Vishal Sikka on Friday resigned as the managing director and CEO of IT major Infosys. The company’s board has accepted the resignation and given the intermi charge to chief operating officer UB Pravin Rao while Sikka has been made the Executive Vice-Chairman. The announcement was followed by a drop of over 7% in value of Infosys shares.
Citing “continuous distractions and disruptions” as the reason behind his decision, Sikka, in his resignation letter, stated that the “very public noise around us” had created an “untenable atmosphere” that prevented the management from functioning effectively.
Referring to increasingly personal attacks against him, he said, “I cannot carry out my job as CEO and continue to create value, while also constantly defending against unrelenting, baseless/malicious and increasingly personal attacks.”
He also alleged that people who should have supported hims rather ‘amplified’ the situation. “I spent hundreds of hours tackling the drumbeat of distraction,”
“I now need to move forward, and return to an environment of respect, trust and empowerment, where I can take on new lofty challenges, as can each of you,” he added.
— Vishal Sikka (@vsikka) August 18, 2017
The company leadership , in recent months, faced criticism from the founders of Infosys (Narayana Murthy, Kris Gopalakrishnan S D Shibulal) who have raised issues of corporate governance. Murthy, in an email to advisors, quoted three independent directors of the company as saying that Sikka was not “CEO material”, but more suited to be the chief technology officer.
Here is the complete text of the resignation letter that Sikka shared on his blog
Dear Board Colleagues,
Over the last few days, since our earlier call, I’ve met Sesh several times, talked to you individually at length, and spent time thinking things thru with Vandana. During this time, one of our employees, Sandeep Karamongikar, died in his sleep, likely of a massive heart attack. He was working on the chatbot frontend in Nia. Also over the weekend, in possibly the greatest demonstration of AI capability ever, a bot built by the researchers at OpenAI (yes, that OpenAI), defeated the world’s best players of DOTA2, a multiplayer online video game, a game where the bot learned to play entirely from scratch. Further demonstrating that the force to automate routine, even advanced, activities is an unstoppable and exponential one. And the Charlottesville incident here in the US demonstrated once again the power of words and silences to cause real damage, or to heal.
After much reflection, I have concluded that it is indeed time for me to leave my current positions as MD and CEO, and I have communicated my resignation to Sesh.
I will be working closely with Sesh, Ravi, Pravin, with all of you, and the senior management team to plan out the details and the timelines to ensure a smooth transition and in the meantime, continue our work without disruption, and ensuring that we protect our company, the employees, the clients, and the interests of every shareholder. You can count on my commitment to this.
I came here to help navigate the company through what I saw as a massive transformation opportunity, to transform our company and restore strong profitable growth, as well as help transform the business of our customers. I came to do this with the power of technology, given my experiences with similar transformations, my background in AI, and the structural changes that I saw happening in the IT services industry. This needed new skills, new thinking, new initiatives, and a transformation in the culture, from a cost-oriented value delivery, to entrepreneurship oriented value delivery. You have heard me articulate this many times before.
This type of a transformation has always been a passion for me, indeed I took this job for this reason. We have achieved much in the last 3+ years, and for sure we can all be proud of the powerful seeds of transformation that have already been sowed. No one anticipated the additional headwinds like the geo-political disruptions (Brexit, Trump, visa etc.) that made this transformation even more challenging, but also rewarding. But, the distractions that we have seen, the constant drumbeat of the same issues over and over again, while ignoring and undermining the good work that has been done, take the excitement and passion out of this amazing journey. Over the last many months and quarters, we have all been besieged by false, baseless, malicious and increasingly personal attacks. Allegations that have been repeatedly proven false and baseless by multiple, independent investigations. But despite this, the attacks continue, and worse still, amplified by the very people from whom we all expected the most steadfast support in this great transformation. This continuous drumbeat of distractions and negativity over the last several months/quarters, inhibits our ability to make positive change and stay focused on value creation. Addressing the noise by itself is damaging; hundreds of hours of my own time has gone into this recently. But the structural challenges this engenders within the organization, has a very damaging effect on our ability to carry out any kind of a transformation, especially one that is as fundamental as transforming from a cost-oriented to an innovationoriented value delivery to clients.
Therefore, I have come to this moment and the end of this journey. I hope that it gives everyone a chance to reflect, and give the transformation effort another big push and move the company forward rapidly to build its future, to build upon the foundation that we have laid over these past 3 years. If these types of attacks continue, I hope each of you will continue to be the voice of fairness and reason – providing the active, emphatic and unequivocal support that the company, the management, the employees, and all of the stakeholders and friends of the company need in order to succeed. Since the board deeply believes in the cause we have started, I will be happy to support all of you to achieve a smooth transition, and serve as your Executive Vice Chair as discussed.
I would like to thank each one of you, my dear colleagues, my friends and mentors, and look forward to working with you to close this chapter and open a great new one for all of us.
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