Azim Premji’s Journey- From Early Life to the Name He Built For Himself

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ajim premji

Popular as the Czar of the Indian IT Industry, Azim Premji is the founder of Wipro and has several titles to his name. Being a Business tycoon, an engineer, an investor and a philanthropist, he has proved that ‘Change’ in an organization means more opportunities. No wonder the big man has turned the $2 million hydrogenated cooking fat company into a $8.5 billion tech giant. Premji became one of the richest in the world in the beginning of the 21st century. He has now been succeeded by his elder son Rishad Premji as the Chairman of Wipro.

What we will explore in the following Article

  • Some Takeaways about the Big Man
  • Premji- A Man of Principles
  • Premji’s Role as a Philanthropist
  • Achievements and Honors to Premji’s Name
  • How Premji’s Foundation Responded to COVID-19

Some Takeaways about the Big Man

  • He was born on 24 July, 1945 in an affluent family in Mumbai. His father Mohamed Hashim Premji was known as the Rice King of Burma, who chose to live in India when he was invited by Muhammad Ali Jinnah to live in Pakistan.
  • In the same year of Azim Premji’s birth, his father laid the foundation of Western Indian Vegetable Products, which manufactured cooking oil Sunflower Vanaspati and washing soap 787.
  • In 1966, he had to cut short an engineering course he was pursuing at Stanford University USA, to return to India on his father’s demise. Since then he entered into business and sketched his own path to success.
  • He expanded the commodities manufactured by the Western Indian Vegetable Products and added products like bakery fats, hair care soaps,baby toiletries, ethnic ingredient based toiletries, lighting products and hydraulic cylinders.
  • He grabbed the opportunity of replacing IBM, after its expulsion from India in the 1980’s.
  • Envisioning the growth opportunities of the IT sector, he renamed the company name to Wipro. Wipro collaborated with an American Company Sentinel Computer Corporation and started manufacturing minicomputers.
  • Throughout his journey of a successful career he has followed one fundamental business idea – ‘To build an organization deeply committed to Values,with the Client as the focus of all the efforts.’ With this business idea he has created an empire and influenced the lives of several people.

Premji- A Man of Principles

  • Besides being in talks all the time, Azim Premji is known for his humility and devotion towards mankind. Being a pure example of a true leader Premji has made his own principles and values, on which lies the foundation of his company Wipro. 
  • His belief in the power and capability of the common man is unshakable. This has earned him respect from the staff of Wipro, whom he has always considered as the reason behind the company’s success. 
  • As mentioned on the official site Wipro.com, “Wipro’s success has been driven by its cutting edge expertise in technology and understanding of global industries, which deliver real business values to its clients innovatively and consistently.”
  • He considers it as his responsibility to employ ethical, fair and ecologically sensitive business practices which makes him stand out. He has always actively engaged himself into activities revolving around the welfare of the society.

Premji’s role as a Philanthropist

He has always envisioned a better society and has played his role pretty well in achieving the dream. With this motto, he established a non-profit organization with an objective of enhancing the public school education system in India. The Azim Premji Foundation works in seven states of India and has established 350,000 schools in these states so far. The Foundation also runs Azim Premji University which is dedicated in imparting research programs and other areas in Human Development.

  • In 2013, Premji donation of 2 billion USD for which he transferred equity shares worth 213 million in the name of the foundation was one of the largest donations in India.
  • In 2019 he transferred 34% shares held by Wipro to his foundation.
  • By signing the ‘The Giving Pledge’ (led by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet), he became the first Indian to do so. This Pledge is signed by the wealthiest of people who dedicate their wealth to philanthropy.

Achievements and Honors to Premji’s Name 

  • Azim Premji became the first Indian to receive the honorary Faraday Medal and has been presented with honorary doctorates by the Michigan State University and Wesleyan University of the United States.
  • He has been conferred upon by the ‘Knight of the Legion of Honor’ which is the highest civilian award given by the Republic of France.
  • In 2005, the Indian Government honored Premji with the Padma Bhushan for his outstanding work in the field of Trade and Commerce.
  • In 2011, he was honored with the prestigious Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award in India.
  • He was listed as one of the top 30 top entrepreneurs by Business Week.
  • He was listed as one of the top global thinkers by the Journal of Foreign Policy.
  • He was bestowed with the Lifetime Achievement Award by Economic Times.
  • He has been declared as one of the most influential people of all times by Financial Times, Times, Fortune and Forbes on his outstanding contribution in the business and initiatives he has taken in the field of education.
  • Universities which have honored the legend with honorary doctorates are Manipal Academy for Higher Education in 2009, by Mysore University in 2015. He was also awarded the Lakshya Business Visionary by National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai in 2006.
  • He was conferred with the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy in 2017 for hailing the “conscience, integrity and compassion that have guided his visionary giving…. (with) invaluable benefit to both that nation and to the world.

How Premji’s Foundation responded to COVID-19

  • The Foundation has reached about 78 lakh people in 467 districts across India in the form of food, dry rations and personal hygiene products.
  • For health workers it initiated the distribution of over 2,00,000 PPE kits and N-95 masks.
  • A Wipro Campus in Pune has been repurposed to make a 450-be intermediary care unit COVID-19 Hospital.

Wrapping Up

Indian business tycoon, generous billionaire and philantropist Azim Premji has been inspirational for his benevolence, humane personality, leadership and modest lifestyle. How many of you see him as a role model or inspiration?

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