After two decades at India's second-largest information technology (IT) services company Infosys, U B Pravin Rao was recently elevated to chief operating officer. With the company battling challenges, Rao would be the go-to man for the first non-founding Chief Executive Vishal Sikka, to assume office on August 1. In an interaction with Itika Sharma Punit and Bibhu Ranjan Mishra, he spells out focus areas for Infosys. Excerpts:
Which areas does Infosys need to focus on immediately?
We have been open about the fact that growth is our primary concern. It is our aspiration that we need to get to industry-leading growth. We have to be competitive and get back to high growth. We have to get our solutions right, win more deals, be creative and be the first in coming up with differentiated services. So we have to do multiple things that way. Attrition is also a concern, but that is linked to growth, too.
What kind of reactions has the news of Vishal Sikka's appointment received?
Sikka as the CEO is a great choice that the company has made. He commands tremendous respect in the market. Many of our clients have proactively reached out to us and expressed confidence and happiness that Sikka has been selected. He is seen as a technology visionary, and in today's world where technology shifts are happening at a very rapid pace, having someone like Sikka will definitely be a tremendous advantage for Infosys. I am looking forward to working with him.
You must have interacted with Sikka on several occasions by now. What have your initial discussions been like?
Right now it is more of a transition period. He is trying to understand Infosys's business; who our customers are and what we do, etc. So we need to give him time to understand it all.
Do you think the employees of Infosys, which is traditionally known for having home-grown leaders, will accept Sikka as a CEO comfortably?
If you leave aside the position of CEO, Infosys has always had senior leaders coming from outside. We have been extremely open to bringing in outsiders in several senior positions. So I don't think acceptance is an issue as such.
You mentioned that there is a need for creativity at Infosys. Do you think the old hands at the company are ready for accepting the change?
I don't think that is really a concern because over the years technology has changed and people have evolved with it. Sikka is a visionary, but it's not like Infosys lacks the vision itself. We have made transitions through technology at various stages in time. But today, with the shift in technology happening in a much more dramatic way, having someone like Sikka at the helm will bring in some more interesting and outsider perspectives.
Do you think the company could see more senior-level exits after Sikka's joining?
I don't see any reason why anyone should not accept him. I don't think there would be any more exits.