “We do not comment on matters pertaining to our internal organisation.”
There are, however, industry observers who feel that it would be better for Murthy to choose somebody within Infosys for the role of COO, to ensure continuity in management.
The role of COO at Infosys has always been seen as a precursor to becoming the chief executive officer but