Azim Premji steps down as Wipro chairman, son Rishad to take over the reins

Azim Premji
It’s the end of a long era at Wipro as Azim Premji, chairman of the software major, calls it a day, handing over charge to his elder son, Rishad, after leading the company for more than 50 years. The Bengaluru-headquartered company on Thursday announced Premji, 75, will step down as executive chairman on July 30.

He, however, will continue to be on its board as non-executive director for five years starting from July 31, 2019. He was conferred the title founder chairman of the company.  “Rishad Premji, chief strategy officer and member of the board, will take over as the executive chairman of the company (effective July 31),” Wipro said in a statement.
With succession planning, the company announced conferring the additional role of managing director of Wipro to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Executive Director Abidali Z Neemuchwala. In addition to being executive chairman, Premji is managing director of Wipro.

“It has been a long and satisfying journey for me. As I look into the future, I plan to devote more time to our philanthropic activities,” said Premji in a statement. 

“I have great confidence and trust in Rishad’s leadership to steer Wipro in its next phase of growth as we move forward.” However, Premji will stay chairman of Wipro Enterprises, the unlisted company that focuses on the non-IT businesses, and also Wipro-GE Healthcare, the company’s joint venture with GE.

Premji personifies a rare success story of corporate India, transforming a small hydrogenated cooking fat firm to a more than $8.5-billion IT services firm in the past three decades.

According to industry watchers, unlike many family-run business houses in India, Wipro has been working on succession planning for some time, with Rishad being groomed to step into Premji’s shoes.

As chief strategy officer, Rishad drives the company's mergers and acquisition strategy, apart from leading Wipro's $100-million venture capital fund, which invests in start-ups that develop new-age technologies. As former chairman of the IT industry association Nasscom, Rishad is aware of the dynamics of the trade, and proved his mettle by raising issues the industry faced. 

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