Azim Premji

Azim Premji - Toolshero

Azim Premji (born July 24, 1945) is an Indian businessman, engineer, investor and philanthropist. He was long the chairman of Wipro Limited and today still serves as a non-executive member of the board of directors. Azim Premji is also known as the czar of the Indian IT industry and was one of the richest people in the world at the beginning of the twentieth century. In 2022, his estimated wealth will be nearly $10 billion, ranking 210 on the list of the richest people in the world.

Biography Azim Premji

Azim Premji was born in present-day Mumbai, India, into a Shia Muslim family. His father was Mohamed Hashem Premji, a well-known businessman and founder of Western Indian Vegetable Products Ltd. The company traded in vegetable products and refined oil.

After graduating from high school in India, Azim Premji went to the United States to study engineering at Stanford University. Shortly before graduating, his father died unexpectedly, after which he returned to India to take charge of the company. This was in 1966, when Azim was only 21 years old. A few years later he would still complete his studies and receive his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering.

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He immediately implemented some major changes in the company, such as diversifying the supply. He also began to delve into consumer products such as soap, light bulbs, shoes and hydraulic products.
As the company no longer only traded plant-based products, Azim renamed the company Wipro in 1977.

Further expansion Wipro

In 1979, the legislation in India changed, causing major western companies such as IBM to leave the country. This also enabled companies from Shiv Nadar, among others, to significantly expand their market share. Azim saw his opportunity and tapped into the emerging computer parts market. Slowly he started to move Wipro into the computer sector.

After several years of successful cooperation with the American Sentinel Computer Corporation, the company also plunged into the software side of the computer world.

Driven by ambition and the search for quality, Azim Premji ensured that the best software engineers in the country were recruited. He gave them world-class training and development opportunities, keeping Wipro at the very top of the industry.

The company was able to achieve this at a low cost, so it started exporting computer parts to the United States as well. The company grew even faster, the value of its shares continued to rise, and Premji quickly became one of the richest businessmen in the world.

Personal life Azim Premji

Azim Premji is married to Yasmeen. Together they have two children: Rishad and Tariq. Rishad is currently Chief Strategy Officer of Wipro.

Despite his immense wealth, Azim remained humble and charitable. This made him a popular figure among the Indian people. In 2001, he founded the non-profit Azim Premji Foundation, through which he invested in the Indian education system. Several years later, the institution had opened more than 16,000 schools.

In 2000, he received an honorary doctorate from the Manipal Academy of Higher Education. In 2009, he received a similar doctorate from Wesleyan University in Connecticut for his philanthropic activities.

He was awarded the Padma Bhushan from the Indian government in 2005 for his contributions to trade and the Indian economy. In 2010, he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest award given to civilians. In 2015, the company was active in 67 countries and was worth $35 billion.

The Giving Pledge

Azim Premji has stated more than once that wealth does not excite him. He was the first Indian to sign up for the Giving Pledge, a campaign led by Warren Buffet and Bill Gates. By signing this pledge, they pledge to give away most of their income to philanthropic causes.

In 2013, he indicated that more than 25 percent of his assets had already been given away. In 2015, he also gave away 18 percent of his stake in Wipro. Other big names on the list of people who have signed the Giving Pledge include: Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and David Rockefeller.

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Azim Premji quotes

  • “A girl child who is even a little bit educated is more conscious of family planning, health care and, in turn, her children’s own education.”
  • “As you get bigger, you have to learn to delegate. It’s also an excellent way to get staff involved in the company’s operations.”
  • “Being in the consumer business helps us groom talent in areas like marketing, finance and logistics. We can benchmark our outsourcing business to our consumer business and its best practices.”
  • “Ecology and economy are becoming inextricably entwined, and the world is becoming more conscious of this fact.”
  • “Excellence can be as strong a uniting force as solid vision.”
  • “Excellence endures and sustains. It goes beyond motivation into the realms of inspiration.”
  • “Excellence is a great starting point for any new organisation but also an unending journey.”
  • “I strongly believe that those of us, who are privileged to have wealth, should contribute significantly to try and create a better world for the millions who are far less privileged.”
  • “I think that any wealth creates a sense of trusteeship… it is characteristic of the new generation which has created wealth to have some amount of responsibility for it.”
  • “I think the advantage of democracy is that it makes us less dependent on a group of leaders.”
  • “I think the most important reason for our success is that very early in our quest into globalisation, we invested in people – and we have done that consistently and particularly in the service business.”
  • “If people are not laughing at your goals, your goals are too small.”
  • “Inflation is taking up the poverty line, and poverty is not just economic but defined by way of health and education.”
  • “Leadership is the self-confidence of working with people smarter than you.”
  • “One of the pre-requisites for children becoming proactive and responsible citizens is the availability of enough role models inside and outside the school.”
  • “People are the key to success or extraordinary success.”
  • “People have to take control of their own lives. Education is key because it also raises other social indicators like healthcare.”
  • “Success is achieved twice. Once in the mind and the second time in the real world.”
  • “The customer is a remarkably selfish person: He takes the relationship to where the execution is in his favor.”
  • “The responsibility of philanthropy rests with us. The wealthier we are, the more powerful we get. We cannot put the entire onus on the government.”
  • “The three ordinary things that we often don’t pay enough attention to, but which I believe are the drivers of all success, are hard work, perseverance, and basic honesty.”
  • “The U.S. is a complex country. It has a high predominance of immigrants who have been eminently successful.”
  • “There are millions of children today who don’t attend school. However, education is the only way to get ahead in this country.”
  • “When the rate of change outside is more than what is inside, be sure that the end is near.”
  • “You cannot get into business for the fashion of it.”
  • “You cannot mandate philanthropy. It has to come from within, and when it does, it is deeply satisfying.”

How to cite this article:
Janse, B. (2022). Azim Premji. Retrieved [insert date] from Toolshero: https://www.toolshero.com/toolsheroes/azim-premji/

Published on: 04/19/2022 | Last update: 04/19/2022

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