“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”
These words of Albert Einstein depict the successful voyage of the entrepreneur who dropped out of Stanford and built a $1.36 billion profit company (consolidated as of March 2015). This then young boy all of 21, envisioned and transformed the $2 million hydrogenated cooking fat company, Western Indian Vegetable Products [NSE:WIPRO], into India’s third-largest outsourcer and consumer focused retail and software giant, generating a whopping $7.5 billion in revenue last financial. With a net worth of $16.9 billion, Azim Premji is a visionary enterpriser who has dramatically reshaped the way people live, work or think and has risen to become the 3rd richest man in India and among the top 50 Billionaires of the world today.
Date Of Birth: July 24, 1945
Net Worth: $16.9 billion
As an enthusiastic capitalist in the early age of 21 years in 1966 he took over the family business following a sudden demise of his father M.H. Hasham Premji. Born into a Nizam Ismaili Shia Muslim family, by virtue of the family’s culture, he developed a deep insight into business, ethics and values. With these values and ethics he outshone his peer groups by motivating and driving the best out of his employees to achieve utmost efficiency.
The foresight of the futurist is commendable. He speculated the void left behind by the eviction of IBM in the early years of liberalization (1990s) in the country and developed the technical variant of his venture, moving from only a FMCG company into software group diversifying operations into IT, BPO, and R&D Services. Though, Wipro started off building computer hardware, the firm made huge profits out of software development soon.
To grace the birthday occasion of this visionary, here are some interesting and lesser known facts about him as a forerunner of Wipro and an outstanding philanthropist:
- In the early days of his business, some of the shareholders of the company were suspicious about the ability of the young boy to lead the business and he was advised publicly to sell his part of shares to a developed organization. But, the stakeholders little did imagine the move of a young boy to transform the Vegetable Oil Company into the software giant it is today.
- Premji believes business organizations can be used as a tool to actively engage in fundamental activities of the society to eliminate the issues rattling the society as part of their social responsibility. He perceived education to be the forerunner and an educated society as an opportunistic society and hence backed the cause with required aid through his not for profit organisation Azim Premji University.
- As an organization Wipro always have followed the footsteps of the eminent leader to enhance the quality of education and to help flow it through all the levels is evident in the contributions of the association. Some of them being are “Wipro Applying Thought in Schools” in India while “Wipro STEM Fellowships” in the US propagate quality education. “Wipro Cares” aims at engaging the local community to pursue education. The firm does not stop here, but also indulge in “Mission 10X” aiming at superior engineering education. The innovation when used as means to impart education gives rise to inventions, a single PC employing three display terminals and three input devices (keyboard and mouse) yet operates as three independent devices simultaneously in one of the schools sponsored through his not profit organization is an amazing thing to be unveiled.
- The renowned educationist have come up with an initiative “People and Ideas,” through the duo Azim Premji Foundation and Azim Premji University to encounter the great minds in various fields to get insights and to develop philosophy and vision. To honour his thought in 2000, the Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Indian Institute of Technology, Roorke , Visveswaraya Technological University, and Aligarh University conferred honorary doctorate to Azim Premji as an appreciation for his contribution to trade and industry, and extraordinary commitment.
- His keen interest in development and upliftment of the society gave birth to Azim Premji Foundation, a non-profit organization in 2001. The organization aims at the betterment of society. Premji is the first Indian to take up the Giving pledge to cater the donations out of his wealth for charitable causes. As a reward for the dedicated service of the foundation, the founder was named ‘Corporate Citizen Of The Year’. Forbes India honored him with its inaugural “Outstanding Philanthropist of the Year” in November 2012 to honor his charitable activities and for retaining them as an integral part of his life.
- In October 2003, he was featured on the cover of the Business Week with a title ‘India’s Tech King’, as Wipro was leading the race under his guidance. His non-negotiable nature combines integrity with quality to make Wipro the first organization in the world to attain PCMM (People Capability Maturity Model) level 5 accreditation, making him the business tycoon nevertheless.
- Azim Premji is the first Indian recipient of Faraday Medal from Wesleyan University in 2005 and this was awarded to him to commemorate his remarkable industrial achievement. Attributing his outstanding work in trade and commerce, Government of India conferred ‘Padma Bhushan’, the third highest civilian award in 2005.
- With many things to organize and with the responsibility of leading a huge organization, this workaholic, seldom takes breaks. As part of the competitive world, he claims work as the only key to survival and success. The leader serves as a tough employer and expects employee to be competent enough, thanks to his firm belief that “ordinary people are capable of extraordinary things”.
- Azim Premji faith in his own words “excellence endures and sustains”, seems to be the befitting self-motivator for his many achievements. His desire for success and commitment got him prestigious awards and recognition in India and worldwide. One among them being ‘Padma Vibhushan’, the second highest civilian award which was conferred on him in 2011.
- Once again his effort to make the society a better place to live in was appreciated by Asian Business Leader Award by Asia House, UK in 2013. The impressive business credentials and motivating the society and driving the people towards success are the key factors contributed for this honour.
- Besides being a technical man with lots of awards, sobriquets, and accolades to his credit, the man leads an ascetic life and keeps away from luxury by choice. Till date he prefers traveling in economy class and have adapted to his Toyota Corolla for local commutation. The businessman does not shy away from hiring an auto rickshaw to reach the destination on time and does not give up his precious time waiting.
- With about $2.5 billion under his management of family office, Premji has invested in over 60 companies, few of them being the e-commerce organizations Myntra and Snapdeal. Additionally, around 40 to 50 family offices present all over India possess a corpus of about $15-20 billion. Since 2011, PremjiInvest has also extended its hold into USA and the family business aims at diversifying its reach to other countries through extension of investments abroad, with the firm looking for opportunities in China as well.
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He spoke these words in one of the lectures delivered for the IIM Ahmedabad students, whose living example he is and the results of which is largely seen in his corporate endeavours too. These words of Azim Premji signify his brave decision to embrace novelty in both thoughts and actions, while thinking far beyond the expectations of others.
- He has always accredits his success to the Wipro team. As a crown for all his service and dedication he received the ‘Life Time Achievement’ by Economic Times in December 2013. However, his desire for hard work, commitment, and success seems unquenchable and looking at this accolade only through the Wipro prism may be unfair as it accredits his overall achievement apart from his contributions to build India’s third largest software exporter worth Rs. 43,000 crore in 2013.
- Wipro’s success is attributed to the customer satisfaction. However, of late the organization has shifted their focus far ahead from satisfaction. As mere satisfaction aims at making the customer contented and that is the low bar to set and attains least output. Hence, the organization is heading towards a traverse from ‘Customer Satisfaction’ to ‘Customer Centricity’ in 2015 to retain the customers and serve them better.
Azim Premji’s exemplary statesmanship and innovative approach has not just made this septuagenarian the person to look up to for inspiration, his diligent work has also made India and Indians proud of their own country.
We, at DazeInfo, wish him a healthy long life and also wish his coming decades are marvelous opportunities for more innovative iniatives to thrive under his guidance, mentorship and investment and usher in a new era of triumph for India.