Thierry Delaporte is on the move. It's his guiding philosophy. "What truly resonates in my head is the advice I'd gotten one day when I was pretty young in my career. My boss told me to always be on the move. When you want to do something, do it. Do it now. Don't wait. Do it now, and listen to your guts. Don't miss the opportunity to do what you feel right now."
As if anticipating the followup question, Delaporte added, "When you're wrong, correct it, and then move on." Indecisiveness is the biggest mistake, in his view. "People are just afraid to make decisions, and they feel that it will be easier somehow by waiting. But not making a decision is a mistake in itself."
It's hard to be on the move in a time of a global pandemic. Like so many of us, Delaporte does his work remotely, seeing the world — and being seen — through a computer screen. That's been hard on him. When Delaporte became the new Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Wipro, an India-headquartered multinational IT and business solutions company, he anticipated a different sort of beginning. "In my mind, I assumed that the first day of my job, I would jump on a plane and would spend the entire week meeting people in Bangalore and other cities in India." COVID-19 kept him grounded.
He waxed nostalgic about conducting business in person. "I miss the small talk and the coffee machine. I miss the glass of wine with colleagues in the evening. I miss, you know, the selfie or the smile or joke with our people." As he talks, it's easy to see why these personal connections are so important to Delaporte.
Wipro's new CEO believes in and is committed to team-building, fostering what he calls a collective spirit. He even goes so far as to say, "I like being surrounded by people better than me." While super-talented people might unnerve some, Delaporte sees their presence as an advantage. "Because, at the end of the day," he says, "everybody wins when you’re learning from each other and helping each other improve."
However, Delaporte knows that surrounding yourself with exceptional people doesn't matter if everyone isn’t working as a team. "You may have the greatest player on the pitch," explains Delaporte, a football fan himself, "but if they don't work together, they don't play together, you don't have a unified team."
He brings that commitment to teamwork to Wipro, which he considers a people business. "We are a people business. It's all about people,” he emphasizes, “It's all about people — and I think you need to understand what is in their head and their heart as well." He enjoys work most when working on teams that are aligned and purposefully moving in the same direction. Not only is this camaraderie good for business, "it's my greatest pleasure. That's what I like doing."
Despite the virtual start to his tenure as CEO, Delaporte remains hopeful: "A window will open. We just have to be patient for that," he says.
Delaporte says his primary motivation is to "build something that you know will stand on its own, that's going to last. That truly motivates me."
One team Delaporte is proud to lead is that of Life Project 4 Youth (LP4Y). This international effort includes 10,000 members across 14 different countries. They identify young adults between 17 and 24 years old who live in extreme poverty conditions. The organization enrolls these youth in an 18-month program that teaches them business, social, and other skills. Micro-economic initiatives boost their confidence and pave the way for their future endeavors. In fact, the organization's name itself refers to its overall impact on the individuals it serves. "It builds their project for life, so that goes beyond the work itself. We ask them to clearly define their projects, which helps them see themselves and their future success."
When he isn't working for Wipro or getting involved in LP4Y, personal connection remains crucial to Delaporte. Besides his hobbies of running, sailing, hiking, football, and other sports he says clear his mind and keep him healthy, he enjoys spending time with his wife of 28 years, Isabelle, and their three daughters, Inès, Flore, and Verane, and son Arthur.
"[My family] is my biggest pride," he says.
It all ties back to making sure his relationships — both personal and professional — leave an impact.
"What drives me every day is truly connecting with others," he says.