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Meet the new TCS chief executive

May 27, 2009 20:04 IST

Meet N Chandrasekaran, the new TCS CEO

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Rediff Money Desk

Tata Consultancy Services, India's largest IT company, is all set for a new chief executive.

In an unsurprising move, the company's board of directors has appointed and approved current TCS chief operating officer and executive director N Chandrasekaran as the CEO and Managing Director-designate.

Though the current CEO and MD S Ramadorai's five-year term is scheduled to end on August 8, 2009, he's received an extension with the company till October 5, 2009, when he turns 65, in line with the company's retirement policy.

Known lovingly as Chandra, N Chandrasekaran will assume charge as the CEO and MD of the IT giant on October 6, 2009, subject to shareholder approval. At just 45 years of age, he will be one of the Indian IT industry's youngest CEOs, alongside 39-year-old Francisco D'Souza of Cognizant Technology Solutions.

Like Ramadorai, Chandrasekaran too started his career at TCS in 1987. He quickly climbed the hierarchal ladder to become General Manager, SEEPZ, in the 1990s. In that capacity, he handled the account of General Electric, a key TCS client whose business once comprised around 10 per cent of TCS's revenues.


Image: S Ramadorai, CEO, Tata Consultancy Services speaks to N Chandrasekaran, CEO-designate.
Photographs: Arko Datta/Reuters
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Hand-picked to direct the company

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Chandrasekaran also played a key role in several momentous decisions TCS has made, including expanding its services to include BPO, infrastructure development and consultancy. It was Chandrasekaran who helped TCS pioneer its unique Global Network Delivery Model (GNDM) and venture into new markets in Europe, Asia and Latin America.

After serving as the global head of sales, in 2007 Chandrasekaran was promoted to the position of Chief Operating Officer and Executive Director. He's also been credited as the chief architect of both the company's Integrated Quality Management System and its E-business arm. Additionally, Chandrasekaran was responsible for setting up one of India's largest offshore software development centres in Mumbai.

Reports say that for some time he has been hand-picked and groomed to direct TCS, the IT jewel in the Tata Group's crown. He once worked very closely with Ramadorai as executive assistant, where he learned first-hand the skills and temperament necessary to run a global software giant.


Image: TCS CEO-designate, N Chandrasekaran
Photographs: Rediff Archives
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One of the world's top consultants

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In 2006, Chandrasekaran was named one of the top 25 most influential consultants in the world by the US-based Consulting Magazine.

The TCS board's announcement, though largely expected, comes at a time of great uncertainty and challenge for the IT industry, in general, and the company, in particular. It's being speculated that Tata favours Chandrasekaran's aggressive, decisive business style to confront the impact of the current global slowdown, which has had a debilitating effect on the IT industry.

Also, Chandrasekaran will be expected to improve TCS's image in comparison to its Bangalore-based rival, Infosys. Though TCS's fiscal year 2009 revenue of $6 billion clearly outstrips Infosys's $4.6 billion fiscal year 2009 revenue, some analysts have claimed that Infosys has recently done better than TCS in terms of margins and revenue growth. Reports said TCS's revenue grew at about 5 per cent in FY09, while Infosys' was almost 12 per cent. (Both in US dollar terms)


Image: Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata.
Photographs: Amit Dave/Reuters
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Ramadorai transformed TCS into a $6-bn giant

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As for the retiring S Ramadorai, his legacy speaks for itself. He joined the company as a trainee engineer-programmer in 1972, but quickly rose and in 38 brilliant years helped transform TCS into a $6 billion company. In 1996, he was named CEO and MD, taking over from IT icon and the then TCS boss, FC Kohli.

Ramadorai is known for his efforts to build relationships with large MNCs and academic institutions and for his overseeing of the company's acquisitions and research and development activities. He is credited for having played an integral role in establishing viable and successful Offshore Development Centres in India.

In 2008, Ramadorai was recognised as the 'International CEO of the Year' at the 14th Annual Latin Trade Bravo Business Awards and the 'Asia Talent Management of the Year' at CNBC's 7th Asia Business Leader Award.

Ratan Tata is the chairman of the Tata Group, which includes Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Steel and Tata Motors and many other companies. Tata Steel and Tata Motors too are likely to appoint new CEOs in the next one year, according to reports.


Image: S Ramadorai, retiring Chief Executive of Tata Consultancy Services.
Photographs: Arko Datta/Reuters
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