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Vishal Sikka Says He Resigned From Infosys Board to Give Nilekani Freedom to Act

Vishal Sikka, who resigned as Infosys CEO last Friday, made the comments in his first media interview today with CNBC-TV18’s Managing Editor, Shereen Bhan.

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Updated:August 25, 2017, 9:14 PM IST
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Vishal Sikka Says He Resigned From Infosys Board to Give Nilekani Freedom to Act
File photo of former Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka. (AP photo)
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Vishal Sikka has said that he offered to resign from the Infosys board in order to give incoming Chairman Nandan Nilekani the freedom to pursue his own plans. Vishal Sikka, who resigned as Infosys CEO last Friday, made the comments in his first media interview today with CNBC-TV18’s Managing Editor, Shereen Bhan.

“The board insisted I stay back as Executive Vice Chairman for the sake of continuity. But over the next several days there was a movement to bring Nandan, which I thought was an excellent idea,” Sikka said on a video link from his Palo Alto home in America. “When Nandan agreed it made sense for him to have a fully free reign. It was not right for me to be there and be an overhang on his plans,” Sikka added.

Sikka also denied rumours that he was planning to join Hewlett Packard. “There is no truth to the rumours. Meg [Whitman, CEO of HP] is a good friend. I haven’t talked to her. Somebody is trying to put me in a box,” he said in the half hour long interview.

He reiterated that the vitiated atmosphere at the workplace made his continuation as CEO difficult. “The amount of noise that came into the system, It was a very vitiated atmosphere. I don’t know who said these things,” he said. “I was heading a $10 billion firm and doing all this work and with the headwinds - brexit, visas - made the job complex. Then you wake up at 5 am and respond for the next 3 hours on what happened overnight. I didn’t want to dwell on that,” he said.

On the Panaya acquisition, specifically not making the forensic investigation report public - which had become one of the central flashpoints between Narayana Murthy and the board – Sikka said there was nothing to hide. “This was the board’s decision, not mine. I would have gone along with whatever the board decided. Some baseless and false allegations were made and it was investigated 3 times by capable law firms and forensic investigators and they said there was nothing there,” Sikka said, adding that if someone wanted to investigate further they could go ahead, but it was a waste of time.

Sikka also added that he didn’t mind reaching out to Narayana Murthy. “Why not, you never say never,” Sikka said. But he added that he wanted to take some time out and think things through. Sikka also defended his decision to be based out of Palo Alto and not relocate to India. “The clients are all outside India and meeting them is how you understand what’s going on. Whatever decisions we took were in the interests of Infosys,” he said.

The former Infosys CEO said that he would like to take some time out and spend time with family, take his kids to school, cook breakfast for his wife and children. He said that he could cook eggs and poha.

Regarding his future, Sikka hinted that he would like to work in the area of artificial intelligence, automation and entrepreneurship and preparing people to understand the changes taking place due to these technological trends. However, he refused to specify exactly what he would do, saying he wanted time to think things through.
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