• Azim Hashim Premji (born 24 July 1945) is an Indian business tycoon and philanthropist who is the chairman of Wipro Limited, guiding the company through four decades of diversification and growth to emerge as one of the Indian leaders in the software industry.
• According to Forbes, he is currently the third wealthiest Indian, and the 41st richest in the world, with a personal wealth of $15.9 billion in 2012.In 2000, he was voted among the 20 most powerful men in the world by Asia week. He has twice been listed among the 100 most influential people by TIME Magazine, once in 2004 and more recently in 2011.Premji owns 79 percent of Wipro and also owns a private equity fund, Premji Invest, which manages his $1 billion personal portfolio.
Early life and career• When Azim Premji took over as its head, Wipro dealt in hydrogenated cooking fats and later diversified to bakery fats, ethnic ingredient based toiletries, hair care soaps, baby toiletries, lighting products, and hydraulic cylinders. Thereafter Premji made a focused shift from soaps to software. The Amalner-based vanaspathi manufacturing company, the Western India Products later became Wipro Products Ltd and Wipro Limited subsequently. Under Premji’s leadership Wipro embarked on an ambitious phase of expansion and diversification. The Company began manufacturing light bulbs with and other consumer products including soaps, baby care products, shampoos, powder etc.
• In the 1980s Wipro entered the IT field, taking advantage of the exit of IBM from the Indian market in 1975. Thus, Wipro started manufacturing computer hardware, software development and related items, under a special license from Sentinel. As a result, the $1.5 million company in hydrogenated cooking fats grew within a few decades to an over $6 billion diversified, integrated corporation in services, medical systems, technology products and consumer items with offices worldwide. The company’s IT division became the worlds first to win SEI CMM level 5 and PCMM Level 5 (People Capability Maturity Model) certification, the latest in quality standards. A large percentage of the company’s revenues are generated by the IT division. Wipro works with leading Fortune 500 companies. Wipro also has a joint venture in Medical Systems with General Electric company.
• Wipro Consumer Care launched brands like Santoor and the Wipro Shikakai in 1986; Santoor Talc and Wipro Baby Soft in 1991; Santoor Facewash,Wipro Sanjeevani Honey and Wipro Safe wash in 2004; Santoor Hand wash in 2006; Wipro Sweet n Healthy and Chandrika Hand wash in 2007 and Santoor Deo in 2010.• Wipro Consumer Care acquired brands like Glucovita in 2003; Chandrika in 2004; North West in 2006; Unza in 2007; Enchanteurand Romano in 2008 and Yardley in 2009 and Aramusk in 2011.• Azim Premji founded Wipro Lighting and Wipro GE Medical Systems in 1991; Wipro Net in 1999; netKracker in 2000; Wipro Water in 2008; and Wipro EcoEnergy in 2009
Personal life• Azim Premji is married to Yasmeen.The couple have two children, Rishad and Tariq. Rishad is currently the Chief Strategy Officer of IT Business, Wipro.• Premji has been recognised by Business Week as one of the Greatest Entrepreneurs for being responsible for Wipro emerging as one of the world’s fastest growing companies. In 2000, he was conferred an honorary doctorate by the Manipal Academy of Higher Education.• In 2006, Azim Premji was awarded Lakshya Business Visionary by National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai.• He was awarded a Doctor of Literature (D.Litt.), an honorary degree, from the Aligarh Muslim University on 18 June 2008 on the occasion of 58th Convocation Ceremony of the University.
• In 2009, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut for his outstanding philanthropic work. In 2005 the government of India honoured him with the title of Padma Bhushan for his outstanding work in trade and commerce.• In 2011, he has been awarded Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award by the Government of India.• Premji is known to personally use Chandrika soap (manufactured by Wipro) as a substitute for shaving cream.
Philanthropy Wipro Equity Reward Trust• In 1984, Azim Premji established the Wipro Equity Reward Trust to allow employees to acquire stake in Wipros success and growth. The WERT, which is administered by a Board of Trustees is designed to give eligible employees the right to receive restricted shares and other compensation benefits at the stipulated times and conditions. Such compensation benefits include voluntary contributions, loans, interest and dividends on investments in the WERT and other similar benefits. Shares from the WERT are issued in the joint names of the WERT and the employee until such restrictions and obligations are fulfilled by the employee. After a four-year period, complete ownership of the shares is transferred to the employee.
• If employment is terminated by death, disability or retirement, his or her restricted shares are transferred to the employee’s legal heirs or continue to be held by the employee, as the case may be, and such individuals may exercise any rights to those shares for up to 90 days after employment has ceased.
Azim Premji Foundation and university• In 2001, he founded Azim Premji Foundation, a non-profit organisation, with a vision to significantly contribute to achieving quality universal education that facilitates a just, equitable, humane and sustainable society. The Foundation works in the area of elementary education to pilot and develop proofs of concept that have a potential for systemic change in Indias 1.3 million government-run schools. A specific focus is on working in rural areas where the majority of these schools exist. This choice to work with elementary education (Class I to VIII) in rural government-run is a response to evidence of educational attainment in India.
• In December 2010, Premji pledged to donate $2 billion for improving school education in India. This has been done by transferring 213 million equity shares of Wipro Ltd, held by a few entities controlled by him, to the Azim Premji Trust. This donation is the largest of its kind in India.• The Azim Premji University was established under an act of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly to run programmes to develop education and development professionals, offer alternative models for educational change and also invest in educational research to continuously stretch the boundaries of educational thinking. Currently the university conducts three degree awarding programmes:• Masters in Development.
• Masters in Education.• Masters in Teacher Education.• The Continuing Education Programme aims to transform existing talent in the fields of education and development. The programme is facilitated by the University Resource Centre which provides learning content and capacity building programmes for professionals in education and development through short-term certified courses.• The URC is being developed with a view to conduct relevant and meaningful research into the education system, especially in India. These researches shall be in a manner that facilitates proactive reforms to the existing education system.