Egon Zehnder Lands CEO for Infosys

Infosys appointed Salil S. Parekh managing director CEO

December 12, 2017 – India-based IT company Infosys has appointed former Capgemini executive Salil S. Parekh as managing director and CEO. The company enlisted Egon Zehnder to work with its nominations and remunerations committee to find its next leader. He replaces Vishal Sikka, who abruptly resigned in August. Mr. Sikka was the first outsider in the company’s history to hold the top leadership post.

It was Egon Zehnder, in fact, which recruited Mr. Sikka into Infosys. During that search, three years ago, Infosys asked the recruitment firm to prepare a list of external candidates while the company used Development Dimensions International to screen internal candidates.

Heidrick & Struggles International and Korn Ferry also sought the latest assignment, reaching out to Infosys’s co-chairman Ravi Venkatesan regarding the search, according to reports, but Egon Zehnder prevailed.

The Search

Infosys looked at internal candidates, external candidates and Infosys alumni. They sought “someone who can manage a large corporation, someone who should be able to execute strategy, have a strong appreciation of the cultural transformation being undertaken, have a strong technology prowess and who is able to build and strengthen with all stakeholders,” said Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani.

“We are delighted to have Salil joining as the CEO & MD of Infosys,” Mr. Nilekani said. “He has nearly three decades of global experience in the IT services industry. He has a strong track record of executing business turnarounds and managing very successful acquisitions. The board believes that he is the right person to lead Infosys at this transformative time in our industry.”

Mr. Parekh joined Capgemini when the firm acquired the consulting arm of EY in 2000. He grew through the ranks to become chairman of Capgemini India. In 2015, he took up a global role as deputy CEO and member of the board at Capgemini.

Infosys is a global leader in technology services and consulting. It helps clients in 45 countries to create and execute strategies for their digital transformation.

CEO Recruiting

For boards, the task of selecting a new CEO is fraught with more risk and uncertainty than ever. It is no longer a matter of simply choosing a successor based on past performance or current readiness, said Egon Zehnder. The decision is a complex study in forecasting the future, assessing possibilities and mitigating risk.

Egon Zehnder’s global CEO practice works closely with boards to identify, develop and appoint CEOs equipped to meet the challenges and define the opportunities organizations face, both today and down the road. Over the last five years, the firm has led more than 1,000 CEO placements making it one of the preeminent leaders in C-suite recruitment. The firm’s CEO practice is comprised of 100 senior consultants from across the globe, with cross-sector expertise that includes business and industry, government and the non-profit sectors.

As CEO Turnover Rises, Outsiders Are Given a Closer Look
Last year, 17 percent of the largest 2,500 public companies in the world changed their CEO, more than in any of the previous 16 years of the “CEO Success Study” from Strategy&, PwC’s strategy consulting business.

Bringing In Outsiders

While an internal CEO candidate may have an excellent record of achieving the business goals a company has pursued in the past, boards recognize that insiders might lack the skills needed to lead and see through the changes necessary for the future.

In an online poll, “Insiders vs. Outsiders: Which Candidate Type Fits Best and When,” Hunt Scanlon Media found that promoting from within remains a preferred way for organizations to address their leadership needs. But when executive recruiters are brought in to openly recruit for vacant positions, they are often given mandates to look wide and deep for candidates, which typically results in the search shifting to a hunt for outsiders.

Egon Zehnder has landed outside candidates for major clients in recent months as well. The firm recently recruited Brian Duperreault as the new CEO for American International Group (AIG). Analysts said it was important for the new CEO to have a firm grasp on AIG’s troubles in property and casualty insurance, which have weighed heavily on its results. Mr. Duperreault previously served as CEO of Hamilton Insurance Group, a Bermuda-based holding company.

Earlier this year, Egon Zehnder placed former IDFC CEO Vikram Limaye as managing director and CEO of the National Stock Exchange of India (NSE). The placement came just two months after the sudden exit of Chitra Ramkrishna from the top post. The appointment of NSE’s chief was seen as critical as it came ahead of an IPO.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Will Schatz, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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