In 1966, at the age of 21, Premji took on the mantle of leadership of Wipro. He began his stint in Wipro with a simple Vision to build an organization on a foundation of Values.
Under his leadership, the fledgling $2 million hydrogenated cooking fat company has grown to $3 billion IT, BPO and R&D Services organization, serving customers across the globe. Wipro is the largest third party R&D Services provider in the world. Business Week ranks it among the top 100 Technology companies globally today. Forbes counts Wipro in its list of Fab 50 Firms of Asia. Wipro’s growth continues be driven by its core Values.
Over the years, Azim Premji has received many honors and accolades, which he believes are recognitions for each person who has contributed to Wipro. 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 abut significant and lasting social, political or cultural changes (October 2005, November 2004). Time listed him (April 2004) as one amongst 100 most influential people in the world. He was named by Fortune (August 2003) as one of the 25 most powerful business leaders outside the US, Forbes (March 2003) listed him as one of ten people globally, who have the most power to effect change and Business Week (October 2003) featured him on their cover with the sobriquet India’s Tech King. He was adjudged as the Business Leader of the Year 2004 by the Economic Times. In 2005 he became the first Indian recipient of the Faraday Medal.
The Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee and the Manipal Academy of Higher Education have both conferred honorary doctorates on him, while XLRI, Jamshedpur has conferred the Sir Jehangir Ghandy Medal for Industrial and Social Peace, Visvesvaraya Technological University conferred Sir M. Visvesvaraya Memorial Award in Sept 2000 and the Institute of Electronics and Telecommunication Engineers in the year 2000 conferred its highest honor the Honorary fellowship. He is a non-executive Director on the Board of the Reserve Bank of India. He is also a member of the Prime Minister’s Committee for Trade and Industry in India. In January 2005, the Government of India conferred upon him the Padma Bhushan, one of the highest civilian awards in the country.
Premji firmly believes that ordinary people are capable of extraordinary things. He believes that the key to this is creating highly charged teams. He takes a personal interest in developing teams and leaders. He invests significant time as a faculty in Wipro’s leadership development programs.
Premji has a fanatical belief in delivering Value to the Customer through Innovation and leading-edge quality processes. This belief has driven Wipro’s pioneering efforts on Quality, culminating in the system called the Wipro Way. Wipro was the first Indian Company to embrace Six Sigma, the first Software Services Company in the world to achieve SEI CMM Level 5 and the world’s first organization to achieve PCMM Level 5 (People Capability Maturity Model). Wipro is also the pioneer in applying Lean methodologies to Software development and maintenance with more than 300 lean projects. The belief in Innovation has translated into the attempt to institutionalize Innovation at Wipro, and complement the spark of creativity with methodical, deliberate and sustainable processes to drive and facilitate Innovation.
In the year 2001, Premji established the Azim Premji Foundation, a not-for-profit organization with a Vision of significantly contributing to quality primary education for every child, in order to build a just, equitable and humane society. The financial resources to this foundation have been personally contributed by Premji. The current programs of the Azim Premji Foundation engage 3.2 million children in more than 17,000 schools across India. In October 2006, the Foundation was recognized as the Corporate Citizen of the year by the Economic Times.
Azim Premji is a graduate in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, USA.