Asiaweek also identified Premji amongst 20 most powerful men in the world. Most recently, in 2011, TIME Magazine listed him amongst the 100 most influential. He received the same recognition in the year 2004 as well. Premji firmly believes that ordinary people are capable of extraordinary things and 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.
Early Life of Azim H. Premji
Azim H. Premji was born on 24th July 1945 in Karachi, which was in India at the time. He did his schooling from St. Mary's School I.C.S.E. at Mazagaon, Mumbai. In 1966, while Premji was just finishing his undergraduate engineering studies at Stanford University, his father passed away. On the sudden demise of his father, he had to come back to India to handle the family's fledgling vegetable oil business at the age of 21. Premji received permission to study arts courses by correspondence to complete the requirements for his Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering.
Career of Azim H. Premji
Azim H. Premji took up Wipro as a traditional family business of $1.5mn, which dealt with hydrogenated cooking fats. However, later it began dealing with product lines like bakery fats, ingredient based toiletries, hair care soaps, baby products, lighting products and hydraulic cylinders. The great visionary in 1975 observed the company's potential in IT field. Thus in 1980 Wipro ventured into this field. Wipro began making computer hardware, software development and related products under a special license of Sentinel.
Currently under the leadership and guidance of Premji, the traditional business has been transformed into $6bn global software company. It now operates in almost 50 countries. The company has been ranked the highest in providing integrated business, technology, consulting, testing and process solutions on a universal platform.
Wipro was the first Indian Company to embrace Six Sigma, the first Software Services Company in the world to achieve SEI CMM Level 5. It also became the world's first organization to achieve PCMM Level 5 (People Capability Maturity Model). 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. According to Business Week, the leading business magazine, today Wipro is ranked among the top 100 Technology companies globally. In the past 2 years Wipro has also become the largest BPO services provider, based in India. Wipro's growth continues to be driven by its core Values. Wipro's pioneering efforts on Quality has driven from Premji's strong fanatical belief in delivering Value to the Customer through world-class quality processes.
Wipro Consumer Care has launched various brands like Wipro Baby Soft, Santoor Facewash, Wipro Sanjeevani Honey, Santoor Talc, Santoor and the Wipro Shikakai; and Wipro Safewash; Santoor Handwash; Wipro Sweet 'n' Healthy and Chandrika Handwash and Santoor Deo. Wipro Consumer Care has also acquired brands like Glucovita, Chandrika; North West; Unza; Enchanteurand Romano and Yardley and Aramusk.
Azim H. Premji as a Philanthropist
Azim Premji founded the Wipro Equity Reward Trust in 1984, in order to allow employees to obtain stake in Wipro's success and growth. He has also established the Azim Premji Foundation. The current programs of the Azim Premji Foundation engage 1.8 million children under various programs. Premji has personally contributed the financial resources to this foundation. This organisation works in the area of elementary education to pilot and develop 'proofs of concept' that have a potential for systemic change in India's 1.3 million government-run schools. This is a strong initiative to eradicate illiteracy from India. This foundation is stressing on working in rural areas where the majority of these schools exist. In December 2010, Azim H. Premji pledged to contribute $2 billion for improving school education in India. This has been done by transferring 213 million equity shares of Wipro Ltd. Then the Azim Premji University was established under an act of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly. This plays a vital role in running the literacy programmes to develop education and development of the professionals, offering the alternative models for educational change. It also invests in educational research to continuously stretch the boundaries of educational thinking.
The Continuing Education Programme by A.H.Premji aims to change existing talent in the fields of education and development in various technical perspectives. The programme is facilitated by the University Resource Centre which provides learning content and capacity building programmes for professionals in education and growth in the technical ways through short-term certified courses.
The URC is being developed with a sight to conduct pertinent and momentous research into the education system, especially in the rural and urban life of India. These researches shall be in a manner that facilitates practical reforms to the existing education system.
Personal Life of Azim H. Premji
Azim Premji is married to Yasmeen. They are blessed with two children, Rishad and Tariq. Rishad is married to Aditi and is currently the Chief Strategy Officer of IT Business, Wipro Limited.
Honours and Recognition of Azim H Premji
Azim Premji has received many honours and accolades over the years. He was awarded the Business Man of the Year 2000, by Business India and the Business Leader of the Year 2004, by The Economic Times. In 2003, Fortune named him as one of the 25 Most Powerful Business Leaders outside the US. Business week, in 2003, featured him on their cover with the assumed name Indians Tech King. Time listed him as one amongst 100 most influential people in the world. In 2005, the Government of India conferred upon him the Padma Bhushan Award, one of the highest civilian awards in the country. Azim Premji was awarded Lakshyalkhjkl Business Visionary by National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai in the year 2006. He was also awarded a Doctor of Literature (D.Litt.), an honorary degree, from the Aligarh Muslim University on 2008. The award was bestowed upon him on the occasion of 58th Convocation Ceremony of the University.
Azim H. Premji is a member of the Prime Minister's Advisory Committee for Information Technology in India. The Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee and the Manipal Academy of Higher Education have both conferred honorary doctorates on him. A book on Azim H. Premji and his life history is 'Bangalore Tiger". This is the book published in 2006 by Mcgraw Hills companies. It was written by Steve Hamm. This book tells the Wipro's business policies that changed the global technological system of the worlds and India as well.