Image: Joshua Navalkar
Infosys on Thursday named Ravi Venkatesan, 53, former chairman of Microsoft India, as co-chairman of its board, where he was already an independent director. The appointment will be widely seen as another step that the Infosys’s board is taking to end an embarrassing, public disagreement with founder NR Narayana Murthy. CEO Vishal Sikka hinted strongly in a company press release that the “distractions” from the spat contributed to its muted performance during the March quarter. The company’s profits fell sequentially by 2.8 percent in the three months ended March 31.
Ravi Venkatesan, who has been on the board of Infosys since April 2011, has made valuable contribution to the development of strategic direction of the company during his tenure, the company said in the release. “Ravi will help me enhance the board engagement in supporting the management in execution of the company’s strategy,” chairman R Seshasayee said.
“This is an exciting time for the technology industry and I am delighted to have the opportunity to work more closely with Sesh and with Vishal and his leadership team in their transformational journey,” Venkatesan said.
He is also currently the chairman of Bank of Baroda, India’s second-biggest state-owned bank. He oversaw the rise of two billion-dollar businesses in India for two American companies. At both companies, he also pushed for social investments that have had a lasting impact.
At Microsoft India, where he was chairman between 2004 and 2011, he championed Project Shiksha, a computer literacy programme, which has so far trained over 40 million schoolchildren in India.
Previously, as chairman of Cummins India, he led the engineering company’s transformation into India’s leading provider of engines and power solutions. He helped establish the Cummins College of Engineering, India's first engineering college for women, in Pune.
Venkatesan invested his personal wealth in non-profits by starting Social Venture Partners India (SVP), a network of donor-partners that he founded four years ago. The non-profit company’s annual report for 2015-16 reported 163 donors had collectively committed Rs 3.04 crore for grant making. SVP had 18 grantees during the year, whose work touched the lives of over 15,000. In 2013, Venkatesan also invested his own money in Unitus Seed Fund, where he is a partner, supporting some of India’s best-known impact investments.
He wrote Conquering the Chaos: Win in India, Win Everywhere
, published by Harvard Business Review, which KV Kamath, the former chairman of ICICI Bank, said he read in a single sitting.
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