Despite being at the helm of affairs at Infosys Ltd for only three years, outgoing CEO Vishal Sikka has managed to endear himself to the majority of employees, especially the young employees, with his measures and new ideas that made the average employee felt valued and empowered. With Sikka announcing his exit as CEO and MD of the company on Friday, the overwhelming sense is one of sadness and uncertainty among young employees, especially for those who bought into Sikka’s dreamy, futuristic strategic vision for the company.However, for a section of employees, who do some of the heavy-lifting at the company, the exit of the CEO amid a cloud of controversy over acquisitions and pay hikes is probably welcome, as Sikka’s strategies were set to take the company away from its traditional ways.
“I thought with Sikka in charge, we were in good hands. There was a sense of purpose and direction to the work we were doing and employees who had grown lethargic and shackled by rules that stipulated a formal dress code and fixed work hours were enjoying working in Infosys. We are hoping that these things do not change with Sikka gone,” said a non-technical employee who has been at Infosys for over 10 years.“There is a sense of uncertainty among the employees. They do not know what is going to happen now. There was a specific transformation path that was taken under Sikka and this will definitely change under a new leader,” a senior software engineer at the company said.
Sikka, who brought a slice of Silicon Valley culture to Infosys campuses with his deep knowledge of technology and science, an informal personal style where he wore t-shirts to work or walked barefoot on the lawns of the Infosys campus obliging requests for selfies, enjoyed the status of a “rock star” among the younger lot of the two lakh-strong employees.“With his connections in Silicon Valley and higher education in the US, we felt Sikka was successful in positioning Infosys as an emerging technology company and not just a services company. This would have been good for the company in the long run and whether this can be achieved by anyone else is very doubtful,” the senior software engineer said.
“Every part of the company, every campus and every client would speak about the new thinking you brought to Infosys. Your lectures on AI and innovative thought leadership would always be with us. We are going to miss a great person at heart, great CEO with passion for machines, robots, cognitive thinking,” an Infosys employee said in response to Sikka’s communication on his blog about his exit. “Sometimes I felt you are a misfit for this company as your ideas and plans are way too high/good to be implemented in Infosys with this set of people,” said another employee on Sikka’s blog.
A section of employees are, however, not very downcast about the change of guard and are of the view that there is substance to rumours of wrong doing that has been swirling around since the end of the first year of Vishal Sikka’s tenure. “After Sikka took over, employees received good hikes following appraisals but in the last year, there have been no hikes and this has been demoralising especially after learning that some of the top management including Sikka received huge 55 per cent hikes,” a software engineer said. “The camps are divided — old thinking versus new thought leadership. Looks like this time old thinking has won,” an Infosys employee said about the exit of Sikka. “I sensed dope when I saw that Infosys was paying $200 million for the Panaya acquisition. Sikka will not be missed,” an Infosys employee said.