Natarajan Chandrasekaran, 45

Natarajan Chandrasekaran, 45

Tata Consultancy Services
Chief Operating Officer

Chandra, as he’s called, has been on the fast track ever since he joined India’s largest IT outsourcer straight out of school 23 years ago. His forte: handling big projects for U.S. clients, building teams from scratch, and establishing long-standing global client relationships. Non-U.S. markets today account for half of the $5.5 billion in revenues of TCS, a unit of the $83 billion Tata Group.

With his global experience and prowess in developing new business opportunities, Chandrasekaran is regarded as the top contender to succeed current CEO Subramanian Ramadorai when he turns 65 in October. Diptarup Chakraborti, IT analyst at Gartner Research (IT), argues that Chandrasekaran deserves the credit for turning TCS into a global heavyweight.

Chandrasekaran says he's less interested in his next career move than in seeing customers through a trying time in the global economy. “Revenue is important, but customer satisfaction is even more crucial,” he says. “I’ve always believed that it's not just what you do but how you do it that’s important.” With his focus on taking on new leadership challenges and importing best practices from multinational clients, headhunters say he's a leader to watch—even beyond the realm of IT.

--by Nandini Lakshman