Now there are great things to be said about the rich and successful business men of India. But when you come across a distinct breed amongst them, you sit up and take notice. Mr. Azim Premji, is not just a businessman but a human being par excellence! True, that he has no ‘rags to riches’ story. But to diversify and successfully transform a $ 2 Million net-worth manufacturer of vegetable and refined oils – ‘Wipro’, in to a global IT powerhouse, currently valued at $ 35 Billion, is no mean feat.
Let’s take a look at 5 life lessons leaders can pick up from this astute individual:
21-year-old Azim had an important decision to make while studying for his electrical engineering degree at Stanford in 1966. The sudden demise of his father M.H Premji left a gaping organisational hole in the family run business. He quit his studies and flew back mid-course to take responsibility of the establishment, knowing very well what his priorities were at this time of need. Nobody was willing to put their money on this youngster. He has been at the helm of affairs since then, and the rest as they say is history.
Have faith in your abilities and make every single opportunity count:
When Azim Premji occupied the hot seat, Wipro dealt in hydrogenated cooking fats and later diversified to bakery fats, ethnic ingredient based toiletries, hair care soaps, baby toiletries, lighting products, and hydraulic cylinders. The expulsion of IBM from the Indian markets in 1975 was to be his window of opportunity and gave wings to the Wipro fairytale transition from ‘soaps to software’. Thereafter there has been no looking back for Wipro since the 1980s.
Play with integrity:
Premji strongly believes that one’s value system forms the core of the business. According to him play to win but that does not mean playing dirty. It is about aiming for the maximum, a passion to do our best and having the hunger to be the best. It is not at all about winning at the expense of others. It brings out the best in us and in our teams. It brings out the desire to stretch, to achieve that which seems beyond our grasp.
Remain down to earth:
His modest lifestyle is the stuff of legend and the 4th richest person of the country famously travels economy class and was reportedly using a Honda City for more than a decade, until he got a ‘second-hand’ Mercedes for himself. Not once has he let all this success get to his head and his humble professional and personal conduct are an integral part of the industry folklore.
Life is all about giving:
He became the first Indian to sign up for the ‘The Giving Pledge’, a campaign led by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, to encourage the wealthiest people to make a commitment to give most of their wealth to philanthropic causes. This Guru of giving further recently announced that that he was giving away half of his wealth to charity. Rs 50,000 crore! Yes, you read that right.
A holistic approach to life coupled with acumen for business has what has scripted this 2011 Padma Vibhushan awardee’s amazing career path full of soul-stirring milestones. His faith in his own words “excellence endures and sustains”, seems to be the befitting self-motivator for his many achievements. A legend in his own right this septuagenarian continues to inspire generations of innovators and dreamers.