Home / Companies / People /  No special privileges: Rishad Premji

It’s really tough being Rishad Premji, the 35-year-old son of Wipro Ltd’s billionaire founder Azim Premji. Ever since he joined Wipro as a general manager in 2007, speculation about when he will take over from his father has been escalating. For his part, the senior Premji has ensured that his son is groomed through the ranks and has maintained that he only represents the ownership.

His colleagues at Wipro describe Rishad as extremely shy, but a very diligent professional who has no choice but to live in the shadow of his father.

“He doesn’t have any special privileges, has to work through the internal system like anybody else. He will represent ownership in the future but that’s not how it’s being played out now. Sometimes, we are more in awe of his lineage than him," says a Wipro manager who has worked with the younger Premji and didn’t want to be named.

For now, that’s not the only challenge he faces, as he attempts to help Wipro regain lost growth and reinvigorate its strategy through acquisitions. As the chief strategy officer of Wipro’s information technology business, 2013 is perhaps the toughest test of the younger Premji’s learning from past assignments at GE Capital and Bain and Co. He has to ensure that Wipro’s existing top customers such as Citibank give more outsourcing projects to the company compared with rivals Tata Consultancy Services Ltd. Also, Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. is gaining more market share and has already overtaken Wipro this year in terms of annual revenue.

Premji completed his BA from Wesleyan University in the US, which included a year-long programme with the London School of Economics. After his MBA from Harvard Business School in 2005, he spent four years at GE Capital in the US, and another two years at Bain and Co. in London. He was interviewed by Girish Paranjpe, the then Wipro co-CEO, in London in 2007, before joining the company as a general manager in the banking and financial services division.

In 2009, he moved to Wipro’s investor relations and treasury department as general manager. In September 2010, he was promoted as chief strategy officer of Wipro’s information technology business, reporting to the then joint CEOs. In the five years he has spent at Wipro, Premji has helped the company make strategic acquisitions, including the $127 million buyout of Citi Technology Services in 2009, which came bundled with an outsourcing contract potentially worth $1 billion over many years.

Analysts tracking the company expect the younger Premji to play an even bigger role at Wipro this year as it pushes hard to regain a double-digit revenue growth rate.

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