MindTree, a mid-sized information technology services company, is to focus on corporate governance, leadership grooming and repositioning of its brand, as it prepares for the ‘second phase’ of its journey, 13 years after inception.
Based in this city, the company has hired three globally reputed agencies and firms — Egon Zehnder, for improving corporate governance; Siegel & Gale, for refurbishing the brand; and Korn Ferry, for career assessment and leadership grooming. “Phase one of our journey, in the first 13 years, was a period of great transition, essentially from a culture-led company to become an expertise-led one. If you look at the next eight years, we have to up the game,” Subroto Bagchi, the newly appointed chairman, told Business Standard.
In April last year, MindTree saw one of its 10 co-founders leave, Ashok Soota. Bagchi says the company’s vision will be to make sure it is not dependant on the founders. “When we talk about core leaders, it goes beyond the founders. Our challenge and our job will be to make sure it is not a founder-dependent company. We did the right thing in the beginning, when we said our family members cannot work in this company. Now, we have to build a pool of leadership that is not linked to the founders,” he said.
The next level
To make this happen, MindTree has engaged with Korn Ferry, the largest executive recruiting company in the world. It has completed leadership assessments of the top 100 people, with Korn Ferry. The company hopes its engagement with the latter would help in “creating a very strong leadership funnel; people who think differently, to take the organisation to the next level,” said K K Natarajan, managing director and CEO. Bagchi, till recently donning the roles of vice-chairman and ‘gardener’, still prioritises leadership grooming as one of his major roles.
The idea is to ensure future leadership selection allows a level field for all — founders, non-founders and people from outside. MindTree has constituted a nomination committee under the chairmanship of its independent director, Albert Hieronimus. V G Siddhartha and Bagchi are the other members of the committee. “The nomination committee is not a decisive committee. And, the whole perspective was that the board should not have to inherit CEOs. So, then, it becomes a completely level, transparent field,” said Bagchi.
The service of Egon Zehnder was sought around the time Soota exited last year. EZ has a database of 2,500 boards over the world. “We engaged with Egon Zehnder to articulate the function of the board and segregation of the roles between the chairman and the CEO,” said Natarajan.
Known as the fastest growing among IT services companies in India, MindTree’s growth in the past two years somehow slowed due to a couple of bad decisions, and because of the impact of the global economic crisis. When it was trying to come out of the shock of its failure to monetise one of its acquisitions, Soota said he was leaving. When analysts and the industry were becoming sceptical about the state of the affairs in the company, MindTree rebounded with strong financials during the past couple of quarters.
In the second phase, says Natarajan, the focus would be to position the brand as an expertise-driven company. “We clearly need a brand which will convey how MindTree is expertise-led and culture-backed. This shows the maturity of the company, which has moved to a phase when it is able to even compete with the likes of Accentures and IBM (in the case of bagging the Aadhaar project),” he says.
Siegel & Gale, one of the top three branding companies in the world, has worked with leading technology brands such as Dell, SAP, Microsoft and Motorola.