Challenging Times: Capgemini’s Delaporte to be Wipro’s new CEO

The new CEO will bring consulting experience across several industry verticals, particularly the financial services as he has spent two decades heading that vertical.

Wipro, the country’s fourth largest IT services company, on Friday announced the appointment of Capgemini’s chief operating officer and a member of the French IT major’s group executive board, Thierry Delaporte, as its CEO and managing director. Delaporte will be based in Paris and will join the company from July 6 and report to Wipro’s chairman Rishad Premji.

The new CEO will bring consulting experience across several industry verticals, particularly the financial services as he has spent two decades heading that vertical. Commenting on the appointment, Delaporte said, “I look forward to working closely with Rishad, the board, senior leadership and the hugely talented employees of Wipro to turn a new chapter of growth and build a better tomorrow for all our stakeholders.”

Delaporte will be taking over from Abidali Neemuchwala in the midst of a pandemic that has triggered several bankruptcies across the world, especially in North America, which is the largest market for Indian IT services majors. Under Neemuchwala, Wipro made a number of strategic acquisitions but growth has not kept pace with that of its peers. Last year, Wipro lost its rank as the third largest IT services company by revenues to HCL Tech.

Wipro has been struggling to reinvent its business in the face of disruptive digital technologies like cloud, digitisation, Internet of things and artificial intelligence. After Neemuchwalal, Rishad Premji, chairman of Wipro, believes that Delaporte is the right man for the job as he has had a strong international exposure, deep strategic expertise and ability to forge long-standing client relationships. He said, “We believe that Thierry is the right person to lead Wipro in its next phase of growth.”

In January this year, Neemuchwala had announced that he was stepping down due to family commitments.

Wipro is the second Indian IT company to poach top talent from Capgemini. Infosys CEO Salil Parekh also joined the company from Capgemini, where he was a member of the group executive board.

Over the last four years that Neemuchwala has been helming Wipro, the company has lost market share and struggled to grow revenues.

Delaporte has his task cut out as the pandemic has triggered several bankruptcies already and it is hard to assess the impact this would have on revenues. Over the last five years, Wipro’s dollar revenues have grown at a CAGR of 2.31% compared to 7.99% for Infosys and 7.42% for TCS. For the first time since its listing in the US, Wipro did not give a revenue guidance this year. Research and advisory firm ISG had reported that 60% of clients would ask IT services players to reduce prices by 20-50%. It considered price reductions to the tune of 20-30% to be fairly common, lasting for a period as long as a year.

In the recent earnings call of Wipro, the top management has mentioned that the impact of the Covid-19 discontinuity had affected its numbers negatively to the range of 0.7-0.8%. The company reported revenue of $2.07 billion for the quarter ended March 31, missing the $2.09 billion to $2.14 billion range it had predicted in January. Delaporte would also be facing an uncertain aviation, healthcare, BFSI, hospitality and media business segments, that were said to face slowdown in the US and European markets.

In its recent report, Gartner predicted that IT spending globally would fall to 8% while the spend on cloud-based telephony and messaging, and cloud-based conferencing will grow 8.9% and 24.3%, respectively. The commentary around BFSI, healthcare, education and the digital business segments show a strong inclination to remote productivity and optimisation tools across the world.

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