BENGALURU: In the glare of media spotlight on Monday , Infosys chairman R Seshasayee was at pains to clarify that India’s second largest software exporter had put in place a new plan for severance payments to ensure there are “no more (cases like that of) Rajiv Bansals.
The explanation – related to what has been termed an outsize severance payment made by Infosys to its former chief financial officer (CFO) Rajiv Bansal – turned the focus once more on the 44-year-old finance professional, who most recently quit his position as CFO of India’s largest ride-hailing app Ola.
Bansal – a veteran Infosys employee who put in a 17-year stint at the Bengaluru-based IT giant -was given a severance package of Rs 17.38 crore, only a portion of which (Rs 5.2 crore) has been paid out, according to the Infosys chairman.
Both the quantum and the subsequent cessation of payment is at the heart of a slew of concerns on corporate governance at Infosys raised by its founder NR Narayana Murthy. “Perhaps that judgement (on the severance pay for Rajiv Bansal) would have been different if circumstances were different or if the processes had been there,” Seshasayee told reporters at a meeting on Monday in Mumbai.
Bansal, has remained silent in the high-decible battle between Infosys and some of its founders.He did not reply to email queries from ET on the issue.
“He has always been media-shy at Infosys in the mould of (ex-CEO) Shibulal, though more articulate,” said a former employee of Infosys.
ET spoke to a number of industry members and a few of his former colleagues to sketch out a profile of the chartered accountant and commerce graduate from St Xavier’s College who is in the eye of one of corporate India’s biggest storms.
“He (Bansal) is to the point, means business – a transaction-oriented person rather than one who cultivates relationships,” said one person familiar with his working style at Ola. “He could be a tough boss,” said an employee who had worked with him at the ride-hailing company .
Having moved from a blue-chip Nasdaq-listed company to a startup, Bansal often came across as a misfit to many of his colleagues the sources said. All the people ET spoke to requested anonymity.
Under Bansal, the finance team at Ola created processes that had the inadvertent effect of slowing down operations.
“If one set of clearance was needed, they (Bansal’s finance team) increased it to four. This increased confrontations in the (Ola) office across departments, and many threatened top management that it is either us or them,” said an Ola executive.
Industry experts say this is after all, what a CFO is tasked to do – ask tough questions of the CEO. This is also why Bansal is now in the news with regard to Infosys. Vishal Sikka, Infosys’ first non-founder-CEO is an unconventional CEO, said an employee who has worked with the software company for more than a decade.
“Vishal’s mandate is more performance-oriented, where he fo cusses more on a work mechanism that tracks risk and rewards.His teams are more driven in pursuing business,” the Infoscion said. According to five independent sources who spoke to ET, Bansal was unhappy about the quality of acquisitions made by the software-services company which they cite as the reason for his exit.
He headed the finance function of Infosys’ business units and had been identified in the second line when V Balakrishnan was CFO. Bansal began his career at ABB.