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Persistent Systems appoints IBM veteran Chris O’Connor as CEO designate

Persistent Systems appoints IBM veteran Chris O’Connor as CEO designate
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BSE-listed IT firm Persistent Systems has appointed Christopher O’Connor as its CEO designate, a company statement said.

O’Connor, who will join the company later this month, will be based in the US and will take full responsibility over the next three quarters, the statement added.

Anand Deshpande, who founded and has led Persistent Systems since 1990, makes way for a professional chief executive.

This marks a major transition for the 30-year-old company from being run by a founder-promoter to a professionally run firm. While several IT firms in the country are run by professionals, even companies like Infosys have struggled with such a change.

Persistent has most of its workforce in Pune while it has a second headquarters in Santa Clara, California.

Deshpande, a veteran of the Indian IT industry, worked at HP in the US for less than two years after his studies before setting up Persistent. He also one of the founders of software product think tank iSpirt. An alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, Deshpande also has a masters and doctorate in computer science from Indiana University, US.

Persistent had reported consolidated net sales of Rs 3,034 crore during the financial year ending March 2018. It also reported a net profit of Rs 323 core for the same period. The company's shares have fallen by as much as 19% in the last one year period on the Bombay Stock Exchange.

Incoming chief executive O’Connor was previously with IBM, where he has held several roles since joining the firm in 2006, his LinkedIn profile states. He has worked in multiple divisions such as systems management, commerce and financial software and software research and development. He has also founded the IBM Smart Cities software and services business.

His most recent stint was as the head of IBM’s Internet of Things (IoT) business unit.

“With his global exposure, deep knowledge of technology, and vast experience working with large and medium enterprises on their transformation journeys, Chris is ideally suited to lead our company on its next phase of growth. I am working closely with him in transitioning my CEO responsibilities over the next three quarters,” Deshpande said.

An alumnus of Rutgers University, O’Connor holds dual bachelor degrees in electrical engineering and computer science. He also had a brief stint leading R&D for network hardware in the startup community, both exiting and returning to IBM.

“I have been impressed for years by how Persistent has evolved to be a differentiated player by partnering with leaders, by building software assets and by delivering business-critical software for global clients. I look forward to working with the team to create value for our customers, employees and shareholders,” O’Connor said in the statement.

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