TCS may go for multiple COOs

Started by arunkathir, Sep 12, 2009, 05:41 AM

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For TCS, India's largest software services provider by sales, deciding who will fit into CEO S Ramadorai's shoes after he retires in
October was quite easy.

It had to be crown prince N Chandrasekaran, who is COO now. But, finding the person to fit into Chandrasekaran's shoes is proving to be more difficult.

So much so that TCS is actually looking at two or more people for the role. Top executives such as Ravi Viswanathan, NG Subramaniam , AS Lakshminarayanan and Abid Ali Neemuchwala are believed to be in the race.

"There is an organisation transition to a new CEO. Therefore, it is too premature to comment on any restructuring or other organisational initiatives," said a TCS spokesperson in response to a mail.

However, multiple employees in senior positions and ex-employees in the know said that a multiple power-sharing formula was being discussed within the organisation, and it has only intensified in the last month or so, as TCS prepares to welcome on board its new CEO next month. They spoke on condition of anonymity.

There are three main reasons why TCS will most probably opt for this structure. TCS is now a $6-billion entity with a headcount of 1.4 lakh. So, huge management bandwidth will be required to carry out functions across different verticals, geographies and service lines.

Secondly, N Chandrasekaran had too many people reporting into him, which may not be the case going forward. COO duties will be divided up among multiple executives.

Thirdly, IT companies are increasingly trying to split duties among various levels in the company.

"N Chandrasekaran has quite a wide span of control- all the heads of geographies, verticals and service lines report to him. He has a lot of pull with customers and generally maintains a tight control. But, the next COO will not be able to single-handedly execute N Chandra's role. Responsibilities will be divided among two or more people based on various areas," said a senior industry executive, familiar with the development.

A senior TCS employee added, "This multiple role-sharing structure has been contemplated for some months now, but the TCS board will have to take a final call. A formal announcement is expected in the next three weeks."

Top IT firms which have tested the power sharing model include India's third largest software exporter Wipro and Nasdaq-listed Cognizant. Sometime after Vivek Paul's exit as CEO of Wipro a few years back, the company opted for a joint CEO structure for its IT business- headed by Suresh Vaswani and Girish Paranjpe.

Cognizant has a two-in-a-box model, where two global leads (one onsite and another offshore) are jointly responsible for key result areas at a business level such as such as customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, revenue and profitability.

In the case of TCS, it's not clear if the senior executives in the fray will have a COO designation or if they will become senior-vice presidents in charge of various areas. While Ravi Viswanathan is presently the company's global telecom head, NG Subramaniam is president of TCS Financial Solutions, AS Lakshminarayanan is the country head for UK & Ireland and Abid Ali Neemuchwala is the global head of TCS BPO.

Of these, Ravi Viswanathan is seen as a front-runner. NG Subramaniam is the elder brother of future CEO N Chandrasekaran, but industry executives ruled out a conflict of interest because both brothers have been in the TCS system for decades now and have risen up the ranks based on merit.

Another industry official said the COO post at TCS was created only a couple of years back, so it isn't incumbent on the company to immediately fill the role.
With Regards,


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