Aruna Jayanthi, CEO, Capgemini India, has her hands full. Capgemini recently acquired IGATE, a US-listed technology and services company with revenues of 10.57 billion euros in 2014, which will make Capgemini's India arm one of the largest MNC IT employers in the country. "We have taken on 23,000 people, in addition to the 62,000 that we had. This has taken our combined strength to 85,000," she says.
"We just got all approvals and clearances," she says. "I am leading the integration work in India." She says she will have a clear vision of how the teams will integrate and what synergies will work best in the next two to three months. "By January, we will start operating as a single company," she says.
For Capgemini, Jayanthi is an ideal fit at this stage. Paul Spence, an ex-colleague who is currently Non-Executive Director, G4S, recalls that Jayanthi could rally her reports, her bosses, her clients and even her peers to find solutions. "It was the X-factor in her management style that made people want to get involved," he says. Spence says Jayanthi is not just a technologist but understands P&L accounts and balance sheets equally well.
Spence, who earlier worked as the CEO of Capgemini Outsourcing Services, has known Jayanthi for more than a decade. He has worked with her from the time she was among the handful of employees at Ernst & Young India to her eventual appointment as the CEO of Capgemini India. Jayanthi had joined Capgemini in early 2000 and was part of the core team that set up Capgemini's offshore capabilities. She is a core member of the company's strategic decision-making, a member of the Group Executive Committee and was also a key member of the team that worked on the IGATE acquisition. "The global M&A team drove the deal. I was involved as it had a big impact on India," she says.
Jayanthi has grown into one of the most powerful leaders in the IT services industry today. She was approached by the Ministry of Human Resource Development for the role of Chairperson of the Board of Governors of National Institute of Technology, Calicut, and assumed charge in November 2014. It's a great opportunity, she says.
Jayanthi feels good that there are so many women leaders in the IT industry. But what makes the industry women-friendly? She says IT is a service industry and so it's easier in the sense you don't have to go through the difficulties of a shop floor. "Also, IT is intensely knowledge-driven. That is the only thing that matters. When growth is there, one needs good people. If opportunities are limited, one can think about whom to pick."
Jayanthi is also a member of the Executive Council of NASSCOM. N. Chandrasekaran, the CEO and Managing Director of Tata Consultancy Services, says Jayanthi is very people-oriented and collaborative. "I have had the pleasure of knowing her as a colleague from my early days at TCS and later through NASSCOM and other industry initiatives. Her insights are always relevant. She is a team player and a consensus builder and has an excellent relationship with all stakeholders."
Jayanthi says the IT industry is at the crossroads. "We can no longer look at IT as merely IT. In the end, it's not about software, hardware or technology. It's about the business value that you bring to a customer. It's about the simplicity of the solution."
On the personal front, too, her hands are full. "I have a young daughter. She has just become a teenager. I unwind automatically when I chat with her." Whenever she gets time, she reads and listens to music. Opera is her current favourite, though she enjoys rock music the most.