Airtel Sacks Group CIO For Code Of Conduct Breach


Top management exits are now no news at Airtel. There is clearly some HR problem in the company. It started with the exit of Amrita Gangotra, Director – Information Technology in November last year. This was followed by Shankar Halder, Chief of Network Operations who decided to quit in December. The most recent one to join this growing list was the company’s Chief Executive Officer – India and South Asia, Sanjay Kapoor. And now it is the Chief Information Officer Jai Menon as per ET reports

Bharti Airtel is the leader in the telecom industry in India. India’s largest and the world’s fourth largest mobile phone operator, commonly known as Airtel, can easily rest on its laurels and afford to be complacent. But reigning at the top in the telecom industry, with margins amongst the lowest worldwide, is no cakewalk. So checks and measures have to be put at every step. This explains why it has sacked Jai Menon, group CIO and the company’s director of global innovation & IT, for alleged code of conduct violations.

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According to people familiar with the development, contracts for third party vendor outsourcing were allegedly given to certain select companies on Menon’s directions. Reportedly, Airtel has launched a full-fledged investigation into the matter.

How was it revealed?

An internal audit revealed that Menon allegedly had financial interest in some of the entities that were awarded contracts.

What the company says?

“During an internal investigation, it was found that Menon had economic interests in some of the companies which were awarded (third party vendor) contracts,” one of people said.

What Jai Menon says?

“In my 40s, I was engaged with telecom, 30s was devoted to IT, when I was based in US and in my 20s, I was doing research in mathematics, so this is part of my plan to pursue research in technology in my 50s. As I turn 50 in January, I have decided to move on after a wonderful and rewarding stint with Bharti. This has been part of my life plan to allow me to get back closer to deep-tech and research – from operations to creative innovation. All other rumours are speculative and baseless,” Menon said in an e-mail. “I hope this puts to rest for good any speculation whatsoever.”

Who is Jai Menon?

Having completed his graduation in mechanical engineering from IIT Delhi, he did his Masters and Doctorate, both in computer science, from the reputed Cornell University in the US. He started his career in March 1992 at IBM’s T. J. Watson Research Labs, before rising up the ranks to become the executive director at the company’s software group. He next did a two-year stint at AT&T, also in the US, rising to the position of executive vice president & corporate officer, product innovation (marketing). He quit the company in 2002 to return to India and join Bharti Airtel.

His contribution to Airtel:

Under his oversight, Bharti Airtel expanded its relationship with International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) after signing a 10-year, $750 million contract that set the trend among phone companies to outsource their non-core processes like software applications and computer hardware networks.

Menon has had a stellar academic as well as a professional career and is considered a pioneer of the model of outsourcing network followed by Bharti Airtel, and then replicated by most in the industry in India and across the world. In his current position, he was responsible for overseeing the entire network operations of the company, which included awarding contracts to various IT companies.

Menon ran Bharti Airtel’s customer service, where he created the outcome-based IT outsourcing model for the company. He was also an architect of the partnerships that Bharti Airtel has with Google Inc. and other technology firms across the world. Before joining Bharti, Menon had filed more than 30 patents.

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