Azim Premji, a graduate in electrical engineering from Stanford University, has been at the helm of Wipro Limited since the late 1960s, turning what was then a $2 million hydrogenated cooking fat company into an IT, BPO, and R&D services organization generating close to $8.5 billion in revenue, with a presence in 58 countries. Other Wipro companies led by Premji have revenues close to $2 billion and span sectors like consumer goods, precision engineering, and healthcare systems.
Azim firmly believes that businesses have a responsibility to employ ethical, fair, and ecologically sensitive business practices, and to engage with fundamental societal issues. Wipro is recognized as a global leader in sustainability for its social and environmental initiatives spanning all countries across its operational footprint.
In 2001, Azim established the Azim Premji Foundation, a not-for-profit organization focused on enhancing quality and equity in India’s public school system. The Foundation works with over 350,000 schools across seven Indian states. It also runs the Azim Premji University, which focuses on teaching and research programs in education and other areas of human development. Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiatives support not-for-profits working in areas of human development and education, such as nutrition, local governance, and well-being of vulnerable groups. Azim’s $15 billion donation to the Foundation’s endowment make it one of the largest foundations in the world.
Over the years, Azim Premji has received numerous honors and accolades, which he considers recognitions for the Wipro team and the Foundation. BusinessWeek listed him among the top 30 entrepreneurs in world history. Financial Times, Time, Fortune and Forbes have all named him as of one the most influential people in the world, citing his leadership in business and philanthropy, and contributions to improving public education. The Journal of Foreign Policy listed him among the top global thinkers. The Economic Times bestowed him with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Azim is the first Indian recipient of the Faraday Medal. He was awarded honorary doctorates by Michigan State University, Wesleyan University, and the Indian Institutes of Technology at Bombay, Roorkee, and Kharagpur, among others. The Republic of France awarded him their highest civilian award, Knight of the Legion of Honor. In January 2011, he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second highest civilian award. The Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy was bestowed on him in 2017, hailing the “conscience, integrity, and compassion that have guided his visionary giving…….(with) invaluable benefit to both that nation and to the world.”