Chairman of software major Wipro, Azim Premji, has decided to step down after 50 years and hand over charge to his elder son, Rishad. The Bengaluru-headquartered company made the announcement last week. The 75- year- old Premji will however, 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.
In a statement, Wipro said, "Rishad Premji, chief strategy officer and member of the board, will take over as the executive chairman of the company. The company announced conferring the additional role of managing director of Wipro to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Executive Director Abidali Z Neemuchwala. Premji is also managing director of Wipro, along with being executive chairman.
In a statement, he said, "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. I have great confidence and trust in Rishad's leadership to steer Wipro in its next phase of growth as we move forward." Premji will however, 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.
Wipro has been working on succession for quite some time, grooming Rishad 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. He is aware of the dynamics of the trade, and proved his mettle by raising issues faced by the industry.
He earned brownie points from Wipro when he spearheaded the integration of Citi Technology Services, following Wipro's acquisition of the Citibank captive in the application and infrastructure space. Citi is one of Wipro's top customer in the BFSI space. "Rishad brings to this role new ways of thinking, experience, and competence that will lead Wipro to greater heights. He has been an integral part of the leadership team since 2007, most recently as chief strategy officer, and has an intimate understanding of our company, from operations to strategy," Premji said.
“Wipro has lagged its larger peers largely because of its exposure to certain sectors like oil and gas and telecom where business changes have been profound due to the market conditions. But they seem to be catching up and showing some aggression to get back to growth trajectory,” said Sampath Reddy, CIO, Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance.
Pratik Kumar, CEO of Wipro Infrastructure Engineering, said Wipro’s change of guard is an absolute case study on how succession needs to be planned. “Obviously, Premji’s are big shoes to be filled. But Rishad will bring his own leadership flavour as chairman and it all augurs well.”