Fed Up Of Personal Attacks, Wounded Vishal Sikka Quits as Infosys MD

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Vishal Sikka

After being cornered and verbally punched by the Infosys founders, Vishal Sikka has resigned.

Vishal Sikka

In a not-so-surprising move, Vishal Sikka today resigned as managing director and chief executive officer of Infosys with “immediate effect.”

Minutes after he resigned, he posted his resignation letter on his verified Twitter handle. And Infosys was quick to respond confirming Sikka’s resignation. The swiftness almost indicated that a `headache’ of the Infosys founders had gone.

Infosys said U B Pravin Rao has been given the interim responsibility for both the posts and that Sikka has been appointed as executive vice-chairman.

The reasons for Sikka’s resignation were clear in his letter. He said “a continuous stream of distractions and disruptions” in recent months, had affected his professional functioning.

He said he had also, of late, had to face unrelenting, baseless/malicious and increasingly personal attacks.

Narayana Murthy
Infosys Founder N R Narayana Murthy

So, who was attacking him verbally, distracting him and who was behind the baseless, malicious and increasingly personal attacks? No prizes of guessing. He was obviously pointing a figure at founder N R Narayana Murthy and the other founders who are all NRN’s men.

In fact, Infosys board, in a statement said the obvious: that co-founder Narayana Murthy’s “continuous assault and misguided campaigns” had led to Sikka’s resignation. Recently, Murthy had issued a threat. He had demanded that the Board adopt certain changes in policy failing which he will attack board members in public.

And Sikka hit back by putting in his papers. “It is clear to me that despite our successes over the last three years, and the powerful seeds of innovation that we have sown, I cannot carry out my job as CEO and continue to create value, while also constantly defending against unrelenting, baseless/malicious and increasingly personal attacks,” he said in his resignation letter without naming Narayana Murthy who had spearheaded the attack on Sikka.

He said he wanted to get away from all the noise and distractions.

He added that he decided to leave “because the distractions, the very public noise around us, have created an untenable atmosphere”.

Sikka

Sikka threw ample hints that the South Indian based founders were either reluctant or slow to respond to changes. While bringing about changes, he found strong headwinds that impeded his speed to change Infosys and align it with current day needs.

“Transformations are hard to begin with. A massive transformation, of such an iconic institution, with such groundbreaking achievements behind her, would be even tougher, and the exponential rates of change all around us, further amplified by geopolitical matters, would add that much more headwind. For sure this journey has been a difficult one. No one, especially me, thought it would be easy,” he said in his letter where he cleverly masqueraded his punches.

It may be recalled that Infosys has been battling internal and external challenges in terms of uncertain global economic environment and high-profile founders throwing charges and constantly flagging concerns around alleged corporate governance lapses in the company.

In the last few months, Infosys has seen a number of senior-level executives resigning. They include Anirban Dey (Global head and chief business officer of Edge products), Yusuf Bashir (MD, Infosys Innovation Fund) and Ritika Suri (executive vice-president).

Sikka had dismissed all this stating that there was no pattern to it. He had dismissed views suggesting senior-level exits in Infosys were a cause of concern, saying the attrition is “far lower” than other firms.

“It happens in every company. We actually did an analysis, both in terms of our own past as well as in terms of the other companies in our industry. And there are far more executives who have left every other company that we could think of,” Sikka had said during a recent TV interview.

In his resignation letter, he assured that he will work closely with Pravin serving as interim MD & CEO, and “I will work closely with the Board and management team over the next few months to ensure a smooth transition. In addition, I have agreed to serve as Executive Vice Chairman on the Board to further ensure continuity until the new management is in place,” he said.

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