Wipro Products Ltd was run by Premji’s father. In 1966, Pemji was completing his degree in engineering at Stanford University when his father died. He later was able to finish getting his degree in electrical engineering with correspondence courses. .Just 21, Premji took over the family oil business.
Under Premji’s leadership Wipro Corporation began to expand and diversify. General Electric used Wipro to manufacture light bulbs, shampoo, baby care products and powder. By 1975, Penji started Wipro Fluid Power to make hydraulic cylinders and also truck tippers.
In the 1980’s IMBM was kicked out of India creating a vacuum in the technology field. With Pemji’s interest in electrical engineering, Wipro was a natural entry into the IT field. Wipro was issued a special license from Sentinel. They began manufacturing hardware for computers and then branched out to software development.
Wipro is the largest outsourcing company in India and its research and development unit is the world largest independent group. Under Pemji’s guidance,
Wipro grew from a $1.5 million oil company to a $662 million diversified conglomerate.
Premji believes in growth through delivering value with integrity to the customer. Wipro became the first Indian company to implement the Six Sigma program. It was also achieved SEI CMM Level 5 (the first software company to earn this distinction), and it also achieved PCMM Level 5 (People Capability Maturity Model), the world’s first organization to gain this level.
Pemji has been awarded numerous honors. Honors in 2000 included an honorary doctorate by both the Manipal Academy of Higher Education in India and Roorkee and the Business Man of the Year by Business India. In 2003, Forbes named Pemji to two distinguished lists – one of the 10 people globally, who have the most “power to effect change” and one of the 25 most powerful business leaders outside the US, Also in 2003, and Business Week had Pemji’s picture on its October cover titled “India’s Tech King”. In 2004, his honors included top 25 billionaires who have done most to bring about significant and lasting social, political or cultural changes by the Financial Times, and as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. In 2005, he received one of his countries highest honors for a civilian, the Padmabhushana. He is a member of the Prime Minister’s Advisory Committee for Information Technology in India.
Established by Premji in 2001, the Azim Premji Foundation focuses on quality education to build a just, equitable and humane society. 1.8 million children are partaking in various programs. The Foundation’s does not focus primarily on Information Technology education, but instead it tries to improve the quality of general education, especially in rural schools. Over 70 educational CD’s have been created for Indian schools.