SPARK OF THE CORPORATE
Azim Premji took the reigns of Wipro way back in April 1966 when he was 21yrs and headed the company till end of 2010. He took up Wipro as a traditional family business of $1.5mn, which dealt with hydrogenated cooking fats. Later entered into product lines like bakery fats, ingredient based toiletries, hair care soaps, baby products, lighting products and hydraulic cylinders. In 1975 as a great visionary Premji observed the potential in IT field and in 1980 Wipro entered this field. Wipro started making computer hardware, software development and related products under a special license of Sentinel.
Under the leadership of Premji, $1.5mn worth of traditional business has been unbelievably transformed into $6bn global software company operating in 50 countries. Today Wipro Technologies is a leader in providing integrated business, technology, consulting, testing and process solutions on a global delivery platform with largest independent R&D service in the world. Wipro stood first organization in the world to achieve PCMM Level 5 (People Capability Maturity Model) and first Software Company to earn SEI CMM Level 5.Today Wipro has tie with leading global companies, such as Alcatel, Nokia, Cisco, Ericsson and Nortel and has a joint venture in Medical Systems with General Electric Company.This was all possible because of Azim Premji’s single minded pursuit of excellence. He was called as” Bill Gates” of India by Forbes magazine. His achievements spoke more than what he did.
More about Azim Premji
24 July 1945
Stanford University (dropped out in 1966, completed in 1999)
Chairman & CEO of Wipro
Padma Bhushan in 2005
Padma Vibhushan in2011
Azim Premji was born in 1945 in Karachi, Pakistan in Gujarati Khoja-Shia Muslim family. Both his father and grandfather were into family business of hydrogenated oils. His father owned a company named Western India Products which produced oils and it was listed in Bombay Stock Exchange in 1945. Azim Premji did his schooling at St.Mary’s School and mostly spend his childhood days in Mumbai. Sudden demise of his father forced him to discontinue his education in electrical engineering at Stanford University, California, USA; which he completed 30yrs later. Back at home he took up the challenge of leading his father’s business at a very young age of 21yrs. At the first shareholders meeting Premji was too nervous because nobody believed in him as he was too young. But the way he transformed oil business into giant software conglomerate is an example of his undebatable entrepreneurship.
He is a man of explicit simplicity. He always traveled in economy class and stayed in budgeted hotels. In spite of being third richest man in India he owned Toyota Corolla and Skoda. He often walked down to his office. He was even seen serving plates to the guests in his son’s marriage. This shows his politeness and courtesy towards people.
He strongly believed that education is building block of a countries growth, prosperity and upliftment of society. On contrary to other business people he took a step forward in building our nation. He established Azim Premji’s trust in 2001, which educated unprivileged children in rural areas. He undertook various education programmes for children in collaboration with the government. He donated 8,846Cr rupees to Premji’s trust which accounted to 8.7% of his net worth. This contribution made him stand by the side of great Philanthropists like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet who undertook lot of charitable works.
|Azimji with Rishad and his wife Naseem|| Azimji with his elder son Rishad |
|Azim Premji resides at Bangalore with his wife Naseem. He has two children the elder one is Rishad and the younger one is Tariq.|
Rishad is currently chief strategic officer of Wipro. Since four years he has been holding different positions at Wipro .
Rishad had management degree from Harvard Business School and joined Wipro in 2007 in the banking, financial services and insurance business. He had worked with GE Capital and Bain and Co earlier. He got married to Aditi.
Premji’s younger son Tariq is in philanthropic footsteps of his father and presently associated with Azim Premji’s eponymous Foundation.
Awards and Accolades
In 2000, Asia week magazine, voted Premji among the 20 most powerful men in the world.
He has been bestowed with doctor of humane letters by Wesleyan University, Connecticut, United States.
Azim Premji was among the 50 richest people in the world from 2001 to 2003.
Forbes listed him as one of ten people globally, who have the most “power to effect change” in 2003.
He was adjudged the Business Leader of the Year 2004 by the Economic Times
Financial Times included him in the global list of 25 people who are “dramatically reshaping the way people live, work or think” and “have done most to bring about significant and lasting social, political or cultural changes, in 2004
In April 2004, Times Magazine rated him among the 100 most influential people in the world.
Indian government honored him with Padma Bhushan in 2005 and Padma Vibhushan in 2011.
Mr.Azim Premji, Chairman of Wipro Ltd, has been awarded the US-India Business Council’s (USIBC) 34th Anniversary “Global Vision” award in Washington for his work furthering India-US relations through commercial partnership; in 2009.
Pursuit of Excellence behind Success of Premji
In this dynamic and ever changing environment one thing that guides us to success is the single minded pursuit of excellence. Excellence endures, sustains, and goes beyond motivation and inspiration. Excellence is the brain child of strong vision. Excellence would work miracles and that was experienced by Premji.
While speaking about excellence Premji says; Excellence is nothing but going little beyond what we expect from ourselves. This can be achieved by an obsession to attain excellence. Excellence is all about an ordinary man doing something extraordinary.Excellence is a great starting point for any new organization but also an unending journey.
In this cut throat competition and global business arena; customer is external force demanding excellence. There lies an internal force; the struggle you make to stretch yourself and your team. This is the best part of excellence.
Creating excellence in an Organization relies on few steps:
|First thing is an obsession for excellence should be created because it delivers good results. We should believe in it and it satisfies us immensely. We should involve in attaining excellence as whole and soul. We should look at global standards of excellence in price, quality and cost and try to overtake them.|
|Secondly; we should build a collective self confidence.Oraganizations and people with self confidence can attain excellence. We should have strong belief in ourselves and our prerequisites; otherwise we cannot perform better|
|Thirdly; we should overcome the paradox error between speed and excellence. Speed is just concerned with time where as excellence is concerned with speed, cost, and quality. Speed is only a part of excellence and not excellence itself|
|Fourthly; we cannot stand best in all the things we do. So, we should think about what we can do best and others do better than us. Today excellence doesn’t mean being best in India; it is all about being best in the world. We have to define what our own core competencies are and what we can outsource to other leaders. Headaches shared are headaches divided|
|Fifth thing is; we should create processes that enhance and enable excellence. We can follow some global standards of excellence like six sigma, CMM and ISO etc; because they are best measure for excellence. We should by default have to update our processes and follow latest technology and master technical skills in order to keep in pace with changing world|
|Sixth thing is; we must build a culture of team work; focusing on quality. This will enhance innovation and creative thinking which in turn contributes to attaining excellence. Cross functional teaming cuts out scalable amount of beurocracy, building of own empires and following silo culture. Of course teams are made of great people. Advantage of building teams focused on quality is that the teaming culture eventually spreads to the rest of the organization and teaming becomes a way of life|
|Seventh thing is; we have to invest in excellence in future. Future looks like it is too far. But, it descends all of a sudden and leaves us in surprise. Excellence for today is entirely different than that in future. We should keep in mind that we should not compromise on future in order to attain excellence for present. We should cut down our discretionary expenses and invest on strategies that protect the future excellence|
|Finally; excellence need humiliation. Learning is an ongoing process. There is no point in our lives where we can think that we know everything. We should always welcome new ideas and be open minded for learning. Otherwise we become complacent and doors for our learning are closed|
Life lessons from Premji
After leading Wipro for four decades and understanding various cultures, technologies and essence of leadership; Premji put success lessons into a nut shell; which are promising for our future growth. Here are few shared by Premji.
We should not run away from challenges in fact we should take charge. Similarly, when it comes to choosing your careers, you have to take charge of your own destiny. I believe that at the end of the day, our destiny is too precious to leave the choice to someone else.
Earn your Happiness
I have learnt that a Rupee earned is of far more value than five found. In fact, what is gifted or inherited follows the old rule of come easy, go easy. I guess we only know the value of what we have if we have struggled to earn it.
Success from Failure
Next lesson I have learnt is no one bats a hundred every time. Life has many challenges. You win some and lose some. The important thing is, when you lose, do not lose the lesson.
Willingness to learn
Humility is important. There is a thin line of difference between confidence and arrogance. Confident people are always open to learn. In a dynamic world, the rules of the game are always changing. Complacency can dull the senses and prevent us from knowing what is happening around us. That is the first step towards failure.
Always a better way
Partly as a corollary to what I have just said, we must remember that no matter how well we do something there has to be a better way! Excellence is not a destination but a journey. Continuous improvement happens when we believe it is possible and when we are willing to work for it. Creativity and Innovation sometimes need inspiration from other disciplines. Excellence and creativity go hand in hand.
Respond not React
There is a world of difference between the two and in terms of success and failure. The difference is that the mind comes in between responding and reacting. When we respond, we evaluate with a calm mind and do whatever is most appropriate. We are in control of our actions. When we react, we are still doing what the other person wants us to do. Disagreement and bringing about change as a response has led to challenging the status quo and useful, sustainable social reforms.
Stay physically fit
It is easy to take health for granted when you are young. But when you enter the 24 by 7 schedule of your work, it is important not to succumb to time pressure and sacrifice the time needed for physical fitness. I have found that exercise not only improves the quality of time but also reduces the time you need for sleep. The truth is that stress will only increase in a global world. You must have your own mechanism to deal with it. There is enough literature to support the finding that exercise effectively reduces stress. That is another benefit of remaining physically active.
Do not Compromise
One must define what you stand for. This is not difficult. But Values lie, not in the words used to describe them, as much as in the simple acts. And that is the hard part.
Playing to win
Bring out the best in us and in our teams. It brings out the desire to stretch, to achieve that which seems beyond our grasp. It is about aiming for the maximum, a passion to do our best and having the hunger to be the best. However, it is not about winning at any cost. It is not about winning every time. It is not about winning at the expense of others. It is about innovating all the time. It is a continuous endeavor to do better than last time. It is the Spirit of fortitude, the Spirit of never letting go – ever.
Give back to the Society
I mentioned in the beginning that while India has made tremendous progress, we also have significant challenges. All of us have a collective social responsibility towards doing our bit to address them. Of all the challenges, the key to me is education. Without education, it will not be possible to correct the past and prepare the society for the future. We also believe that no matter what, every child has a right to childhood. I wish you all the best in your life and career. I hope you achieve success in whatever way you define success to be.
Azim Premji’s Focus on Change
Change and uncertainty are inevitable and always been part of life. What has been annoying factor is the intensity and suddenness of change. Change has an impact not only on business but also on every part of humanlife.Future would be more dynamic and unpredictable.
Premji shared with us some of the guiding principles to stay sturdy in a changing environment. This is based on his experiences in Wipro:
Be alert for the first signs of change. Change dawns on everyone equally; it is just that some realize it faster. Some changes are Sudden but many others are gradual. While sudden changes get attention because they are dramatic, it is the gradual changes that are ignored till it is too late.You must develop your own early warning system, which warns you of changes and calls your attention to it. In the case of change, being forewarned is being forearmed.
Anticipate change even when things are going right. Most people wait for something to go wrong before they think of change. The biggest enemy of future success is past success. When you succeed, you feel that you must be doing something right for it to happen. But when the parameters for success change, doing the same things may or may not continue to lead to success.Guard against complacency all the time. Complacency makes you blind to the early signals from the environment that something is going wrong.
Always look at the opportunities that change represents. Managing change has a lot to go with our own attitude towards it. For every problem that change represents, there is an opportunity lurking in disguise somewhere. It is up to you to spot it before someone else does.
Do no allow routines to become chains. For many of us the routine we have got accustomed to obstructs change. Routines represent our own zones of comfort. There is a sense of predictability about them. They have structured our time and even our thought in a certain way. While routines are useful, do not let them enslave you. Deliberately break out of them from time to time.
Fear of the unknown is natural. With change comes a feeling of insecurity. Many people believe that brave people are not afflicted by this malady. The truth is different. Every one feels the fear of unknown. Courage is not the absence of fear but the ability to manage fear without getting paralyzed. Feel the fear, but move on regardless.
Keep renewing yourself. This prepares you to anticipate change and be ready for it when it comes. Constantly ask yourself what new skills and competencies will be needed. Begin working on them before it becomes necessary and you will have a natural advantage. The greatest benefit of your education lies not only in what you have learnt, but in working how to learn. Formal education is the beginning of the journey of learning. You have to constantly learn about people and how to interact effectively with them. In the world of tomorrow, only those individuals and organizations will succeed who have mastered the art of rapid and on-going learning.
Surround yourself with people who are open to change. If you are always in the company of cynics, you will soon find yourself becoming like them. A cynic knows all the reasons why something cannot be done. Instead, spend time with people who have a "can- do" approach.
Azim Premji’s future plans
Wipro chairman Azim Premji believes that just as the past few decades have been the "Information Age," the next few decades will be the "Ecological Age." And just as he transformed Wipro from a small oil and soap business into a US$6 billion IT and FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) powerhouse, Premji is now betting on ecology as the next big business opportunity for the group.
Wipro Water and Wipro Eco-Energy were set up in 2008 and 2009 as part of Wipro Infrastructure Engineering (WIE). In an interview Premji talks about ecology as a social and business imperative, the vast opportunities that it holds, and Wipro's foray and plans in this space.
Premji said that they have their own green offerings. There are three aspects of green in the IT business. We think that 'IT for Green' is far more important than 'Green IT'. IT in itself or IT infrastructure has less than 2% contribution to greenhouse gases or other ecological concerns. The big opportunity for IT is to help mitigate the effect of the other 98%. We will work with customers to create opportunities for their businesses, in the "Ecological Age", using IT. This is where IT can play a real role and this is what we are trying to build on.
He said, IT can help improve efficiency of all assets and they would help their customers with this and build on this opportunity.
He said innovation program combines the rigor of process with widely spread (across employee and partner base) sparks of creativity. We have built it over the past seven years. We are now [promoting] 'green' as a big theme in our innovation program. This is a long-term and fundamental investment theme for IT.
He said that in their PC manufacturing business, they have made significant progress on the Green PC on all three dimensions: energy efficiency, RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive) and Take-Back [recycling] program.
Hope viewers caught up spark….