In the 1960s, Western India Vegetable Products Ltd was just another company that manufactured hydrogenated vegetable oils and fats. A few decades later, things had changed drastically. The company transformed into Wipro Ltd and entered unchartered territories.
It had expanded, diversified into new arenas, and had been catapulted into the big league of Indian companies. Its success was attributed to a man called Azim Premji, who soon became a household name.
His Early Life and Studies
Premji was born on 24th July 1945 in Karachi, which was then part of British India. He completed his schooling in Mumbai.
When his father – who was the owner of Western India Vegetable Products –met with a sudden demise, Premji was studying electrical engineering at Stanford University. Ending his studies abruptly, he came back to India to look after his father’s company. He was just 21 at the time.
Wipro Under Azim Premji
Wipro is currently into a host of businesses including lighting, hydraulic cylinders and toiletries, although its cash cow has been its IT business which came into being in 1980. Today, it is among the largest IT businesses globally and Wipro is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
More About Azim
There has been a lot of focus on Premji’s wealth over the years, and he has even been named in the Forbes list of richest Indians on a couple of occasions. However, he is known to be extremely reserved by nature, and much has been written about the fact that he prefers to travel economy class and stay in company guest houses rather than splurge money on expensive hotels.
In 1999, Premji obtained his degree in electrical engineering from Stanford by correspondence, completing the course that he had been forced to give up more than three decades earlier.
A speech by Premji at IIM Ahmedabad, which dwelt on ‘Change’, has been listed as one of the most appreciated and inspirational speeches he has ever delivered.
Conscious of social issues such as illiteracy and the lack of proper educational facilities in rural areas, Premji has made an effort to engage in social and charitable work. Much of this work happens through the Azim Premji Foundation, a non-profit organization which he set up in 2001.
Recognition and Awards
Premji is a recipient of the Padma Bhushan as well as the Padma Vibhushan awards conferred by the government of India. He has received an honorary doctorate from the Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, US.
He has also received honorary doctorates from the Aligarh Muslim University and the Manipal Academy of Higher Education in India.