Wipro makes first management change under Abidali Neemuchwala

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Bengaluru: Wipro Ltd has entrusted its current head of manufacturing and technology practice to head the energy vertical, and created a new role for the head of oil and gas practice, marking the first management changes under chief executive Abidali Neemuchwala, who took over as boss of India’s third largest information technology (IT) outsourcing company in February 2016.

N.S. Balasubramanian, who heads the manufacturing and technology practice, Wipro’s second largest vertical, accounting for 22.7% or $457 million of company’s December quarter revenue, will take over as head of energy, natural resources, utilities and construction (ENU) business unit. Anand Padmanabhan, who in his decade-long leadership role as head of ENU has made it the largest practice among all homegrown IT companies, will take over as head of business development and strategic sales. Padmanabhan has been mandated to help Wipro win more large outsourcing contracts.

Both Balasubramanian and Padmanabhan hold the designation of president at the company, and report into Neemuchwala.

A spokesperson for Wipro confirmed these changes, which will be effective from 1 April 2018.

“Wipro Ltd has announced the organisational changes in line with its stated intent to rotate talent and provide diverse leadership opportunities that will give an impetus to its business strategy in the changing IT landscape,” said a spokeswoman.

“Anand Padmanabhan (AP) will use his global experience to grow and drive localisation in ‘Leveraged Geographies’, which include Asia Pacific & Japan, Continental Europe, Canada, Middle East and Africa.”

Since joining Wipro as chief operating officer in April 2015, and then taking over as CEO on 1 February 2016, Neemuchwala, formerly with TCS, has not made any major changes to his senior leadership team or to executives who report to him. This is one reason why Wipro, save for one senior executive departure in the last two years, has managed to have a stable management team.

Still, a few analysts have also faulted Neemuchwala for his conservative approach of not bringing new leaders to head business units as possibly one reason behind the company’s slow pace of growth.

Neemuchwala has repeatedly tried to assuage any such concerns and for now maintains that beginning the financial year in April, Wipro will start reporting industry-matching growth.

“Now, CEOs do things differently. Some CEOs come and say, look, I’m in a hurry and I have to make all the changes and bring people I know. Some CEOs say that this is a transformation journey, if you have the right people with learnability skills, you help them with a reskilling programme. You’ve got to give time to people to change and learn with the new environment,” Neemuchwala told Mint last year on his approach of continuing with the same set of leaders.

“I believe a stable leadership team with stable customer relationships is needed.”

Additionally, Wipro also appointed Deepak Acharaya as the general counsel and Global head, Legal, after the earlier head Inderpreet Sawhney left the company last summer to join rival Infosys Ltd.

Wipro has split its manufacturing and technology business unit into two separate businesses that the management believes will help it improve focus. Ankur Prakash, who was one of the executives who joined Neemuchwala from Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS) in 2015, and who is heading business for Latin America, has been given the additional responsibility of overseeing manufacturing practice. Nitin Parab will head the business from clients in the technology space.livemint