Thierry was good in Theory but perhaps not as Palliatable as Pallia


So, the worst rumor in the industry finally came to fruition: Thierry Delaporte finally fell on his sword at struggling Wipro to be replaced by an internal Wipro-ite and 32-year veteran, Srini Pallia. This is Wipro’s first internal candidate to take the helm since T K Kurien’s appointment in 2011.

Delaporte came into Wipro as the pandemic was kicking in and used his remote advantage to pull the company together, speaking with a multitude of clients and giving the firm some strategic direction during that difficult time, especially with the bold acquisition of financial services consulting powerhouse Capco.  In addition, Wipro enjoyed a strong 2021 as dollars flowed into cloud modernization, and many of Wipro’s large clients, such as AT&T, Citibank, ABN Amro, Levi’s, Metro AG, Dell, and Este, all kept faith in the firm.  However, when the momentum was there to kick on and compete for some of the choice deals, Thierry took his eye off the ball.

Sadly for Wipro, the post-pandemic period has been one of the worst times in the company’s history:

  • Delaporte rarely left his Paris base, while his CEO counterparts have been regularly rallying the troops across India and the US. You can’t run an Indian-heritage business during tough economic times when you’re not physically present to boost morale and represent the firm. Being seen at Davos and not rallying the leadership while the revenues are tanking is not a good look.
  • He brought in many executives from outside of Wipro and neglected the loyal Wipro-ites who had built the company.  This has resulted in many A players leaving the firm such as Rajan Kohli (CitiusTech) and most notably losing its well-respected CFO, Jatin Dalal to Cognizant.
  • His large deals team, spearheaded by Stephanie Trautman, struggled with the internal fiefdoms Thierry failed to address, and was shut down at the end of last year with Trautman, a popular figure with clients, leaving the firm.
  • The Capco acquisition has been a major struggle to bear fruit, which was Delaporte’s big bet, as we discussed recently.
  • The morale has been sapped out of Wipro for a year now, and this change in leadership is at least six months overdue.

So what’s the deal with Srini, and can he bring Wipro’s mojo back?

While several external candidates were mooted, Rishad has opted for a popular internal candidate based in New Jersey the heartland of IT services decision making.  Srini has the respect of the guys who built the firm (those who are still there) and well-liked by key partners Microsoft and SAP.  He knows the company, he knows many of the key clients, especially ones like Este and Tapestry he personally let for Wipro.

What are the big things he needs to do quickly?

Restore morale.  Simply put, the firm is bleeding talent, and morale has never been lower.  He needs to nail down his plans quickly, give the firm renewed direction, and convince key stakeholders he is the right choice during perhaps the darkest period in Wipro’s history.

Retain key leaders. Significant talent, such as Suhba Tatavarti, Suzanne Dann, Nagendra Bandaru, Anis Chenchah, Harish Dwarkanhalli, and Jo Debecker, remains in the firm. He needs to pull together and ensure they stay.

Breakdown the fiefdoms. This is where Thierry struggled, and Srini can succeed by ensuring they go after new clients as one Wipro team, not a broken group of silos.  Srini is at the coalface of many deal pursuits and should be in prime position to fix these issues.

Fix Capco. As we recently discussed it makes no sense to keep these entities so separate with separate brands.  It’s not too late to reverse this and get this moving in the right direction, especially with financial services over the worst of its difficult times.

The Bottom-line:  Better late than never, but this is no easy task for Pallia as Wipro turns back time 

After the failed experiment to make Wipro like a Big 4/Accenture-like firm, Wipro is going back to its Indian-centric 80-year heritage to deliver cost-efficiency, but with capabilities to support transformations, Cloud and GenAI (Wipro is performing well with several GenAI pilots and rollouts, for example).  However, the firm has to play catch-up during the toughest time facing Indian-heritage outsourcing, and Pallia needs to weather more challenging quarters, impatient shareholders, and unrealistic expectations.  Thierry hasn’t left a great legacy to build on…

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


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