2 min read.Updated: 23 Jul 2014, 11:51 PM ISTAnirban Sen
Firm says improved demand seen across geographies; adequate succession plan in place for chairman, CEO roles
Bangalore: Days after Wipro Ltd won its largest ever outsourcing contract from Canadian firm Atco Ltd, the company’s billionaire chairman Azim Premji said that Wipro was benefiting from a pick-up in demand for information technology (IT) services from top clients across all geographies.
At Wipro’s annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday, Premji, who will turn 69 on Thursday, also said the company had an adequate succession plan in place for the chairman and chief executive officer’s (CEO) roles, and that the board reviews the roles of the chairman and CEO twice every year.
In February last year, Mint had reported that Premji had begun to set the stage for his retirement, citing several people aware of the developments, who all requested anonymity.
According to the people, Premji had started to hand over executive responsibilities to professional managers and was preparing to elevate elder son Rishad Premji to board seats across different company units before 2015.
Last year, Premji even stopped attending post-earnings press conferences. His last appearance at a post-earnings press conference was in April 2013.
“In India and our key markets, there is stability and optimism about the demand environment. We are seeing improved demand for IT services across geographies. We are excited at the opportunities and are aligning our strategy and execution to win these opportunities," Premji said during his speech.
Premji’s comments on improved demand will reassure investors on a potential return to double-digit growth at Wipro, which has lagged all its top peers such as Tata Consultancy Services Ltd and Infosys Ltd over the past three years.
Three years after he took over the reins at Wipro after Premji scrapped the dual-CEO model, CEO T.K. Kurien is racing against time to resurrect Wipro’s fortunes and ensure that the firm closes the gap with larger arch-rival Infosys.
Last week, Wipro signed a $1.1 billion outsourcing contract with Canada’s Atco, one of the largest contracts that have been signed in India’s $118 billion IT industry in the past decade, and also bought over Atco’s IT services business for $195 million.
During Wednesday’s annual general meeting, Premji also said that Wipro currently has about 8% of its women workforce in senior roles, at the general manager and senior vice-president levels.
He indicated is also taking significant steps to reskill all its staff, at a time when companies are aggressively automating commoditized plain-vanilla IT services to improve revenue productivity.
Automation is considered to be one of the biggest disruptive threats to India’s multi-billion-dollar IT industry, which has traditionally grown every year through the “pyramid model" where revenue growth is directly linked to manpower addition.
“We realize the importance of upgrading the skills of our workforce to take advantage of the opportunities that arise from new and innovative technologies. Towards that end, we are investing significant amount of resources to reskill and upgrade the competency of our employees," Premji said.
“We are focused on our goal of profitable growth and have the financial strength to make organic and inorganic investment as necessary," he added.
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