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Profile: Azim Hasham Premji
Azim Hasham Premji, chairman, Wipro Corporation, a pioneer of the Indian InfoTech industry is one of the most distinguished leaders of corporate India. Azim Premji is one of the world's most successful businessmen, regarded as an Indian Bill Gates after transforming his father's vegetable products company, Wipro, into a multi national computer giant, the company under the flag of his leadership never failed to deliver its best. A personality revered by all the software professionals and an icon to the aspiring youth of the country, who has never failed to inspire the young entrepreneurs. Azim Premji was rated the richest person in the country from 1999 to 2005 as per Forbes. His wealth in 2006 was estimated at US$14.8 Billion which places him as the fifth richest Indian.
Premji¶s father Hussein Khalil was born to M.H.Hasham Premji. His grandfather was the rice king of Burma. His father had declined an invitation from M.A.Jinnah to go to Pakistan. Premji was born in Bombay on July 24, 1945, British India, to a Gujarati Muslim family. His father M. H. Premji owned the Western India Vegetable Product Company (which later became Wipro Ltd.) which made hydrogenated vegetable oils and fats. While he completed his initial education at St. Mary's School, Mumbai, Premji was forced to leave his studies in computer science from Stanford University, California, USA at the age of 21 when his father suddenly passed away in 1966. He immediately returned to India where he took over the family's fledgling vegetable oil business, Western Indian Vegetable Products Limited (now called Wipro). Premji started off with a simple vision: to build an organization on a foundation of values. He after a gap of over thirty years eventually received permission to take correspondence art courses to complete the requirements for his bachelor¶s degree in Electrical Engineering.
Family & Personal Life:
Personally, Premji is known for his humility and helping mentality. Easily one of the richest men in the world, he always travels in economy class. Premji drives a Toyota Corolla and prefers to stay in company guest houses rather than luxury hotels and even served food on paper plates at a lunch honoring his son's wedding. One of his favorite recreational activities is hiking. He leads a quiet life with his wife Yasmin Premji who had worked for µInside Outside¶ (editorial) in
Mumbai and his two sons in a simple, but elegant villa in Bangalore. The elder son, Rishad, works in the USA for GE and the younger one, Tariq, has co-founded a dotcom and works from Bangalore. Mr. Premji who holds 78% stakes in the company does not believe in naming one of his sons as his successor just for the norms. He is an absolute workaholic and according to him work is the only way to success and survival in a competitive environment. A tough employer, he expects his employees to be competent and will not tolerate lies or deception from anyone. A man of principles and ethics, Azim Premji has never compromised with the quality and level of commitment to his work. He is informed of all the officials working for his company who respect and revere their employer for the strength of his character. 'Don't do anything that you're unwilling to have published in tomorrow's newspaper with your photograph next to it' -is the slogan of his company with which it has reached the zenith of success and fame. Other vital Statistics include: First job: general manager at Western India Vegetable Products Salary: £180,000 including bonus, plus £59m in dividends. His private vehicle Premji Invest controls £600m of investments elsewhere. Homes: Bangalore and Mumbai Car: silver Toyota Corolla Film: Slumdog Millionaire Music: Hindi vocal music Book: The Enchantress of Florence, by Salman Rushdie Gadget: ³My Garmin personal GPS, useful for when I go trekking in the forest. I¶ve got lost five times.´ Last holiday: southern India
Wipro¶s Growth under Azim Premji:
Azim Premji took over the reins of family business in 1966 at the age of 21.At the first annual general meeting of the company attended by Azim Premji, a shareholder doubted Premji's ability to handle business at such a young age and publicly advised him to sell his shareholding and give it to a more mature management. This spurred Azim Premji and made him all the more determined to make Wipro a success story. And the rest is history. Under Premji¶s leadership Wipro embarked on an ambitious phase of expansion and diversification. The Company began manufacturing light bulbs with General Electric and other consumer products including soaps, baby care products, shampoos, powder etc. In 1975, Wipro Fluid Power business unit manufacturing hydraulic cylinders and truck tippers was started. But Premji¶s ambitions did not stop there. In the 1980s Wipro entered the IT field, taking advantage of the expulsion of IBM from the Indian market in 1975. Thus, Wipro became involved in manufacturing computer hardware, software development and related items, under a special license from Sentinel. As a result, the $1.5 million company in hydrogenated cooking fats grew within a few years to a $662 million diversified, integrated corporation in services, medical systems, technology products and consumer items with offices worldwide and became pioneer in providing integrated business, technology and process solutions on a global delivery platform. Today, Wipro Technologies is the largest independent R&D service provider in the world. The company¶s IT division became the world¶s first to win SEI CMM level 5 and PCMM Level 5 (People Capability Maturity Model) certification, the latest in quality standards. A large percentage of the company¶s revenues are generated by the IT division. Wipro works with leading global companies, such as Alcatel, Nokia, Cisco and Nortel and has a joint venture in Medical Systems with General Electric Company.
Wipro Technologies deals in following businesses:
IT Services: Wipro provides complete range of IT Services to the organization. The range of services extends from Enterprise Application Services (CRM, ERP, eProcurement and SCM) to e-Business solutions. Wipro's enterprise solutions serve a host of industries such as Energy and Utilities, Finance, Telecom, and Media and Entertainment.
Product Engineering Solutions: Wipro is the largest independent provider of R&D services in the world.
Technology Infrastructure Service: Wipro's Technology Infrastructure Services (TIS) is the largest Indian IT infrastructure service provider in terms of revenue, people and customers with more than 200 customers in US, Europe, Japan and over 650 customers in India.
Business Process Outsourcing: Wipro provides business process outsourcing services in areas Finance & Accounting, Procurement, HR Services, Loyalty Services and Knowledge Services.
Consulting Services: Wipro offers services in Business Consulting, Process Consulting, Quality Consulting, and Technology Consulting.
Wipro's Sister Concerns (Business Units):
Wipro Infrastructure Engineering: It has emerged as the leader in the hydraulic cylinders and truck tipping systems market in India.
Wipro InfoTech: It is one of the leading manufacturers of computer hardware and a provider of systems integration and infrastructure services in India. Wipro InfoTech is more focused on the manpower services and is not at the cutting edge of technology.
Wipro Lighting: It manufactures and markets the Wipro brand of luminaries. Wipro Lighting offers lighting solutions across various application areas such as commercial lighting for modern work spaces, manufacturing and pharmaceutical companies, designer petrol pumps and outdoor architecture.
Contribution to Leadership Qualities:
A role model for young entrepreneurs across the world, Mr.Azim Premji has integrated the country's entrepreneurial tradition with professional management, based on sound values and uncompromising integrity. Mr.Azim Premji's strength lies in bringing together and building charged teams of high potential-high performing people. His vision and pragmatism have helped Wipro Corporation to become the #2 most competitive and successful company in India as rated by Business Today, a leading business magazine in India Today, Wipro in terms of market capitalization is among the top 10 Corporations in India. Mr. Premji very strongly believes that the most important contributors to Wipro's success have been the articulations and faithful adherence to core values, a shared vision for the future, identification and development of Wipro leaders through clearly defined Wipro Leaders' Qualities. A hands-on business leader with standards of excellence in everything that the Corporation does, Mr. Premji is almost fanatical about delivering value to customers and his willingness to sacrifice business and profits to hold on to "Our Promise". Mr. Premji was the Prime drive behind Wipro's decision to achieve "Six Sigma" status in the next six years. In his address to the top management of Wipro Corporation on May 2. 1997, he said, "The end objective of our 'customer-in' concept is that we want to build the voice of the customer in our products and services. This is opposite to the concept of 'product-out', which is the way the world has been operating for some time." In this journey of achieving the near defect-free products and services, Mr. Premji is very clear that as a world class organization, what Wipro needs to be concerned about is the process, not merely the results. Premji firmly believes that ordinary people are capable of extraordinary things. He believes that the key to this is creating highly charged teams. He takes a personal interest in developing teams and leaders. He invests significant time as a faculty in Wipro¶s leadership development programs.
Contribution to Society:
Azim Premji has contributed a lot to the development of the country. In the year 2001, Premji established Azim Premji Foundation, a not-for-profit organization with a vision of influencing the lives of millions of children in India by facilitating the universalisation of elementary education. This means every child is in school and learning. The financial resources to this
foundation have been personally contributed by Premji. The current programs of the Azim Premji Foundation cover over 5000 rural schools. The financial resources to this foundation have been personally contributed by Premji. The current programs of the Azim Premji Foundation engage 1.8 million children under various programmes. Azim Premji Foundation aims at making a tangible impact on key social issues by working in active partnership with government and other relevant sections of the society. The foundation has a dream of contributing to the future of India by transforming the lives of millions of children over the next decade, through universalisation of elementary education. Objectives: The overall objective of Azim Premji Foundation is achieving universalisation of elementary education in the country. More specifically, this would imply the following: - Enrol and integrate every out-of-school child into formal school or alternate education in a time-bound manner - Facilitate improvement in the quality of learning in school - Facilitate elimination of all forms of child labour that are oppressive in nature and are detrimental to the child¶s health, education and development. Develop greater community ownership in elementary education. Azim Premji Foundation says it "Aims at making a tangible impact on identified social issues by working in active partnership with the Government and other related sections of the society". It believes that "Education is the vital element in the development and progress of our nation".
Honours and Awards:
Premji has been recognized by Business Week as one of the Greatest Entrepreneurs of All Time for his vision and leadership that has been responsible for Wipro emerging as one of the world¶s fastest growing companies. y In 2000, he was conferred an honorary doctorate by the Manipal Academy of Higher Education. y Asia week magazine, voted Premji among the 20 most powerful men in the world in year 2000. y y He was also declared the Businessman of the Year 2000 by Business India. Azim Premji was among the 50 richest people in the world from 2001 to 2003 listed by Forbes.
One of the 25 most powerful business leaders outside the USA' and ³power to effect change´ by Fortune in the year 2003.
In April 2004, Times Magazine rated him among the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine.
In 2005, he was honoured by the Government of India with a Padma Bhushan, the thirdhighest civilian award in India.
Azim Premji is the first person in India who received the 'Faraday Medal' in the year 2005.
Azim Premji has featured in the Business Weeks all-time top 30 entrepreneurs of the world in 2007.
As on October 6, 2007, he was the 5th richest Indian, with a net worth of $13.6 billion. He was awarded a Doctor of Letters (D.Litt.), an honorary degree, from the Aligarh Muslim University on the 18th of June, 2008 on the occasion of 58th Convocation Ceremony of the University.
The Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee and the Manipal Academy of Higher Education have both conferred honorary doctorates on him.
He is member of the Prime Minister's Advisory Committee for Information Technology in India.
Premji¶s story of success and prominence clearly shows how determination and perseverance, when coupled with knowledge, clear vision and proper planning, enable one to reach the peak of success and leadership. Premji¶s life gives us many valuable lessons like his own eight steps to excellences which are: The first thing is that we must always begin with our strengths. That is because it is only our strengths that can give us the energy to correct our weaknesses. The second lesson is that a rupee earned is of far more value than five found. In fact, what is gifted or inherited follows the old rule of 'easy come, easy go'. We only know the value of what we have if we have struggled to earn it.
The third lesson is no one bats a hundred every time. Life has many challenges. You win some, you lose some. And if you do encounter failure along the way accept it, look at your own share in the problem, learn from it and move on. The important thing is, when you lose, do not lose the lesson. The fourth lesson is the importance of humility. Sometimes, when you get so much in life, you really start wondering whether you deserve all of it. This brings me to the value of gratitude. We should always show gratitude. The fifth lesson is that we must always strive for excellence. One way of achieving excellence is by looking at those better than ourselves. Keep learning what they do differently. Emulate it. The sixth lesson is never give up in the face of adversity. The seventh lesson is that while you must be open to change, do not compromise on your values. Values like honesty, integrity, consideration and humility have survived for generations. And the final lesson is that we must have faith in our own ideas even if everyone tells us that we are wrong. These lessons, in a way, sum up the life of Azim Hasham Premji who single handily changed the fortunes of Wipro. What I take from Premji¶s life and achievement is, besides above eight lessons, to achieve success of this proportion you need to have discipline and a high level of peservance, which is very much signified in his thought below: "You should dare to dream, define what you stand for, never lose your zest and your curiosity, always strive for excellence, build self confidence, learn to work in teams, take care of yourself, preserve, have a broader social vision and finally never let success go to your head" Azim Premji.
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