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TechM looking at internal talent to succeed Gurnani

Tech Mahindra, India’s fifth largest IT services firm by revenue, is scouting for internal talent to succeed its current CEO and managing director CP Gurnani, who will retire by the end of next year, sources familiar with the developments said.

According to the sources, the likely frontrunners for the top job include Manish Vyas, president, Communications, Media & Entertainment (CME), and CEO of Network Services; Lakshmanan Chidambaram, president of Tech Mahindra Americas; and Harshvendra Soin, global chief people officer and head of Marketing.

While Vyas, who heads the CME vertical, has been with the company for more than 22 years, Chidambaram, who heads Americas, the largest market for Tech Mahindra, has been with the company for close to 12 years. Soin, who heads the people function, has been with the company for about 10 years.

The five-year term of Gurnani was to end on August 10 as he turned 65, but earlier this year, the board approved his reappointment as MD and CEO for another term starting from August 10, 2022 and ending on December 19, 2023.

“The Nomination and Remuneration Committee and the Board of the Company will ensure a structured and thoughtful succession plan. CP Gurnani will be a special invitee to the selection committee and play an important role in ensuring a smooth transition,” the company said in a statement dated May 13.

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An email sent to the company did not elicit a response. However, a company spokesperson said that they have nothing more to say than what has been shared in the May statement.

If an internal candidate indeed replaces Gurnani, it will be significant as the general trend in the Indian IT services industry has been to hire external CEOs due to a weak leadership pipeline. Moreover, hiring external candidates is often a longer process.

For instance, after Abidali Neemuchwala resigned from Wipro in January 2020, it took the company six months before it roped in Capgemini executive Thierry Delaporte for the top job in July 2020. Similarly, it took Infosys four months to appoint Salil Parekh (also from Capgemini) in January 2018 after Vishal Sikka left in August 2017.

HR experts believe leaders must be groomed early on and it is difficult to do so with frequent job hoppers. “The important aspect for organisations to develop leadership material is to identify top talent early on in their career and start investing in them… However, the problem is, in the past two decades, leaders were groomed more through on-the-job training and without much investment. Considering that the current generation has a problem with stickiness, employers are faced with an additional challenge of retaining this talent, leave alone pegging them for leadership growth,” said AR Ramesh, director, Managed Services and Professional staffing, Adecco India.

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