Posts Tagged ‘Businessmen’

At the first annual general meeting of the company attended by Azim Premji, a shareholder doubted Premji’s ability to handle business at such a young age and publicly advised him to sell his shareholding and give it to a more mature management. This spurred Azim Premji and made him all the more determined to make Wipro a success story. And the rest is history.

Azim Hashim Premji, born on July 24, 1945, is a man of power and strength. He is a business tycoon, philanthropist and the chairman of Wipro Limited, a group company that holds Wipro Technologies, India’s third largest software development company. He is an icon among Indian businessmen and his success story is a source of inspiration to a number of budding entrepreneurs.
Premji was born to a Gujarati Khoja, Shia Islamic family at Karachi, present day Pakistan. His father MH Premji owned the Western India Products (which later became Wipro Ltd.) that made hydrogenated vegetable oils and fats. His grandfather was the rice king of Burma. While Premji completed his initial education at St. Mary’s School, Mumbai, he was forced to leave his studies in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, California, USA at the age of 21 to take over the family business when his father suddenly died in 1966. He, however, after a gap of 30 years, completed the engineering degree in 1999. Premji is married to Yasmeen; the couple has two children, Rishad and Tariq. Rishad is currently the Chief Strategy Officer of IT Business, Wipro Technologies while Tariq,has co-founded a dotcom and works from Bangalore. However, Premji who holds 78% stakes in Wipro does not believe in naming one of his sons as his successor just for the norms.Wipro grew from a company of US $2.5 million to a giant of $1.4 billion under Azim Premji’s leadership. When he took the lead, the company dealt in hydrogenated cooking fats and later diversified to bakery fats, ethnic ingredient based toiletries, hair care soaps, baby toiletries, lighting products, and hydraulic cylinders. Thereafter Premji made a focused shift from soaps to software. Wipro was the pioneer in providing integrated business, technology and process solutions on a global delivery platform. Today, Wipro Technologies is the largest independent R&D service provider in the world. It entered the IT field, taking advantage of the expulsion of IBM from the Indian market in 1975. Wipro Technologies is ranked among the top 100 technology companies globally. It works with leading global companies, such as Alcatel, Nokia, Cisco, Ericsson and Nortel and has a joint venture in Medical Systems with General Electric Company.
Despite all the success, the media-shy Premji maintained a low profile, letting his work do all the talking; until when the media broke the story that Azim Premji had become the second-richest man in the world. In spite of his billions, he still travels economy class, stays in budget hotels and drives a Toyota Corolla! In 2000, Asiaweek magazine voted Premji among the 20 most powerful men in the world. He was among the 50 richest people in the world from 2001 to 2003 listed by Forbes. In April 2004, Times Magazine rated him among the 100 most influential people in the world. He is also the richest Indian for the past several years. In 2005, Government of India honored Azim Premji with Padma Bhushan. As on March 9, 2010, he was one of the wealthiest people in India, with a net worth of $17 billion. The Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee and the Manipal Academy of Higher Education have both conferred honorary doctorates on him. He is also a member of the Prime Minister’s Advisory Committee for Information Technology in India.

In 2001, Premji established the Azim Premji Foundation, a not-for-profit organization with a Vision of significantly contributing to quality universal education to build a just, equitable and humane society. This means every child should receive quality education. The foundation works closely with the State Governments of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh etc and the programs cover over 5000 rural schools. The financial resources to this foundation have been personally contributed by Premji. In December 2010, he pledged to donate $2 billion for improving school education in India. This would be done by transferring 213 million equity shares of Wipro Ltd, held by a few entities controlled by him, to the Azim Premji Trust. This donation is the first of its kind by any Indian billionaire.

Premji’s story of success and prominence clearly shows how determination and perseverance, when coupled with knowledge, clear vision and proper planning, enable one to reach the peak of success and leadership. To end with Azim Premji’s strong belief: “Ordinary people are capable of extraordinary things, have the courage to think big.”

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Ratan Tata, the proud chairman of the salt-to-software conglomerate is looking for someone who can fit well into his huge shoes.

India keenly awaits the succession of the $71 billion TATA Group. Ratan Tata will retire in December, 2012, when he turns 75. He is the chairman of Tata Sons, the group’s holding company and non-executive chairman of group companies like Tata Steel, Tata Motors and Tata Consultancy Services.

This hunt for the successor ought to be on the priority list of Mr. Tata as he may not wish the future Chairman to face the challenges that he did when he took over after his uncle JRD Tata in 1991. “The process of succession planning is much more dignified than at the time of JRD Tata,” said Gita Piramal, management writer and author of Business Maharajas. “Nobody knew JRD’s mind. There seems to be an inclusive exercise going on as Ratan Tata is consulting within and outside to find the successor.”

The board of Tata Sons has formed a panel of five wise men to find out who should be the successor to Mr. Ratan Tata. The decision is certainly very complex given the size of the Tata Empire. The selection committee comprises of Tata Sons vice chairman N.A. Soonawala, two other senior group directors RK Krishnakumar and Cyrus Mistry, group adviser and lawyer Shirin Bharucha and Lord Kumar Bhattacharya, a London-based management guru and Ratan Tata’s close friend. He is the committee’s external member. Ratan Tata will be the mentor of this panel.

While the panel has commenced working on the hunt, India has started its speculation on who can or who will fit into India’s most desired Corporate Vacancy. According to the people in the know and the criteria set by Tata, some of the desired requisites in the successor for the Tata Empire are that he/she has to have a thorough knowledge about the Tata Group. Also, the successor should be a generalist with excellent people management skills. Tata focuses on the Indian way of working that is relationship-oriented and not transaction-oriented. He/she should be good at decision making, communication, politics, and global economics along with having a clean track record that would instill respect.

The Namoleague Times speculates a strong contender for the race of the successor. Noel Tata (53) is the name that crops up, a natural heir with the family surname. The role clearly got bigger when in July, Noel was appointed managing director of Tata International, the global trading arm of the Tata group, triggering the doubts that he is being groomed to be the successor. Noel, the half brother of Mr. Ratan Tata resigned from the same position at Trent Retail Firm (which runs the Westside Stores), where he is still the Vice-Chairman. He was also appointed the non-executive chairman of Tata Investment Corp Ltd, a listed investment firm that has a substantial holding in Tata Group companies. He took over from NA Soonawala. What strengthens the argument for him is that he is the son-in-law of the biggest shareholder of Tata Sons, Pallonji Mistry, popularly known as the Phantom of the Bombay House. Noel has strong work experiences in Nestle, Lakme and Tomco in the past, and served Trent for 12 years as the MD.

The other names with global exposure that figure in the huge sweepstakes are Arun Sarin, former CEO of Vodafone, Indra Nooyi of Pepsi, Keki Dadiseth of Unilever, Carlos Ghosn of Renault and Citigroup’s Vikram Pandit. The debate continues as some believe that insiders have a better chance to pull-off. B Muthuraman, Vice-Chairman, Tata Steel; Ishaat Hussain, Finance Director, Tata Sons; R Gopalakrishnan, Executive Director, Tata Sons; S Ramadorai, Vice-Chairman, Tata Consultancy Services; and Ravi Kant, Vice-Chairman, Tata Motors are the names if one goes by the hear-say.

A very ingenious answer was given by Adil Irani, a stakeholder, to the succession riddle: “The last (letter) of Jahangir’s name (JRD Tata) was R, and the next chairman Ratan’s name began with R. Now, the last (letter) in Ratan’s name is N, so the next chairman’s name must begin with N. Thus it must be Noel”.

This curiosity is bound to be in the air till March, 2011, when the committee is supposed to come out with the name of one of the strongest contenders for the coveted post of the next chairman of the Tata Group.

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