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Wipro's new CEO Thierry Delaporte has an impressive CV but challenges galore: Experts

Delaporte will have to ring in organisational changes to help Wipro regain lost ground, feel experts.
May 29, 2020 / 09:25 PM IST

Amid the worst health crisis the world has ever seen, former Capgemini executive Thierry Delaporte will have to face challenges at multiple levels, cultural and structural as he takes charge as Wipro CEO on July 6, 2020.

According to analysts and IT executives, he is more than ready to take on the challenge.

For most, Delaporte was a surprising choice for Wipro, India's fourth-largest Indian IT firm.

V Balakrishnan, former CFO, Infosys, said: "It is a surprising choice.”

Phil Fersht, CEO and chief analyst, HFS Research, an analyst platform, commented in his blog, "Who would have thought… Wipro went for Delaporte."

But both Balakrishnan and Fersht said the choice could not have been more perfect especially at a time when Wipro is chasing growth.

Also Read | Wipro's new CEO: Can foreign executives succeed at Indian IT firms?

"Growth has been a challenge for Wipro. Abid (Abidali Neemuchwala) and Rishad (Premji) wanted to drive a higher growth trajectory and were more oriented towards it," said Chirajeet Sengupta, Partner, Everest Group.

However it did not happen. The company has been growing at 2-3 percent in the last couple of years, way behind its peers Infosys, TCS and HCL Tech. In FY19, HCL Tech overtook Wipro to become the third-largest IT service company in India.

At this juncture, to drive growth, Delaporte has to ring in changes at the organisational level.

Sengupta explained that these structural changes could be driving tighter alignment of industry verticals with the service lines of Wipro, or between sales and delivery verticals.

"Wipro's focus has been driving digital, engineering, security and cloud services and that could be re-engineered under his leadership," he added.

Fersht wrote in the blog that Delaporte will also need to make some big decisions on potential acquisitions.

Sanchit Vir Gogia, founder & CEO, Greyhound Research, said acquisitions will be key in driving new business and Delaporte's vast expertise could come in handy.

Specialising in finance, Delaporte spent 25 years at Capgemini and donned multiple roles across geographies. Delaporte started as a Group Internal Auditor of Capgemini’s subsidiary Sogeti in 1995 and went on to become chief financial officer for various geographies such as Asia Pacific, North America and Australia-New Zealand.

He was later elevated to COO and Head of Sales Application Services in January 2011. Delaporte became the Head of Capgemini's Global Financial Services Strategic Business Unit 2013.

During his tenure, he also oversaw Capgemini's operations in Latin America from 2016. Delaporte’s elevation to Group Chief Operating Officer came in January 2018.

Thierry, as a part of Capgemini, has been a part of large number of initiatives including the integration of iGate, which it acquired in 2015.

Going by the testimony found in his LinkedIn profile, he is someone who balances financial discipline required to deliver the results with a balance on investing in the growth objectives.

As industrious as he is, Delaporte will have to navigate cultural challenges in Wipro and that could take time.

Delaporte is the first non-Indian CEO in a firm where its Indian promoters hold more than 70 percent share. Gogia said, “So, the cultural issues are going to be significant.”

Balakrishnan, former Infosys executive, pointed out that the new CEO will have be given a free rein to usher in the drastic changes and drive growth. Excessive interference will not help. According to industry watchers, alignment with vision of Rishad Premji, chairman, Wipro, would be important.

Sengupta said that though most IT firms are globalised in culture, given the nature of the industry and Wipro, there is a gravitational pull towards India. However common strengths between Capgemini and Wipro will help. Both companies are strong in engineering, manufacturing, energy and utilities and SAP and Oracle.

But the challenge would be how does one retain the core of an organisation and build on that and extend it further, he added. Sengupta, one of the few who was not surprised by the choice, said: "Thierry, who is respected and well-known in business leadership, has a lot of market influence.With his pedigree and knowledge, he will be able to drive the changes."
Swathi Moorthy
first published: May 29, 2020 09:25 pm
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