The low-key soft-spoken executive has arguably never been in the limelight – hardly ever seen at the company’s quarterly earnings or annual analyst meets. Before Thursday that is!
“He is quiet but a very firm business leader,” said Lakshmi Narayanan, former CEO of Cognizant who has known Krithivasan through his professional circles in Chennai. “Professionals within TCS would vie for whatever achievements he has accomplished for the company silently…(as) he has always remained behind-the-scenes kind of a guy.”
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Ray Wang, founder of IT research firm Constellation Research, said Krithivasan has had “a lot of success with large deals, productisation and delighting customers”. “I think the board was looking for someone who is a practitioner,” Wang said.
With over 34 years of experience within TCS, Krithivasan, an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur alumnus, is presently president and global head of banking, financial services, and insurance (BFSI) business group that accounts for around 32% of the overall company revenue.
Under his leadership, TCS saw over 50% of its BFSI deals shifting to growth and transformation (G&T) projects – a key initiative by outgoing CEO Rajesh Gopinathan.
Industry analysts feel the company going with an internal candidate and a BFSI expert helps in times when the domain is expected to go through turbulent times due to the macroeconomic situation.
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Krithivasan is also seen as a market-facing candidate who will help TCS in its next phase of growth.
“He is not the flashy CEO types who would want to be in the headlines,” said Sumanth Raman, who worked at TCS Chennai for 20 years and was a healthcare domain consultant in his last role before moving on in 2021. “Krithivasan comes across as a steady hand at the wheel. He is not overly emotional and is very focused.”
But back to the first point. At 58, is he too old for the role?
The outgoing CEO and MD weighs in on his behalf. “In TCS, the retirement age for executive directors is 65 years and he (Krithivasan) easily has six years as appointments are 5-year terms,” Gopinathan said during a press conference on Friday. “…when I took over, I was asked (whether) I was too young; now the question is, ‘is this guy too old?’ Those kinds of questions keep on coming,” he said.
So, what is Krithivasan’s biggest challenge in the new role?
Moving from Chennai to Mumbai, he joked at the press conference.
Krithivasan headed the BFSI vertical for almost a decade before he was elevated to the BFSI leadership in 2017 and has extensive experience with large deals and growth and transformation programs.