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Infosys to face high scrutiny, that can be unsettling: Rao's email to staff

We will continue to execute on the strategy that we have laid out for ourselves, Rao said

Ayan Pramanik  |  New Delhi 

Newly appointed interim Infosys CEO U B Pravin Rao in Bengaluru on Friday. Photo: PTI
Newly appointed interim Infosys CEO U B Pravin Rao in Bengaluru on Friday. Photo: PTI

U B Pravin Rao, the interim chief executive and managing director of Infosys Technologies has warned the company's employees of tougher days ahead due to an increased scrutiny of the company due to the ongoing public spat between co-founder N R Narayana Murthy and the board. Rao told employees that this should not deter the firm from bouncing back.

“This won’t always be easy in the days ahead. Not with the intense attention on us. This can be unsettling. But only if we let it. And that we must not,” wrote Rao to employees on Monday.

“If you think about it, this is not the first time Infosys has been up against a tough challenge. Rough economic conditions, near-impossible projects, leadership exits, public debates about our future, we have seen it all. And there hasn’t been a single occasion – not even one – from which we did not emerge stronger, wiser and most importantly still together as one team Infosys,” he wrote.

Rao, a lifer at Infosys since he was hired by Murthy, was made the chief operating officer when Vishal Sikka was appointed as CEO three years ago. In the last three years, he has been the operations man for Sikka, even as the former SAP executive brought his own team that worked with both leaders.

So when Sikka, who blamed Murthy’s constant attack over governance issues, resigned as CEO last Friday, Rao was the natural choice to replace him in the interim. Infosys is likely to begin a global hunt to scout for a leader who can join the company as CEO, which would mean Rao could potentially get back to his old role in the next six months.

ALSO READ: Pravin Rao, team need to check attrition at Infosys, say analysts

Rao, in his letter, appealed to employees to stay on course, focusing on execution and expand the services that the company has built over the past few years.

“We can do it again and we will. Helping each other, when it is needed, to stay focused on what matters – our commitments, our clients, our vision of who we really are,”  he wrote.

Rao has taken over as the interim CEO at a time when the battle between Murthy and the Infosys board is escalating. On Wednesday, Murthy will engage with institutional investors, hoping to explain his stand on why Infosys has failed in corporate governance, if unchecked, is expected to  hurt the company in the long run

In April, Murthy has criticised Rao for taking a 70 per cent hike, pointing that most of the junior employees were seeing their salary increase by six to eight per cent.

“The impact of such a decision will likely erode the trust and faith of the employees in the management and the board. With what conscience can a decent person like Pravin (a man schooled in Infosys values for over 30 years) tell his juniors that they should work hard and make sacrifice to reduce cost and protect margin?” Murthy had written a note to Rao in April.

Despite this Rao went ahead with the new compensation.

“Having learned so much, having done so much, having come so far, we can clearly see the road ahead lies long and winding but leads to greatness. I want for us to stay the course. I know you want it too, for yourself and for your Infosys. That’s why I know I can rely on your continued support. And you, in turn, can rely on your leadership, and on my personal support,” wrote Rao in his first mail in the interim role.

He also urged employees to stay together to bring back focus on the business. “Days we’ll soon look back to as a time when all of Infosys came together in unwavering faith, resolute perseverance, and unflinching focus.”

Here is full text of Rao's letter: 
Dear Infoscion,

On Friday, we all heard from Vishal about his decision to move on from Infosys. While we respect his decision, we will miss him and wish him only the very best for the future. He will stay on board as Executive Vice Chairman, till March 2018, to help me make a smooth transition. Despite these changes, Infosys will stay on course.

We will continue to execute on the strategy that we have laid out for ourselves. We have already seen how our new services are gaining traction. And how our embrace of automation is helping us become more productive in the work that we do, and how it is creating more and more opportunity for us to focus our energies towards innovation - both for ourselves and our clients.

In fact, you have achieved so much over the past several quarters. Strengthened by movements like Zero Distance, you have begun an exciting journey of innovation relying on your creative confidence. You must continue the incredible work. We must all continue the work we do to create the value our clients are counting on us to deliver. It is the huge responsibility we carry. That’s why there can be no disruptions to the work we set out to do every day. As has always been, the foundation for this will continue to be our culture, our values – especially our ability to learn, and do more – much more to create real value - than simply execute the jobs we are handed.

This won’t always be easy in the days ahead. Not with the intense attention on us. This can be unsettling. But only if we let it. And that we must not. If you think about it, this is not the first time Infosys has been up against a tough challenge. Rough economic conditions, near-impossible projects, leadership exits, public debates about our future, we have seen it all. And there hasn’t been a single occasion – not even one – from which we did not emerge stronger, wiser and most importantly still together as one team Infosys.

We can do it again and we will. Helping each other, when it is needed, to stay focused on what matters – our commitments, our clients, our vision of who we really are.

Having learned so much, having done so much, having come so far, we can clearly see the road ahead lies long and winding but leads to greatness. I want for us to stay the course. I know you want it too, for yourself and for your Infosys. That’s why I know I can rely on your continued support. And you in turn can rely on your leadership, and on my personal support.

I will share as much as I can in the days to follow. Days we’ll soon look back to as a time when all of Infosys came together in unwavering faith, resolute perseverance, and unflinching focus.  

In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to write in to me by clicking here and posting any questions or thoughts that you may have. Let’s stay in touch. 

Regards,
Pravin Rao
Interim CEO & MD

First Published: Wed, August 23 2017. 01:49 IST