Infosys Ltd, India's second largest IT services exporter has its sixth CEO in its 36-year history. Salil Parekh is the second non-founder CEO hired at the company after an acrimonious stint by his predecessor Vishal Sikka. Parekh inherits a company with several serious strengths including high margins, a large customer and employee base. He also has several immediate challenges. Here are the top five:
a. Customer Outreach: While services contracts are typically spread over several years and there is no immediate danger, customers are usually wary when vendor firms undergo turbulence. Parekh's first priority is to talk to key customers and reassure them that everything is hunky-dory and he is in control of the situation.
b. Working relationship with founders: Vishal Sikka was felled by his lack of a good relationship with the founders. The founders might hold only a small percentage (about 12%) of the company but cast a long shadow on the company's functioning. So Parekh needs to work out clearly red lines and open clear lines of communication with the founders and the board.
c. Improve employee morale: All the recent tumult has left employees with low morale. He needs to reassure them that they and the company has a bright future.
d. Strategy: Parekh will also need to review strategy and come to a conclusion whether he wants to chart a different course from what Sikka laid out or move faster on the same path. Either way he needs to seriously look at strategy and market tactics.
e. Restore stakeholder trust: Infosys for long was seen as a torchbearer for corporate governance, a reputation which took a strong beating in the recent fracas. He will have to talk to other stakeholders including investors, analysts and market watchers on restoring company's reputation.