Azim Premji – the man who turned a cooking oil company to be one of the world’s biggest IT firms – Wipro

Wipro Founder Azim PremjiBCCL
  • Azim Premji was just 21 when he had to take over his family business and now, at 73, will retire from his post of executive chairman and MD of Wipro.
  • Today called the Czar of Indian IT, Premji turned the business around to make Wipro a $8.5 billion revenue company.
  • Premji’s contribution to philanthropy are immense – $21 billion.
In 1966, a 21-year old Azim Premji left his engineering course at Stanford University to come back and be at the helm of his family business – a $2 million hydrogenated cooking fat company. He turned the business around and forayed into IT products. And the now 73-year old Premji is stepping down from his post of executive chairman and Managing Director of Wipro by July end.

The Czar of Indian IT

Today, the company – Wipro – has revenues of $8.5 billion and is one of not just India but the world’s big IT firms. Through his tenure, Premji, who is also called the Czar of Indian IT industry, with his foresight, turned the fate of Wipro around. From a cooking fat company, he introduced hydraulic cylinders, soaps, lighting products to finally venturing into IT in the 1980s.

In the early 2000s, Wipro had emerged as a firm with more than a $1 billion revenue and was one of the early companies in India to offer IT outsourcing. Today, it is the fourth-largest IT outsourcing company in India and has over 160,000 employees across six continents.

From cloud infrastructure to data analytics and Artificial Intelligence to even blockchain, Wipro offers services in leading industry sectors.

Over the years, Premji, who did go on to obtain his Stanford degree through correspondence, has gathered several accolades along the way. He is the recipient of not just one but two of the Indian government’s highest civilian awards – Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan.

In 2018, he was conferred with Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur (Knight of the Legion of Honour) – the highest French civilian distinction by the French government.

India’s biggest philanthropist

But his contributions have not just been limited to IT in India. Premji in 2001 started the Azim Premji Foundation, a not-for-profit organization which aimed to better the public school education in India. Today, the foundation works out of 7 Indian states and has over 350,000 schools.

Premji made news very early on because of his decision to not just do charity as the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility program.

Often called, India’s most generous man, Premji in March 2019 took it one step ahead. He earmarked all economic benefits for philanthropy, setting aside 34% of Wipro shares worth $7.5 billion. His total contribution to philanthropy now stands at a whopping $21 billion, including 67% of economic ownership of Wipro Limited.

See Also:
Wipro founder Azim Premji to retire, son Rishad to take over
Azim Premji has now set aside $21 billion to charity, 67% of economic ownership of Wipro
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