With the end of the Azim Premji era, the Indian IT giant’s torch passes on to another Premji. Aggressive teamwork and tech-driven investments will highlight Rishad’s time as Chairman of Wipro.
Wipro will see an end of Azim Premji’s era, who is retiring from the chief executive’s position. Premji passes the baton to his son Rishad Premji. Rishad has been at Wipro since 2007 and having climbed steps like any employee, moving from a business manager at the company’s banking and financial services division to the chief executive of the India’s IT heavyweight.
He was mentored and prepared to lead the organization from the day he stepped out of Harvard Business School with an MBA degree. He completed his BA in economics from Wesleyan University in the US. After graduating from Harvard Business School, he joined Bain & Co. and worked there for around 2 years.
He also had a brief stint at the GE. Azim Premji had once said of him, “His commitment to the spirit of Wipro is absolute. His diverse and cross-industry experiences give him the benefit of a broad view of global business.
Grooming the future
Rishad Premji joined Wipro only after a rigorous interview process. His father, Azim Premji wanted his son to earn things and pass his wisdom, which can be seen in his grounded attitude that he inherited from his father. He took the responsibility of Business manager at Wipro’s banking and financial services unit.
It was under his leadership that Wipro acquired Gallagher Financial Systems (now called Wipro Gallagher Solutions). Rishad also supervised the Wipro’s acquisition of the Citibank captive in the application and infrastructure space. After getting promoted to the post of Chief Strategy Officer in 2010, he led Wipro’s M&A Strategy and conceptualized Wipro Ventures.
“The way he’s lived his life, the way he’s giving back what he’s made in his life. These are qualities I can only admire. So he’s a big, big role model for me. He’s probably the only role model for me.” Azim Premji on Warren Buffett
The $100 million funds invest in start-ups working on developing technologies and solutions, which complement Wipro’s businesses with next-generation services and products. Till date, the company has made 18 investments from the fund. Rishad is currently on the board of Wipro Enterprise Limited; Wipro-GE, a joint venture between Wipro and General Electric in the healthcare domain and Azim Premji Foundation.
The best days of Wipro are yet to come – Former CFO Suresh Senapathy
Suresh Senapathy, board member of Wipro Enterprise and former CFO of the company said he has seen Rishad grow from strength to strength. “He is very focused, keen learner and has a great grasp on technology. He is down to earth and has an ability to connect with people. He has a great vision on the future of technology and is able to make bold bets,” he said.
After having played a larger role beyond Wipro as Chairman of Nasscom and has been influential in charting the future of Indian IT industry. “I am sure he will build on Mr. Premji’s legacy and take Wipro to greater heights – I am sure the best days of Wipro are yet to come,” he added.
I’m not called Mr Premji. No one calls me Mr Premji. I look around when someone calls me that. I’m called Rishad. – Rishad Premji
Is Rishad the leader Wipro need?
The road ahead is even more difficult for the new commander with Wipro’s growth lagging that of peers. HCL has overlapped Wipro with a revenue growth of 11.8%, compared to 5.4% of Wipro. Tata Consultancy Service also saw a growth in double digits, which made Wipro reconsider their organization’s approach.
Rishad Premji is expected to reinvent Wipro’s strategy by making it more performance driven rather than loyalty driven. Premji is also speculated to improve the teamwork within the organization by asking the top management to collaborate more to increase the productivity and flow of ideas, making the company more interdependent. Premji is known for his risk-taking nature and is likely to further expand Wipro with acquisitions and technology.
Rishad Premji is a fierce man whose vision is to create a diverse environment within Wipro. He has proved his competence in the past, and with 12 years of grooming under Azim Premji, there is no doubt he deserves to claim the top spot in the office.
Rishad Premji has a deep knowledge of the global technology industry and was until recently the Chairman of the trade body NASSCOM, where he helped chart the course of India’s $170-billion software industry in this era of digital transformation and is expected to place some high bets in near future with some major tech-based acquisitions.