Rishad Premji, executive chairman of IT services giant Wipro, said he was told not to try to fit into his father’s boots, but to sew his own. Rishad took over as executive chairman of Wipro from his father Azim Premji in July 2019.
“He (Azim Premji) is a legendary founder and we don’t try to fill shoes here. One of my board members once told me that don’t try to fill big shoes, rather sew yours…because you can’t fill big shoes,” Rishad told CNBC-TV on the sidelines of the 2022 World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos.
Rishad said his style and his father’s work style are very different and that Wipro as a company has seen many changes. Referring to Wipro CEO, Thierry Delaporte, Rishad said, “We have a global CEO leading the company. Now we have completely transformed our structure. We have moved from an organization by industry to an organization by market. So we have four markets around the world, we are now much, much closer to the market.”
Mix of old and new leaders
Rishad said the company has an ideal mix of new and old leaders. “We have a nice mix, I think of new leaders bringing a new mindset to the organization, but 55% of our top 200 leaders have been in the organization for more than 10 years. We think it’s important to be in a nice combination of old and new,” he said.
Rishad believed that people are the most important asset in a service business and the key is to stay in touch with them. “I spend my time on the capital and the investments that we make and I spend my time with our board and how do we make sure we have an impactful board that helps us think strategically and boldly. But people are probably the most important and I think in a service business, people are your number one asset, it’s important to spend time with them,” he said.
Hybrid is good, but desktop is key to ‘connectivity’
It’s important for people to physically come to work to make the connection, before moving to a hybrid work environment, Rishad said.
He said 45% of Wipro employees are new, haven’t walked into an office or had any contact with anyone except a few people and their boss. . “So it’s very difficult to foster connectivity in that environment. So I think it’s extremely important that people come back to the office at least for some rhythm. You want to move to a hybrid model to come back for connectivity, to come back for the culture,” he said.
Organizations grow and organizations connect when people chat over coffee or lunch. I believe in it a lot, he says. “So I think it’s extremely important to drive that to nurture that because we’re very proud of the culture and the values that we imbibe as an organization. It’s a huge, I think, differentiator for us. , and it’s important that people have experienced that,” he added.
Rishad joined Wipro as Chief Commercial Officer in 2007 and was promoted to Chief Strategy Officer in 2019. He was inducted into the Wipro Board of Directors in 2015, the year he also conceptualized and created Wipro ventures.
Wipro under Rishad Premji as Executive Chairman
Within six months of Rishad taking over as Executive Chairman of Wipro, the company, in December 2019, was listed best employer for australia for 2020. The company had a 35% increase year over year (YoY) in consolidated net income in the second quarter of fiscal 2020, shortly after Rishad took office. However, he had published a 2.1% decrease of consolidated net profit in the next quarter.
The CEO of Wipro at the time, Abidali Z Neemuchwala, resigned in January 2020 and his position was subsequently filled by Thierry Delaporte in May, which, in a letter to employees in November highlighted organizational changes such as the newly created role of Chief Growth Officer, a new operating model to help drive growth in non-US markets, among others.
Since Rishad took over as executive chairman of the global IT services company, Wipro and its units have acquired and announced the acquisition of a slew of businesses, including digital customer experience (CX) company Rational Interaction, the engineering services company Eximius Design, Capco, a UK-based consultancy, among others.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit India in March 2020, Wipro and its philanthropic arm Azim Premji Foundation pledged Rs 1,125 crore in the face of the unprecedented health and humanitarian crisis.
In July last year, the company said it would invest $1 billion to extend the cloud transformative capacity.
(Edited by : Shoma Bhattacharjee)
First post: STI