We Will Transform To Reach New Heights, Says Outgoing Wipro Chairman Azim Premji In His Last AGM

Wipro will continually transform to scale new heights as the world changes while remaining firmly committed to its values, the company's Chairman and tech magnate Azim Premji said.

Wipro Chairman Azim Premji In His Last AGM: We Will Transform To Reach New Heights
Azim Premji turned a small maker of vegetable oil into a USD 8.5-billion software behemoth. (File Photo/ Getty)
Updated: 17 Jul 2019 04:01 PM
Bengaluru: Wipro will continually transform to scale new heights as the world changes while remaining firmly committed to its values, the company's chairman and tech magnate Azim Premji, who will retire as the company's head this month-end, said. Also, he expressed confidence that the future of Wipro would far outshine "anything that we have done before." The IT major last month had announced that Premji, who turned a small maker of vegetable oil into a USD 8.5-billion software behemoth, will retire as the company head by July-end and hand over reins of the firm to his son Rishad.

Premji, who turns 74 in July, would retire as Executive Chairman upon the completion of his current term on July 30 after having led the company for 53 years, it had said. Informing company's shareholders that Rishad Premji,chief strategy officer and member of the board, would take over as the executive chairman with effect from July 31 during the company's annual general meeting, he said Rishad brings to this role new ways of thinking, broad experience, and competence that would lead Wipro to greater heights.

"He (Rishad) has been an integral part of the leadership team since 2007, and has a deep understanding of the company, its business strategy, its culture and its heritage. He is also completely committed to the values which form the bedrock of Wipro," he added.

Rishad is BA in Economics from Wesleyan University in US and an MBA degree holder from Harvard Business School. Stating that leading Wipro from 1966 till now has been the "greatest privilege" of his life and it has been an "extraordinary journey", Premji in his speech to AGM thanked generations of Wiproites and their families for their contribution towards building our company to what it is today.

He said he would continue to serve on the board of Wipro Limited as non-executive director and founder-chairman,while dedicating most of his time and energy to the philanthropic efforts. Premji also informed that Abidali Neemuchwala would be the managing director of Wipro Limited from July 31, in addition to being the chief executive officer.

Noting that Narayanan Vaghul and Dr Ashok Ganguly would be retiring from the Wipro Board as of 31 July, he welcomed Arundhati Bhattacharya to the Wipro Board as a non-executive independent director. Pointing out that this year marks the 75th year of creating value for its stakeholders, and Wipro was established in 1945, Premji, in his speech, the copy of which has been made available said, "Today, transformative digital technologies are emerging at an unprecedented rate and technology is becoming a part of the core for all products and services.Established business models are being challenged to give way to new," he said.

"To lead in this time of rapid change we have sharpened our strategy into four pillars based on what our clients need - business re-imagination, engineering transformation and modernisation, connected intelligence, and trust," he said.

"In order to build the capabilities that are needed to deliver these strategies, we have been investing significantly in four areas - digital, cloud, engineering services and cyber security," he said.

"While we invest in new capabilities, we also strive to remain lean," he added. Consistent with philosophy, the company declared a dividend of Rs 1 per share, and completed a bonus issue of
one equity share for every three held in March 2019, Premji said, adding, it also announced a payout of Rs 105 billion through buyback to the shareholders in April 2019.

The board and the shareholders have approved a proposal to buyback equity shares of the company and the process would be completed by August 2019 subject to approval of SEBI, he said. As a large technology company which employs 1.70 lakh-plus people, Premji said technologies like digital and AI are disrupting the way services are rendered and the ability to learn becomes vital for the employees.

"At Wipro, we have made significant investments in reskilling our employees in digital technologies," he said. Pointing out that he has "irrevocably renounced" most of his personal assets and earmarked them to the endowment which supports the Azim Premji Foundation's philanthropic activities, Premji said the total value of the philanthropic endowment corpus contributed over time is Rs 1.50 lakh crore,which includes 67 per cent of economic ownership of Wipro Limited.