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Who is Azim Premji? The architect of IT major Wipro's global success

Padma Bhushan awardee Azim Premji, with a net worth of $12 billion, is the founder of Wipro and established the Azim Premji Foundation

Azim Premji

Vasudha Mukherjee New Delhi

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After a long hiatus, Azim Premji addressed the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Annual Business Summit 2024 on Friday. The 78-year-old  is the founder of Wipro Limited, served as chairman for nearly four decades, and remains a non-executive member of the board.

In his address, Premji stressed the importance of integrity for businesses. He said a lack of integrity signifies a lack of character. Besides his ethical business practices, Premji is known for his philanthropic activities.

Here is everything you need to know about Azim Premji:

Azim Premji: Family background and education

Azim Premji was born on July 24, 1945, in Bombay (now Mumbai), India. He is considered a visionary entrepreneur who transformed Wipro Limited into a global leader in the software industry. Premji steered Wipro through diversification and growth, propelling it to unprecedented heights and establishing himself as one of the wealthiest individuals worldwide by the early 21st century.

In the year of his birth, Premji's father founded Western Indian Vegetable Products Ltd, laying the foundation for the family business. Despite the challenges of post-partition India, the Premjis remained in the country and committed to their enterprise. However, just before Premji had completed his engineering degree at Stanford University in 1966, his father passed away unexpectedly.

Faced with this sudden responsibility, Premji returned to India, taking the helm of the family business.

Transforming Wipro

In 1977, Premji renamed the company Wipro and began charting a new course for the enterprise. Recognising the potential of the burgeoning computer industry, he pivoted Wipro towards computer hardware and, later, software development. Under his leadership, Wipro forged successful international partnerships and became renowned for its custom software solutions, particularly in the United States.

Premji began leveraging India's pool of skilled software developers; he established Wipro as an information technology powerhouse. By the late 1990s, Wipro's value soared, cementing Premji's status as one of the world's wealthiest entrepreneurs.

Notably, he completed his Stanford degree in 1999.

Commitment to philanthropy

Premji is known for being grounded and committed to philanthropy. In 2001, he established the Azim Premji Foundation, which is dedicated to improving elementary education in rural India.

In 2005, the Government of India honoured him with the title of Padma Bhushan, the third-highest civilian award, for his work in trade and commerce.

Retirement from Wipro

Premji's retirement from Wipro in 2019 marked the culmination of a remarkable journey. In a heartfelt letter to his employees, he expressed gratitude for the privilege of leading Wipro and acknowledged the contributions of his colleagues. He also donated two-thirds of his wealth, totalling $21 billion, to charitable causes.

According to a 2019 report by Mint, despite industry shifts and executive departures, Wipro, under Premji, maintained a core of senior leaders who exemplified loyalty and dedication. Premji's enduring legacy lies not only in Wipro's transformation into a global powerhouse but also in his ethos of humility, integrity, and service to society.

Azim Premji's net worth

In 2024, Azim Premji ranked 165 on Forbes' list of the wealthiest people in the world, with a net worth of $12 billion.

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First Published: May 17 2024 | 9:30 PM IST

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