Christopher O’Connor (File photo)
BENGALURU: Persistent Systems CEO Christopher O’Connor has resigned from the Pune-based IT firm citing personal reasons. He joined the company barely 18 months ago. O’Connor, in a letter to the board on Sunday, said there was no material reason behind the resignation.
Sandeep Kalra, president of the technology services unit (TSU) at Persistent, is tipped to be the new CEO, sources told TOI.
Prior to this, O’Connor led the internet of things business unit at IBM. His was a case of a customer moving to the vendor company. IBM is Persistent’s top customer, contributing 17% of its revenue. Persistent chairman and MD Anand Deshpande said, “He helped in building out certain capabilities and improved positioning to tap the opportunities, which helped us achieve a good quarter under difficult circumstances.”
Persistent crossed $500 million in revenue and over 11,000 employees last fiscal, after over 30 years of its incorporation. The firm had a subpar performance through much of 2016-19 fiscals, but over the last six quarters, after a leadership revamp, its services business has shown good growth.
Kalra joined Persistent two months after O’Connor and has managed to energise the business, laying emphasis on several sales initiatives. Today, TSU contributes 77% to the firm’s revenue and Persistent’s turnaround is led by the rebound in the TSU business with a 2.9% compounded quarterly growth rate (CQGR) for the last six quarters. Kalra joined Persistent from Harman Connected Services(HCS), a Samsung company, where he was responsible for the global P&L for the digital transformation solutions business unit.
Kalra, industry experts believe, overshadowed other leaders in the firm because of the performance of his division. The IP business has seen headwinds for many quarters.
O’Connor is seen to have carved a distinct identity for Persistent in the minds of customers as a global solutions company through its “digital mosaic strategy” that integrates the “tiles” of cloud-based solutions, tailored to meet client needs. But some analysts pointed out that growing reliance on the IBM ecosystem is an added risk.
In an interview to TOI last week, O’Connor said, “We are doing a lot of digital cloud-oriented work. We don’t work on old legacy codes. IBM asked some of the IT partners to take a 25% cut in what they do, but they didn’t really cut us after they saw the work we do for them.”