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Does the IT sector really require younger CEOs?

A lot of time is being spent on figuring out what Francisco D’Souza is having for breakfast these days. The 41-year-old CEO of Cognizant is credited for turbo-charging the Nasdaq-listed firm. While it may be quite unfortunate that analysts are unfairly comparing the strictly American firm with Indian IT vendors, Cognizant cannot be denied its place in the sun for what it has done in the last three years or so.
The theory that has been making the rounds is that it is prudent to appoint younger CEOs in the IT sector—a discussion point that always excited technologists ever since Larry Page and later Mark Zuckerberg walked into the scene. So, in India, industry watchers have been taking a good look at D’Souza; his chubby face can even give an impression of a man in his 30s. People are showing him in good light by comparing and contrasting him with veterans like SD Shibulal of Infosys and TK Kurien of Wipro. Are Infosys and Wipro not doing too well, because their CEOs are in their 50s? Now that’s too simplistic a thought for my liking.
It’s true that D’Souza took over as CEO of Cognizant in 2007 when he was just 38. His age was a big talking point then. He stepped in for Lakshmi Narayanan, who was promoted as vice-chairman. The Nairobi born D’Souza has apparently lived in over 10 countries, in keeping with his father’s IFS service. The MBA grad from Carnegie Mellon is said to be someone with diverse interests. In front of him—Kurien and Shibulal—two of the most redoubtable leaders in the Indian IT industry may look boring, but that’s not true. Kurien is as hard nosed a character you can find and a master strategist; gadget-freak Shibu is one of the most persistent leaders around with sound technical know-how.
Shibu, with a MSc in computer science from Boston University has been with Infosys from the beginning. He is one of the most loyal employees of the company, whom even NR Narayana Murthy has a high regard for. There is this story that Shibulal was once asked by NRN to finish a task, and he did not even go home for three days at a stretch. NRN was quite surprised that an employee was willing to go that kind of an extra mile. Shibu was probably marked down as the man for the future, from that time onwards.
TK Kurien, on the other hand, took over as CEO of Wipro’s IT business earlier this year after chairman Azim Premji discontinued with the joint CEO model. He took charge when Wipro was going through a difficult period. He is sure to do well there, as he has turned around several shrinking businesses earlier in his career. Some may say that he is keeping the chair warm for Rishad Premji to take over, but that thought may be reserved for another day.
The best man to look forward to, is probably TCS CEO N Chandrasekaran who is still under 50 years of age, with solid sectoral experience. And currently there seems to be no firm in India that can run TCS close. A fine blend of experience and ability, never hurts.
Google the Goliath
Is everyone ganging up to kill Android? Google certainly thinks so. The internet search giant has blamed Microsoft, Apple and even Oracle for colluding to finish off Android by initiating what it calls a “bogus” patent campaign. More than 500,000 Android devices are said to be activated every day, and that’s worrying MS and Apple—no friends either by any stretch of imagination. There has been a patent war going on for some time, and MS and Apple want to win it. All three companies are going head on in the smart-phone and tablet markets, and strangely Google has become the common enemy. You know it’s no longer the cute little start-up that threatened the Goliath.Google is the new Goliath

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