At Wipro, 'Two CEOs Are Better than One'

It's been three months since the IT company launched its new structure, and the joint chief executives are happy with how it's going

It has been more than 90 days, since Wipro ushered in the joint CEO structure for its IT business. The two joint CEOs—Suresh Vaswani and Girish S Paranjpe—have found the going good while laying out ambitious plans for the future, they told P P Thimmaya in Bangalore in an interview. Excerpts follow:

How has been the experience so far?

Suresh Vaswani (SV): It has been great. It is playing out to what we said: Great opportunity and challenges, lot of hard work.

Two CEOs are better than one, no change in that. You need two people to start thinking of the future, on what sort of transformation the IT industry is going through and how can Wipro address this challenge. A big upside of this two-CEO model is that it gives the message to the organisation about collaboration and now we see that lot of people are collaborating within the organisation. This model has been received well by the board, organisation and the people.

Do you feel this model has come at the right time, given the challenging macro economic environment?

Girish Paranjpe (GP): Coming in at relative tough time like this pushes us taking tough decision early rather than postpone it.

SV: Mr Premji could not have timed it better. We are entering into a different situation today where everything is not hunkydory. This kind of a model has the

re-energising impact. Through the joint CEO model, we have brought in many positive changes creating a lot of integration and collaboration. The change is for the good and better.

Both of you have been colleagues for more than 15 years, what are the complementary skills you bring to the table?

SV: More than the complementary skills, we see that the opportunities and challenges are enormous. So, the point is how do we work collectively as a team where

strategic decisions are taken together. We have created a nice working model. There will be complementary areas we try and sense it out. Girish asks a lot of strong questions . We know, it is between the two of us that we have to find the answers.

GP: The first 90 days have been really good. We have open meeting and good working relationship. Both of us have learnt to listen, confer and decide together on big and strategic issues. Operationally, each one of us has his own style, Suresh has tremendous excellence on operational issues.

Is there a possibility that one of you would relocate to U.S.?

SV: Why not Europe (laughs). Everything is open, if it makes sense for one of us to be somewhere, why not. Europe is a good possibility as it is the centre of the world. We will take it as it comes. The point is to optimise the bandwidth we have in the interest of the company.

GP: It gives us strategic options , which as a single individual one could not do and a degree of freedom.

What role is Wipro chairman Azim Premji playing?

SV: Mr Premji is playing the role of executive chairman and he has a larger canvas, which includes other business like consumer products and infrastructure. We

jointly take the accountability of strategy and delivering the financial results.

GP: His (Azim Premji) role is to basically challenge and motivate us.

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