From humble beginnings in Baroda to a PhD from Stanford University and leading a turnaround at tech giant SAP, Vishal Sikka's zest for knowledge guided his decision to join India's second-largest software services firm Infosys as its next CEO and MD.
It could be one of the toughest assignments for the 47-year-old industry expert as he takes on the mantle on August 1. Infosys, founded by NR Narayana Murthy in 1981, has been facing senior-level exits and competition from TCS and HCL Technologies. "I'm very happy and humbled to take this responsibility. I have always been amazed at how Infosys always put emphasis on education and learning."
"Like Narayana Murthy, I am also the son of a teacher. My mother was a teacher in Rajkot, Gujarat, and father was an engineer in the Indian Railways," he told reporters here.
Sikka complimented Infosys for its "deep understanding of value, learning and learnablity".
Born in a Punjabi family, Sikka studied in Rosary High School in Vadodara. Sikka blogs and is an avid reader, with Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha one of his favourite books. He graduated in computer engineering from MS University, Vadodara, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi contested the recent Lok Sabha election.
Sikka finished his bachelor of science in Computer Science from Syracuse University and his doctorate in artificial intelligence from Stanford University. He worked at Xerox's research lab at Palo Alto and later started his first company, iBrain, with his brother, which was acquired by PatternRX, Inc.
His second startup, Bodha.com, was bought by Peregrine Systems, where Sikka worked as Vice President for Platform Technologies after the acquisition.
Sikka joined German enterprise solutions provider SAP in 2002 to head the advanced technology group, where he was responsible for strategic innovative projects.
Five years later, he was named the first CTO of the company, reporting directly to the CEO, and was responsible for all SAP products and innovation.