NIIT inducts promoters' children Udai Pawar, Leher Thadani to board; adds two new directors


Skills and talent development company NIIT Limited on Friday announced the expansion of its board with four new members, including promoters’ children Udai S Pawar and Leher V Thadani. The move marks succession planning by promoters with their children – Udai S Pawar and Leher V Thadani – on the board, even as they emphasised that the two new faces are not joining in a management capacity.

The company said the expansion of the board, including elevation of CEO Sapnesh Lalla to the board, is aimed at strengthening the organisation.

“They’re (Udai and Leher) joining the board, not management. We’ve had that explicit articulation of the approach of our company, so it represents succession…But yes…We, as promoters, have to look at our own, should we say succession of personal entities as well,” Rajendra S Pawar said in a virtual briefing.

Udai Pawar is son of Non-executive Chairman (and promoter) Rajendra Singh Pawar, while Leher is daughter of Vijay K Thadani, Vice Chairman and Managing Director (and promoter) of the company.

The appointments shall be effective from the date of approval by shareholders at the forthcoming AGM, the company said.

The board has also announced the addition of two Independent Directors – Sangita Singh and Avani Davda. They will join the company with effect from June 5, 2021 as additional directors till the forthcoming AGM when their appointments will be taken up for approval by the shareholders.

Singh has over three decades of global business-to-business experience at Wipro, Infosys and IBM, while Davda has two decades of experience in Consumer Retail and business leadership at the Tata group, including in the role of CEO of the Tata-Starbucks JV.

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Rajendra Pawar said additions to the board as well building succession is important because many board members, over the years will come up for change, and so the company has to keep adding to the Board and bring in more members.

“There is a diversity objective (as well) from many dimensions. We are looking at diversity in terms of geographies, people with international experience etc. We’re looking at the diversity of background of (experience from) large companies, retail experience…so that enriches the culture of the organisation,” he said.

Pawar added that the expansion has also brought in gender diversity as well as representation from different age groups.

Notably, over the past few years, promoters of various IT companies have carved out succession plans for the next generation. In 2019, Wipro had announced Azim Premji will retire as executive chairman of Wipro and his son Rishad – who was serving as chief strategy officer and a board member at that time – took over as the executive chairman of the company.

Last year, Roshni Nadar Malhotra became the first woman to head a listed Indian IT company as she took over as the Chairperson of USD 8.9 billion HCL Technologies from her father and billionaire, Shiv Nadar.

NIIT’s Rajendra Pawar said the elevation of Sapnesh Lalla – CEO of the firm – to the board represents a member of the management team coming to the board.

“The important thing is to build perpetuity for a company which has been around for 41 years. And so, there is a strengthening of the board from a governance point of view, and a strengthening of the management team, which is happening,” he said.

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It represents the beginning of a succession process, Pawar said, for the founders in terms of their own entities and “the role of the generation shift, whenever that has to happen or will happen”.

“But the management team continues to be active as it is and it’s getting strengthened,” Pawar said.

An IIT Kanpur graduate, Udai Singh Pawar has professional experience of over 15 years. After his stint at Microsoft Research Lab in Bangalore focusing on Technology for Education, he moved into film-making. With his interest in inter- disciplinary technology and art, Udai is also investing in some startups, while he works on his future film projects, focusing on Over-the-Top (OTT) platforms.

Leher Vijay Thadani has over 10 years of professional experience after completing her MBA from George Washington University. Her experience in reputation management, public affairs, management consulting and communications spans a variety of sectors including technology, food and beverage, energy, automotive, chemicals and government.

In a separate regulatory filing, NIIT said the board of directors of NIIT USA and Eagle have approved the merger of Eagle with NIIT USA with effect from July 1, 2021 in accordance with the applicable laws.

The rationale for the amalgamation is to “strengthen NIIT’s Life Sciences Practice, and further integrate go-to-market and account management across common customers that is expected to help convert more Eagle customers into MTS customers while increasing share of wallet of amalgamated company.

It will also help optimise resources to improve operational efficiency, and reduce complexity and simplify entity structure for reduction in administrative overheads, given ongoing integration activities.

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The merger will be effective from July 1, 2021, the filing said.

NIIT (USA) Inc (amalgamated company) is a wholly owned direct subsidiary of NIIT Ltd and had a revenue of USD 59.09 million for the financial year ended March 31, 2021.

Eagle International Institute, Inc, USA (amalgamating company) is a wholly owned direct subsidiary of NIIT (USA) Inc and had a revenue of USD 7.71 million for the fiscal ended March 31, 2021.



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