Salil Parekh, new Infosys CEO, MD

Infosys appointed Salil S. Parekh as CEO and Managing Director of Infosys. He replaces U. B. Pravin Rao who will continue as Chief Operating Officer and whole-time director. Rao took over as the Bengaluru-based IT company’s interim CEO and Managing Director earlier this year. In a release issued by the company, it stated that the appointment was approved by the Infosys board of directors for a period of five years, subject to approval of shareholders and other regulatory requirements. The appointment was made based on the recommendation of the Nomination and Remuneration Committee which concluded its global search for a CEO and MD. Commenting on the appointment of Salil S. Parekh, Nandan Nilekani, Chairman of the Infosys board said, “We are delighted to have Salil joining as the CEO & MD of Infosys. He has nearly three decades of global experience in the IT services industry. He has a strong track record of executing business turnarounds and managing very successful acquisitions.” Parekh joins Infosys from Capgemini where he was a member of the group executive board.

Ivanka transforms Hyderabad

Ivanka Trump took Hyderabad by storm recently when she attended an international conference in the city. Ivanka delivered the keynote at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES), sharing the stage with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and later had dinner at Falaknuma Palace, a royal residence that was converted into a private hotel, recently. Besides the conference Ivanka also took part in two panels at the women-focused symposium, during her 36 hours in city. The US president’s 36-year-old daughter and a senior adviser to her father. She attended the GES on the invitation of Indian PM Modi, an offer extended to her last summer when he visited the White House. The location of the summit was announced a year prior in a joint statement between former President Barack Obama and Modi during a June 2016 trip to Washington. During her short stay, the city underwent a transformation in areas that Ivanka was expected to pass through. And in a surprise move the beggars were rounded up from the streets and displaced. Trees were painted and planted along the medians. Roadways were tidied and repaved, all to impress the US president's daughter, Ivanka.

Damani acquires Novotel Imagica

The founder of supermarket chain DMart, Radhakishan Damani, has completed the formalities for acquiring Novotel Imagica Khopoli, a five-star luxury hotel located in a theme park off the Mumbai- Pune expressway, from Adlabs Entertainment Ltd. Talking about the move Manmohan Shetty, Chairman of Adlabs said, “We have signed a term sheet with them. We are going through the process. Theme park Imagica is the project. Within that project, only the hotel has been sold to reduce our debt”. The deal, which had been on for some time, has been completed, people familiar with the development said. The acquisition was made by Damani’s unit Bright Star Investments. Damani couldn’t be reached for comment. However, the transaction or the value is yet to be disclosed. The sale of Novotel Imagica Khopoli and land measuring 8.9 acres for `212 crore was approved by the Adlabs board in November to help reduce debt, the company said in a presentation to investors this month. The 287-room hotel managed by Accor is located within the Adlabs Imagica Theme Park, which houses rides and attractions, restaurants, besides water and snow parks.

Opportunities abound at home: Vikas Khanna

Master chef, author, TV host, filmmaker Vikas Khanna is of the opinion that chefs in India have a unique opportunity. “In America, as a brown person I cannot serve Korean food because the best Korean chef is already there. But in our country, an Indian can be serving pizza and no one will question him. And that makes a big difference,” says Khanna whose first claim to fame was his New York restaurant ‘Junoon’. After having worked with various hospitality brands in the country, Khanna set up shop in Manhattan in 2010. Little did he know then that ‘Junoon’ would soon change the way Indian food was perceived, not just in New York, but across the globe. The restaurant won the prestigious Michelin star the year it opened, and every year since. Elaborating on the difference between the culinary scene in India and America, Khanna says that “the food scenario at home is extremely diversified”. But, with years of experience behind him, he says he has now started to understand the attitude towards eating out in America.

The man who solemnised Virat-Anushka wedding

The Punjabi Brahmin priest who manages his own temple in Italy solemnised the wedding of cricketer Virat Kohli and actress Anushka Sharma at a resort. Pawan Kumar Kaushal, who belongs to a nondescript village, Sandhu Chatha in Punjab’s Kapurthala district, felt like he was the ‘man of the match’ as he officiated at the one-and-a-half-day wedding. The 46-year-old Kaushal has been living in Italy for the past 25 years. Kaushal, like the rest of the Indians, was unaware that the wedding he had been booked to perform in Tuscany was that of the Indian celebrity couple. He was informed about the identity of his clients when he was on his way to the venue. “I had to drive 400 km from my home for the wedding ceremony. It was revealed that Virat and Anushka had responded emotionally to the phera ceremony and the seven vows made by the bride and the groom to complete the wedding rituals. The priest admits his celebrity assignment has made him a recognisable face and has earned him a lot of appreciation as well as criticism. Kaushal’s selection as the main priest has become talk of the town among the tiny community of Indian priests in Italy. Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli and Bollywood actress Anushka Sharma, India’s most watched couple, sealed their relationship with a wedding, here amidst close family and friends.

Cognizant’s gesture across the globe

Cognizant has successfully completed 10 years of its employee volunteering programme, Outreach. During these years, it has been able to bring a change in the lives of more than 4,50,000 people. More than 1,00,000 Cognizant employees volunteered in this initiative and completed two million hours of volunteering across 20 countries, making an impact in the areas of education, community welfare and environment. The initiative is designed and derived by employees who seek to make a difference in the lives of people. Cognizant provides financial and administrative support to run this initiative. The programme aims to alleviate disparities in educational access and provide equal opportunity to all students. In India, Outreach has partnered with more than 169 schools—government and government–aided—in urban and rural areas to conduct additional classroom sessions in science, computing, mathematics, English and other subjects. The volunteers under this initiative teach nearly 100 classroom sessions in India every week.

Happiness Assistance, 24/7

In a bid to get employees closer to its employers, CARS24 has opened a new leaf in the employee- employer relation in an attempt to assist its employees in all walks of life including their personnel problems. “Each one of us faces situations which puts us under stress, and impacts us even at the workplace. It could be the smallest of things but to feel relieved, all we need to do is speak up, open up our hearts to someone who is not judgemental about us, understands us and can help us overcome the situation well,” said Vikram Chopra, CEO, CARS24 of the firm who are the first to make a move in this direction. Most of the firms have been of the belief that looking after the employees’ well-being is only confined to the official working hours, leaving the employees to take care of themselves soon after they leave the premises of the firm, which has not helped employees give their best at work. Chopra is of the belief that a happy employee will give three times more output than a not-sohappy one. According to him, only two things matter for good talent—skill and will. “If one does not have a strong will, any skill won’t matter, whereas, if one has true will, any skill can be learnt.” As such, CARS24 with just 600-odd employees has made the first move. As part of the initiative, employees of CARS24 can seek professional assistance for various issues, including couple and marital issues, personal and emotional difficulties, death and bereavement issues, family and parenting concerns, stress, anxiety, depression and substance misuse. Employees facing any such issue(s) may call up a counsellor and seek help, without revealing their identity. Elaborating on the move, Chopra went on to say: “We believe in taking care of our employees as they are the central pillars of our company. A healthy mind results in better productivity at the workplace and consulting with a professional provides an opportunity to deal with personal or work-related challenges.”

The sky is the limit for Anny

She has never once been a passenger on a plane until she learned to fly one, and today Anny Divya becomes the youngest woman pilot of the world’s largest twin jet. This 30-year-old is the youngest-ever female commander of a Boeing 777. She was 17 years old and she had to learn English when she started her training. Coming from a very humble background, this South India (Vijayawada) lass couldn’t afford to travel in planes. It was her mother who told her to become a pilot and she lived up to the dreams. She attended the flying school at the Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Akademi when she was just 17, earning herself a scholarship and completing her training at 19 and moved to Mumbai, where she landed a job at Air India. It was a tough call for her—she had to leave her parents and get out of her comfort zone. And most importantly, learning English and communicating skills was a struggle. But time and perseverance taught her everything. Then there was no turning back as she gradually climbed the ranks at Air India, eventually completing advanced training in London where she first flew a Boeing 777. She has been outstanding in maths and physics and excelled in good motor skills, situational awareness, communication skills and multitasking. Now Anny flies 70 to 80 hours per month and wearing the uniform is a matter of pride for her.

Kharola to head Air India

Much before the fate of a privatised Air India was decided, a new chairman and managing director has been appointed, with senior IAS officer Pradeep Singh Kharola making it to the helm. Kharola replaces Rajiv Bansal, who was made interim AI chief this August for three months when incumbent Ashwani Lohani was moved to Railway Board as chairman. A 1985 IAS officer of the Karnataka cadre, Kharola is currently Bengaluru Metro Rail Corporation MD. Bansal, additional secretary and financial advisor in the ministry of petroleum and natural gas, was given additional charge as AI chief for three months. Kharola will be full-time chief and will oversee the transition of AI from a state-owned airline to a private entity if the government’s plan to privatise the Maharaja takes off before the next elections. The change of guard at the helm of Air India also comes at a time when the government is in the process of finalising the modalities of the strategic disinvestment of the national carrier. Bansal, a Nagaland-cadre IAS officer had served as a director in the civil aviation ministry and played a crucial role as a board member of the National Aviation Company of India Ltd (NACIL). Bansal has also served as the board member of the Alliance Air, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Air India. He is a civil engineer by profession and graduated from IIT Delhi in 1986. Pradeep Singh Kharola hails from Dehradun, Uttarakhand.

Ajay Pandey joins L&T finance

Ajay Pandey has joined the HR leadership team at L&T Finance Holdings. Headed by Dinanath Dubhashi, MD & CEO at L&T Finance Holdings, the company is looking at strategic restructuring and hiring, and taking on Pandey is a significant move towards strengthening the HR function. Pandey had quit IDFC Bank as the Senior Director-HR in his previous assignment. L&T Finance has undergone a huge turnaround under the able leadership of Dubhashi, and as it is looking at yet another leap, strengthening the HR team could come in handy. Pandey shares that his decision to join L&T Finance is based on the fact that he saw a tremendous opportunity to partner with the business. A seasoned HR professional, he said that the larger opportunity to partner with business as an HR leader at L&T is what pulled me in,” he said. With over 30 years of experience, including over 21 years in the banking, BPO, life sciences industries and nine years in the Indian Air Force, Pandey carries a wide array of experience. He had joined IDFC Bank in November 2015, prior to which he was associated with ICICI Bank for over a decade, where he joined as the head of HR for customer service and phone banking groups, in December 2005. Pandey is a postgraduate in human resources management from the Somaiya Institute of Management Studies and Research, and started his career with the Indian Airforce’s Technical Branch in 1984.

SoftBank’s Misra joins Paytm board

Kabir Misra, the former SoftBank Group International MD has been appointed as an additional director to the board of One97 Communications, which runs Paytm. SoftBank had infused $1.4 billion into Paytm earlier this year and is also in talks to back Paytm Mall, according to the company’s online marketplace. Soft- Bank had recently infused ` 9,079 crore ($1.4 billion) in One97 Communications Ltd, which runs India’s leading digital wallet, Paytm. It is also expected to invest 1,932 crore rupees ($300 million) in online marketplace Paytm Mall so it is no surprise that SoftBank was rewarded with a board seat. An e-commerce veteran, Kabir Misra also serves as a board member of another leading e-commerce firm, Snapdeal. He was also instrumental in SoftBank’s investments in Alibaba, Tokopedia and South Korean firm, Coupang. The One97 communications board will now comprise of Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder & CEO of One97, Ravi Adusumalli of SAIF, Jing Xiandong (Eric) of Ant Financial Services Group, Neeraj Arora, Amit Singhal, Mark Schwartz and Kabir Misra. Kabir Misra serves as the Chief Executive Officer and President of SoftBank China & India Holdings.

by Joe Williams