Azim Premji is the second wealthiest Indian with a net worth of $18.8 billion. Being that, Premji is not all about money. The Robin Hood businessman, who serves as chairman of Wipro, administered the company through 40 years of expansion to arise as a world leader in the software industry. In spite of that, he is more of a people-minded person rather than a money-minded one. Premji is an inspiration to millions of entrepreneurs, especially because of the way in which he shaped his company from FMCG to IT.
Wipro was started as Western India Vegetable Products as a manufacturer of hydrogenated cooking fats in 1945 by Mohamed Premji, Azim Premji’s father. Azim Premji was pursuing his engineering at Stanford University, when his father passed away suddenly in 1966. Premji returned to India to take over the family business. He took charge and instantly began to expand the company into consumer products, from soaps to hydraulic cylinders. That’s also when he renamed the company Wipro.
Premji has always known where his company’s strengths lie. So, when the Indian government asked IBM to leave the country in 1979, Premji began to get his company focused on the computer business, already seeing far into the future of software. Keeping faith in his ideas, Premji was determined on developing custom software for export. He also believed in the power of teamwork and hired the best people, exposed them to quality training and turned to India’s massive amount of well-educated software developers to work with. He created an environment of aiming for top quality in business operations.
One of the many reasons that Premji is looked up to is for his philanthropy. He has given away 25% of his wealth as part of the Giving Pledge, which includes 8.7% of his Wipro stock, which will be used for educational purposes. Staying grounded and sticking to his values, Premji also founded the Azim Premji Foundation, a non-profit organisation in 2001, which works towards cultivating primary education in India. In fact, the foundation also established the Azim Premji University in 2010, which was founded with one goal–to bring about proficient and devoted professionals for the social sector, who can make a significant contribution to a viable society. The university recently also held its sixth convocation this year.
Premji has always believed that people are the key to success or extraordinary success. That the test of our humanity is how we treat the most powerless of our fellow citizens – and that is what reveals our culture. “Basic honesty, hard work and perseverance are the three ordinary things that we often don’t pay enough attention to, but which I believe are the drivers of all success,” he says. It’s no wonder then why almost every entrepreneur looks up to Premji, making him the rockstar of entrepreneurs in India.