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NEW DELHI: Azim Premji, lately India’s second richest man (after Mukesh Ambani) with a wealth of $21-billion, was so embarrassed when he was named by way of Forbes as the rustic’s richest man, back in the heydays of India’s IT services and products — late 90s — that he didn’t take any congratulatory calls. It fell on Ashok Soota, who ran the IT services and products industry that made Premji a billionaire, to talk about his boss and what made him special.

Azim Premji: From cooking oil to tech massive

Azim Premji, who transformed the cooking oil company his father began in 1945 into a $25 billion (Rs 1.8 lakh crore) world IT powerhouse, will retire as govt chairman on July 30.


Many, many things make ‘Azim’, as he’s fondly referred to as by way of his pals, special. Integrity tops the list, modesty comes a close second. His philanthropy, skill to spot a chance, whether or not in industry or other folks, focus, professionalism, the list is lengthy.

He practised company governance ahead of it changed into a trendy jargon. He braved a five-and-half month strike for sacking an worker for submitting fake expenses, in 1984. His closest pals aver that his belief in principles and skill to face by way of them by no means faltered in the 5 many years he ran Wipro and constructed it from a small family-run vegetable oils and soaps industry to the multi-billion buck software-to-soaps enterprise it is as of late.


Anurag Behar, CEO of Azim Premji Foundation (which owns 67% of the commercial passion of Wipro Ltd) says that as a tender engineer 30 years ago, the only reason why he joined Wipro was “because of the popularity Wipro had for uncompromising integrity. In the mid-to-late 80s this was a unusual popularity for a non-public industry to have. After 25 years of being each in front-line functions and in the CEO put up, I will vouch that he has constructed this company with absolute, unwavering integrity.”

Azim Premji, IT’s marathon man, to call it a day after 53 years

Azim Premji, who transformed the cooking oil company his father began in 1945 into a $25 billion (Rs 1.8 lakh crore) IT powerhouse, will retire as govt chairman on July 30. Premji will be succeeded by way of his elder son, Rishad Premji, a Harvard Business School and London School of Economics graduate, who joined the company in 2007.


Premji’s stories of thriftiness are legendary. And so is his giving. He was the primary Indian to sign the Bill Gates and Warren Buffet’s ‘Giving Pledge’ to donate 50% of his wealth in his lifetime.

What doesn’t in an instant pop up when talking of this reticent man is his skill to nurture talent. By one depend, there are over 200 CEOs/CFOs and CXOs among Wipro’s alumni. Many changed into entrepreneurs themselves. Soota went directly to discovered two corporations: MindTree and later, Happiest Minds. Subroto Bagchi and N Krishna Kumar have been the co-founders of Mind-Tree. Suresh Vaswani, a former co-CEO, changed into head of Dell Services, Som Mittal of Digital India.

Rishad Premji has very large sneakers to fill at Wipro

It's son-rise at Wipro. In a transition that was on expected lines and set in movement over a decade ago, Rishad Premji, Azim Premji’s firstborn, will take over as Wipro chairman in July. Premji Jr, the Cathedral boy from Mumbai with a industry level from Harvard Business School, has executed more than one gigs at Wipro.


His perseverance may also be noticed from the truth that whilst he legendarily dropped out of Stanford with a semester left to return to India after the surprising loss of life of his father, he completed his level — a BSE in electric engineering — about 10 years ago.

Dileep Ranjekar, a close associate of Premji’s of over four many years, say there are 3 issues that set him aside: Intensity, professionalism, and middle class values.

“He has this rare intensity to make issues paintings — a single-minded focus to get issues executed as prioritised by way of him or the organisation,” says Ranjekar who was Wipro’s long-time HR head ahead of beginning Premji’s philanthropic tasks and is also CEO of Azim Premji Foundation.


He also says, “I have now not noticed an ownerprofessional like him. In the 43 years I have worked with him he by no means despatched a single recruitment related-recommendation.” Ranjekar adds, “His frugal residing, lack of pomposity and follow of middle-class values had an enormous impact on the organisation’s values.”


Premji’s friendship and contention with N R Narayana Murthy-led Infosys, spurred each corporations and made them the poster boys for Indian tech on the world arena. Murthy, in reality, had met Premji when the latter was looking for someone to head his tech industry. Premji was then occupied with development a hardware industry short of to benefit from IBM’s exit from India. Murthy was clear his calling was IT services and products. The two parted to the good thing about the Indian tech trade as each went onto build multi-billion buck corporations.


When Rishad, Premji’s Wesleyan, Harvard Business School-educated elder son, joined the industry, it was always clear that he can be on the possession monitor at Wipro, headed for the chairman’s workplace, and now not on the govt monitor against a CEO put up. Tariq, his younger son, is involved with Premji’s philanthropic paintings.


His exit from the chairman’s position may give Premji extra time along with his Smith College knowledgeable, author-wife Yasmeen and grand kids, Rohaan and Rhea. But taking into account that he lives on Wipro campus, he will not be too some distance away from the company in body or spirit.

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