Wipro, India’s third largest IT services company, has appointed Abidali Neemuchwala as its new Chief Executive Officer. He replaces TK Kurien, who in turn has been named as the firm’s Executive Vice Chairman. Both appointments are effective February 1, 2016.
With over 160,000 employees serving clients in 175+ cities across 6 continents, Wipro is one of the largest IT services companies of the globe. The organisation posted revenues of $7.6 billion in its latest financial year, making it India’s third largest player, trailing just TCS ($14.2 billion) and Infosys ($8.7 billion).
For the past five years Wipro was led by TK Kurien, and under his leadership the company transformed from a traditional BPO player into a broader technology and consulting company. Per the 1st of next month, Kurien will move on to the role of Executive Vice Chairman, with Abidali Neemuchwala named his successor. The top role switch does not come as a surprise to analysts – in March last year media in India already unveiled Wipro had kicked off a process to identify and groom a successor to Kurien. Shortly after the news, the services company hired Abidali Neemuchwala as Group President and Chief Operating Officer, and several analysts quickly earmarked him as the favourite candidate for the firm’s top spot. Neemuchwala previously served rival TCS for 23 years, holding a variety of leadership roles, most recently serving as the Global head of Business Process Services unit.
“In his nine months as the Chief Operating Officer, Abid has effortlessly assimilated into the culture and ethos of Wipro. I wish Abid every success in his new role,” says Azim Premji, Chairman of Wipro. Kurien adds: “Abid has demonstrated a deep understanding of technology, business vision, sound judgement, and an innate ability to bring people together. I have no doubt that Abid is the right leader to lead Wipro in its next phase of growth.”
With the pick for Neemuchwala, Wipro has opted for a different CEO succession strategy compared to for instance crosstown rival Infosys. The latter company recently made according to analysts a bold bet in putting its faith in Vishal Sikka, a veteran with a reputation of being a technology visionary, but with a relatively modest track record in traditional IT services. Different CEO selection choices have come under increasing scrutiny in the IT outsourcing world, as rapid changes in the landscape are blurring the lines between IT consulting, managed services and software. In the case of Neemuchwala, the move is described as “safe”, although it is widely acknowledged the new CEO will face a challenging task trying to close the gap with Wipro’s rivals.
Commenting on his new role, Neemuchwala says he is “honoured” to lead Wipro, which he describes as a company with a “rich heritage of technology innovation and unflinching commitment to values.” He adds: “I am convinced that we are well positioned to seize new opportunities in today’s marketplace. I look forward to working with the thousands of Wiproites to take our company to greater heights.”