In a long-anticipated move, India's biggest software exporter Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has chosen N. Chandrasekaran, chief operating officer and executive director, to take over from S. Ramadorai as CEO. Mr. Ramadorai, whose term as CEO and MD comes to an end in August 8, will receive an extension up to October 5, 2009 when he completes 65 years of age.
Mr. Chandrasekaran, popularly known as Chandra, will officially take charge as CEO on October 6, subject to shareholder approval. He will be one of the youngest CEOs, along with Francisco D'Souza of Cognizant Technology Solutions, to head a top Indian IT firm at 45 years of age. Under his leadership, TCS could become a more aggressive player and take some bold steps, according to those familiar with his style of working.
Mr. Chandrasekaran started his career at TCS and moved up to head the firm's SEEPZ operation before becoming the global head of sales. In 2007, he, along with three others senior executives, was elevated to the position of executive director. His career graph is similar to that of Mr. Ramadorai, who joined the company as an engineer-programmer in 1972 and rose to the rank of CEO and MD, taking over from the legendary FC Kohli.
Those who know Mr. Chandrasekaran well credit him with a sharp business acumen and keen technical mind—qualities that have seen him move up the hierarchy rapidly. TCS' pioneering move to enter the Latin American market is said to be his brainchild. In his first major responsibility as General Manger (SEEPZ) in 1990s, he handled General Electric, a key customer for TCS that used to contribute around 10% of its revenues.
Not very well-known is that Mr. Chandrasekaran spent a year as executive assistant to Mr. Ramadorai, where he got an opportunity to closely observe what went into building one of the largest software companies in the country and the jewel in the Tata crown. Tata Steel and Tata Motors will also see the CEOs retiring this year. Tata Steel COO HM Nerurkar, 60, is widely speculated to replace current MD B Muthuraman while Tata Motors MD Ravi Kant is rumoured to continue for a year or so.
However, there is no official word on this. Mr. Nerurkar and Mr. Chandrasekaran were appointed as COOs—a newly created position—in 2007. Mr. Nerurkar has recently been elevated to the Tata Steel board.
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