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PofE 051: Azim Premji - India's IT Problem Solver and Philanthropist

Businessman-solutions-the-problem“Life is a continuous exercise in creative problem solving.”

-Michael J. Gelb               

Background and Challenges

  • Azim Premji was born in 1945, in Bombay India, as the son of M.H Premji. Azim's father was an entrepreneur who started a manufacturing and distribution company called Western India Vegetable Products around the time that Azim was born.
  • Azim enrolled into Stanford University to study engineering with the hope of obtaining his degree and developing policy for the Third World country at the World Bank.
  • Before he completed his studies he received a call from his mother, Gulbanoo Premji in India with the news that his father had passed of a heart attack and that he was needed to come back and run the family business. 
  • At this time, his father’s company was a public company with 350 employees and about $3 million in annual revenue. Azim had not taken business classes at Stanford, so he enlisted the support of a local professor in Bombay who recommended a number of business books that he read and learned on the job how to build a profitable business.
  • He discovered and gleaned the basics of business fundamentals and learned the value of systematically building his business using modern practices and philosophies.
  • Azim's education from Stanford provided him with a background in English literature, philosophy and psychology, which encouraged him to be more thoughtful and analytical about his strategic approach to building the business.
  • Although, the initial product of the Western India Vegetable Product company was peanuts and peanut oil, Azim turned the manual process into a systematic technology based process.
  • In 1977, India required all foreign technology companies to work through local entities because of rampant corruption, and Azim used the political decision to transform a vegetable company into one of the world's premier technology companies, Wipro.

Accomplishments

  • Built a peanut and peanut oil business into a multi-billion dollar technology company, Wipro.
  • Founded the Azim Premji Foundation to provide educational resources to people of all classes across India.
  • Received an honorary doctorate from the Manipal Academy of Higher Education.
  • Azim is known as the Bill Gates of India.
  • Pledged to give 50% of his wealth to philanthropic endeavors. In 2012, his net worth was appropriately $12.2 Billion.

What can we learn from Azim Premji?

Let’s listen to the following interview and feel free to comment on what you gleaned from this amazing entrepreneur. 

  

Website References

http://www.forbes.com/lists/2009/10/billionaires-2009-richest-people_Azim-Premji_1UFS.html

http://azimpremjifoundation.org/Our_Vision

http://www.in.com/azim-premji/biography-392.html

http://www.in.com/news/business/azim-premji-donates-half-of-his-wealth-50187456-in-1.html?utm_source=news&utm_medium=news-crsl

Principles of Execution Key Concepts:

  • Problem Solver
  • Philanthropist
  • Azim Premji

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