05 January 2016 08:02:46 IST

CEO will chart new tech roadmap: Premji

Wipro’s appointment on expected lines; move aimed at shoring up IT services giant’s growth

Wipro Limited on January 4 announced the appointment of Abidali Z Neemuchwala as the Chief Executive Officer and Member of the Board of the country’s third-largest IT services company.

Neemuchwala, who is currently Group President and Chief Operating Officer, will take over from TK Kurien, who will become the Executive Vice-Chairman and continue on the company’s Board until March 31, 2017. Both appointments are effective February 1, 2016.

Kurien was due to retire by December 2016 and now has got an extension for three more months.

Widely expected The 48-year-old Neemuchwala took on the role of COO in March 2015, a position that remained vacant since September 2009. His appointment was was widely seen as Wipro’s attempt to groom its next CEO, especially since Kurien’s term of five years was coming to an end in January 2016. Kurien will continue to report to Chairman Azim Premji.

“Over the past five years, Wipro has been transforming into a next generation technology and consulting company with defining differentiators in the market place,” said Premji.

“As Executive Vice Chairman, TK [Kurien] will enable Abid [Neemuchwala] by leveraging his deep relationships with customers and chart out a new technology roadmap for Wipro,” the Wipro patriarch said.

“In his nine months as Group President and COO, Abid has effortlessly assimilated into the culture and ethos of Wipro. The new structure will ensure smooth succession and will build on the solid foundation we have developed to drive superior growth and profitability” added Premji. Wipro has been chasing growth unsuccessfully compared to its peers. After taking over as CEO in January 2011, Kurien had promised to return the company back to its high growth path in 8 quarters.

However, growth continued to elude the company as market dynamics continued to change rapidly, with clients demanding newer value propositions at the same rates.

The right move Analysts BusinessLine spoke to feel Neemuchwala’s appointment as CEO will instil tremendous confidence among Wipro employees and shareholders, as the reins of the company will be in the hands of a seasoned professional.

“Neemuchwala was Global Head of Business Process Services with TCS and has solid expertise in handling this thin-margin business, which he will bring to bear in his new role as CEO. Every CEO requires a mentor and there is no better mentor to Neemuchwala than TK, who is a Wipro veteran with many successes to his credit,” said Sanchit Vir Gogia, Chief Analyst & CEO, Greyhound Research.

Giving a thumbs up to Neemuchwala’s appointment as CEO, Venu Reddy, General Manager, IDC Centre for Consultancy and Research said, “His appointment is broadly in the right direction. Wipro has been making a lot of investments in its applications business, in building industry specific solution stacks, automation, and new technologies over the last year and a half and it will be up to Neemuchwala to continue the good work started by TK.”

Pointing out that Neemuchwala’s appointment was no surprise, Sudin Apte, Principal Analyst & CEO, Offshore Insights Research said, “He is an outsider and will therefore bring in a different, fresh perspective into the business. However, he has many challenges to address – growth is a big concern area for Wipro. There is a disconnect between Wipro’s strategy and what clients are seeking.” He will also have to change the mindset among Wipro veterans, cautioned Apte.

Neemuchwala holds an Electronics and Communication engineering degree from NIT, Raipur and has a Masters in Industrial Management from IIT Bombay. At TCS, he headed its Business Process Services business. He was awarded the BPO CEO of the year 2010 and in 2012 he was recognised by the Shared Services Organisation of IPQC for his contribution to the industry.

In his current role at Wipro, he is responsible for business operations, geographies including Continental Europe, Africa and Latin America, Strategic Engagements, Advisor Relationships and Strategic Marketing.