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.
“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: