The legendary founder of Wipro Limited will step down from his position in July after building the company over a period of five decades. Azim Premji will be relinquishing his executive functions as the chairman and managing director, but he will still be on the board as director and founder chairman. His position in the company will be replaced by his eldest son Rishad Premji, who is already a board member. Rishad will take up the role of chairman while the current CEO Abidali Neemuchwala will take up the role of managing director.
Azim Premji's life and work went well beyond Wipro. Premji could be called the Bill Gates of India. He is one of the most liberal donors among industrialists in India, as per reports. The Azim Premji Foundation was pledged 34 percent of Wipro’s shares earlier this year. The foundation is an initiative by Premji to promote education. “It has been a long and satisfying journey for me. As I look into the future, I plan to devote more time to focus on our philanthropic activities,” Premji was quoted as saying by media reports.
Wipro started its operations before India gained her independence. However, at that time it wasn’t focused on software and was known as Western India Vegetable Products Ltd. The company was started by Mohammed Premji as a manufacturer of vegetable and refined oils. In 1966, Mohammed Premji passed away, forcing Azim to drop out of Stanford University and take charge at 21. Western India Vegetable Products Ltd began to sell bakery fats, soaps, baby toiletries, lighting products and other consumer items as Azim started to diversify the business.
The new member of the board realised the importance of technology and capitalised on setting up the IT industry when the presence of IBM in India started to dwindle. It was around this time that the company’s name was changed to Wipro. Eventually, the software services emerged to one of Wipro’s biggest strengths. Under Premji’s leadership, Wipro Enterprises – a venture that includes the consumer goods, engineering and other businesses – shared a revenue report of $2 billion.
Azim is currently the second richest person in India, and in 2005, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the Indian government. In 2017, Azim was awarded the Padma Vibhushan – the second highest civilian award in India. The changes to Wipro’s management will take effect from July 31. Read More