Who'd have thought... Wipro went for Delaporte

May 29, 2020 | Phil Fersht

As we discussed just before this virus changed our world (see post), Wipro's next CEO appointment after Abid Neemuchwala had to be someone with teeth and a preparedness to be ruthless.  While I know the post upset a few people at Wipro, they clearly read the piece and its Board acted in a similar vein.  If anything, the current economic and health crisis may have even driven the board to look harder at a leader with discipline and financial acumen. They seem to have got one, who was ready to make the move.

Wipro goes for a strong operator to make tough decisions who is ready for the challenge

The Wipro board was clearly determined to bring in an outsider to make some changes to the company leadership team, organizational structure, and culture, even though there are some strong internal candidates such as Milan Rao and Rajan Kohli. The search was extensive, lasting several months, and the pandemic clearly slowed down the whole process. Moving for Delaporte, a dyed-in-the-wool Capgemini man with a strong operations and finance background shows Wipro is keen on playing it safe as the industry goes into a long cycle of volatility as we (eventually) emerge from the Covid crisis and deepening recession.

However, unlike the appointment of Salil Parekh at Infosys, another ex-Capgemini executive, we expect Delaporte to make some aggressive changes to the firm. He has a reputation within Capgemini for being a tough, ambitious leader and he was clearly very upset when he lost out in the CEO battle with Aiman Ezzat. His relatively quick move to Wipro shows he is determined to lead a major IT services business, even at a time when travel is challenging and the business climate highly uncertain.

It's time to break up old fiefdoms, re-energize the leadership talent and make up lost ground to some of the Tier 1 competitors

Delaporte now has a major challenge to break up some of the industry fiefdoms that have plagued Wipro over the years and bring in some new blood to reenergize the firm. He also has to embrace some of the firm's leadership talent, such as Rao, Kohli and Adlakha, to ensure they have fresh motivation and energy for the challenging times ahead. The extended time this search took leaves Wipro needing to play catch-up with the likes of Infosys, HCL and TCS, so Delaporte needs to move fast. He will also need to make some big decisions surrounding potential acquisitions as the industry goes through its biggest-ever shake-up.

The Bottom-line:  A surprise for many, but a leadership decision made with clear intent - and a lot of patience

While the decision to move on Delaporte is somewhat surprising, especially with his living in France and having a lower profile than other potential candidates like Omar Abbosh, it does indicate the determination of the Premji family and the Board to go for outside blood to make some tough changes to the firm.  Being the first non-Indian to lead the firm will be a major change to the firm's culture - especially when you consider only Cognizant opted for a non-Indian to lead their business (from the India-heritage majors).  But maybe... just maybe... this decision will prove to be a smart one for a company with a tremendous heritage and a family-owner who has given so much back to his country.

To conclude, Delaporte is core services and a proven tough leader in the space (and talk to anyone at Capgemini, he is highly respected). The only thing I worry about could be his French base, but it may actually strengthen Wipro's footprints in Europe (esp financial services). Plus he's a good M&A guy and oversaw perhaps the only successful services merger over the last decade: Capgemini + IGATE.

The more you look at this, the more it starts to look like a bold, shrewd appointment.  Give Thierry some time and we can revisit this decision with the lovely power of hindsight...

Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)IT Outsourcing / IT Services

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1 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Vijay
    Posted May 30, 2020 12:52 AM | Permalink Reply

    Only time will tell. We have seen what transpired with Sikka's hiring.

  2. Phil Fersht
    Posted May 30, 2020 08:25 AM | Permalink Reply

    @Vijay - for starters, Vishal did a lot of good for Infosys, he helped revamp the culture, intilled some disciplines like design thinking and the financial were fine. It utimately didn't end well as he failed to fuse Silicon Valley and Indian cultures (and he wasn't made of services DNA) but it wasnt a bad gamble and could have worked better but for the Board infighting.

    Delaporte is core services and a proven tough leader in the space. The only thing I worry about coould be his French base, but it may actually strengthen Wipro's footprints in Europe (esp financial services). Plus he's a good M&A guy and oversaw perhaps the only successful services merger over the last decade: Capgemini + IGATE.

    The more you look at this, the more it starts to look like a bold, clever appointment,

    PF

  3. Prabir
    Posted May 30, 2020 11:32 AM | Permalink Reply

    Only time will tell. But one thing ... as US and NAM market is not performing well for service (body shoping ) industries . He will help to bring Europe customers to wipro

  4. Annonymizer
    Posted May 30, 2020 03:41 PM | Permalink Reply

    Only time will tell... He is taking up role at a time when entire world is trying to recover from pandemic caused recession + considering Wipro performance compared to it's peers for a decade now.

    Any leader joins in CEO position will make leadership change for sure but is it the leadership lacking in current scenario or strategy or both. I am eager to watch this more closer, only time will tell the impact he is going to make...!

  5. Vijay
    Posted May 30, 2020 04:41 PM | Permalink Reply

    Totally agree on your points about Vishal. He was a breath of much needed fresh air in a very difficult Indian mgmt culture setup. Would be great to see Delaporte fire things up for Wipro - ça peut être interesant biensure!

  6. No nonsense
    Posted May 31, 2020 04:12 PM | Permalink Reply

    Bold & tough are not the terms that come to mind to a seasoned CAPGEMINIan on delaporte. Strong in ops - yes. Superior in navigating Corp politics - yes. Inspite of the Kanbay and Igate assimilation, he is not that trusted by Indian dispora

  7. Ravi Kumar
    Posted Jun 03, 2020 10:17 AM | Permalink Reply

    On a topic not related to Wipro, you mentioned iGate + CapGemini as the only successful IT services merger in the last decade. Where do you place TechM + Satyam merger?

    Thank you

  8. Phil Fersht
    Posted Jun 03, 2020 10:50 AM | Permalink Reply

    @Ravi - technically Tech Mahindra / Satyam was the decade prior in 2009 =)

    I knew Satyam really well and the price Tech M got it for was amazing. Satyam one of the great Indian-hertigage prioneers in IT outsourcing. While it was a bit damaged by the time the transaction went through (esp with loss of key personnel) it still opened up some new industries for Tech M to develop.

    I'm not slamming peoviders for bad acquitions, but it's hard to find ones that were generally additive and created new theresholds of value for the acquirer...

    PF

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