The story behind Mohandas Pai's resignation from Infosys board
Friday, 15th April 2011
By Preeti Singh, Senior Correspondent
T. V. Mohandas Pai, who was angling to replace Shibu Lal as the Infosys COO, has quit company board in a surprise decision. The Board of Directors accepted the resignation of T. V. Mohandas Pai, who will be relieved of his responsibiities on June 11, 2011.
N R Narayana Murthy, Chairman and Chief Mentor said �It is difficult to imagine Infosys without Mohan�s passion, commitment, joie-de-vivre and intellect. We all know that he is taking this painful decision, since he has much bigger projects in the horizon - nation building."
Despite the sweet-sounding farewell, it is apparent that Pai had been checked in his tracks and forced to depart. Nation-building is a sudden diversion for an ambitious, combative man, who till last week, was described by friendly media reports, as a front-runner in the race to become Infosys next COO. Pai did not deny these reports but said the leadership committee would decide on the issue, in effect, declaring his candidacy.
Most importantly, nearly a week after the decision was announced it is now clear the seperation was less than amicable. Pai, who has always loved publicity, has found it difficult to keep his motor-mouth under control. Look at a series of statements he has made in the last few days and a pattern emerges.
1) Infosys founders are a close knit group, have a sub-culture of their own. It was impossible for any outsider like me to breakin. To be fair, they never treated me as an outsider and Murthy sided with me on many occassions when there were disagreements within the team.
2) After quitting Pai threatened to give Azim Premji a run for his money by seeking to work on education in national interest. He denied he had CEO ambitions. A few media reports cite him saying that Murthy offered the top job to him, though he declined.
Then he said: "What goes against me? Seniority. You are discriminated against because the founders have spent longer years." "I know the law, so long as the founders are there, professionals who are late entrants will not get a chance."
Infy's strange policy to give a chance to all founders a chance to run the company meant Pai had no chance, though whether he deserved to get the baton is another issue. But Pai brought out his unhappiness into the open and declared a war on the founders, asking them to step aside.
The problem with Infosys is that its management has tended to be status quo oriented, he said. �If some people have come together to set up a corporation and over a period of time they create tremendous value�they (then) start defending the value. That is the time when you must step aside and let a new generation of people to come, start with that base and go further three to five times,� he said.
3) While it was bad enough that Pai felt he had no chance to head Infosys, Shibulal's elevation was unacceptable. He told Marayana Murthy: When you choose a CEO, choose somebody who should not be experienced. It (the criterion) should be what he is going to do for the next five years, because, life is about tomorrow and not about yesterday. Yesterday�s meal is digested, but tomorrow�s meal is important.�
But Infosys stuck to its guns and said: Welcome Shibu, good bye Pai
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