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iGate names former Infosys board member Ashok Vemuri as CEO

Vemuri replaces Phaneesh Murthy who was asked to quit earlier this year for failing to disclose an office affair and after charges of sexual harassment surfaced for the third time in his career.

twitter-logoGoutam Das | September 12, 2013 | Updated 12:36 IST
Former Infosys board member Ashok Vemuri new iGate CEO
Photo: Reuters

Ashok Vemuri
Ashok Vemuri
IT services company iGate on Thursday announced Ashok Vemuri as its new President and Chief Executive effective September 16. Vemuri replaces Phaneesh Murthy who was asked to quit earlier this year for failing to disclose an office affair and after charges of sexual harassment surfaced for the third time in his career.

Vemuri, till recently, was a board member at Infosys and was heading business from manufacturing clients and America, the company's largest revenue geography. He was always seen as an Infosys CEO prospect, along with other board members B.G Srinivas and V. Balakrishnan.

Vemuri can bring in an aggression and rigour to iGate's sales teams, similar to what Phaneesh did, market watchers say. He is articulate, sharp, and quick with respect to decision-making.

"His managerial style is interesting in that it keeps everyone guessing, and therefore, on their toes.  He has a laser-sharp focus on numbers and on outcomes.  Vemuri is extremely disciplined, and very good at managing a complex political environment - else, he wouldn't have gotten from a Manager to CEO-candidate at Infosys in 12 years," Bala Palamadai, Founder & CEO of bizofIT, a start-up company based out of Chicago said. Palamadai worked with Vemuri in Infosys.  

Vemuri, nevertheless, faces challenges. He has to manage a balance sheet laden with about $900 million of debt --- a result of iGate acquiring Patni in 2011. Of course, the market is more challenging than it was two years ago.

"For him to become quickly productive, it will be best to have a team that he is comfortable working with, and knows his style and his expectations," says Palamadai.  

A manager who's known to be tough on team members with a sharp tongue, Vemuri is a keen observer of management styles and business models, and considered a whiz in banking and financial services businesses. In a past interview, he told Business Today that he's big admirer of Jamie Dimon, currently CEO of JPMorgan Chase and credited to have scaled up Citigroup. At Infosys he was groomed by the best and counts among his mentors Chairman N. R. Narayanamurthy, ex-CEO Nandan Nilekani, and ex-CFO Mohandas Pai. See an earlier story on Infosys's leadership team, including Vemuri.

Most senior executives get their own teams when they move companies as in the case of Suresh Vasvani and Mohandas Pai, hired from Wipro and Infosys respectively, when they joined Dell and the Manipal Group. Expect Vemuri to do the same. That would be Infosys's loss considering its already depleted leadership pool. Expect some leadership changes at iGate as well.

"iGATE has great market opportunity right now because of the success of its Business Outcomes-based model and the company's ability to deliver excellent solutions across numerous vertical markets," Vemuri noted in a media statement issued by iGate. "I'm very excited about assuming the roles of President and CEO and look forward to working with the Board of Directors and the management team to deliver on iGATE's growth strategy, leveraging the Company's unique offerings."

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