Wipro’s Inspirational Business Story
Some business stories show that with the right vision and a drive to grow consistently, anything is possible. Wipro is one such company profile offering certain learnings that can tempt the entrepreneurial spirit in any new and upcoming small business.
Wipro (Western India Products) was started from a family grain trading business which was expanded into oil manufacturing in 1945 by Mohamedhussain Hasham Premji at the young age of 21. Over the next two decades, the business continued to grow successfully, producing the iconic sunflower vanaspati oil used in Indian cooking.
His son, Azim Premji took over the reins of the family business after his father’s untimely death in 1966. For the next 50+ years, Azim Premji took the company on an exhilarating journey of growth, moving away from oil manufacturing, and towards computer hardware like minicomputers, consumer products and industrial equipment. In the 90s, Wipro found its calling as an early player in the fast growing Information Technology (IT) industry. Today, Wipro is India's third most-valued IT company in terms of market capitalization.
Wipro is founded by a family with a deep rooted entrepreneurial spirit. Staying close to their values and mission to serve and grow, it didn’t matter if the family traded grains, manufactured oil or produced minicomputers; they proved that for a business to succeed in any industry, the basic foundation needs to be strong yet pivotable.
Wipro has created a long-standing culture of excellence within their employees, who clearly support and aspire towards a common goal along with the founders. As a leader, Azim Premji, who led the company for 53 years, has publicly modeled his company’s focus on honesty and to never compromise on their family values.
There are two main aspects that create success in a business: one is its employees and the other is the customers they serve. Wipro has stayed keenly attuned to the basic principle of business management of meeting the evolving needs of their clients within every industry that they have served. One could go so far as to say, for Wipro, this has been an obsession, making sure to grow aggressively in the direction of the market’s voice.
Knowing that the IT industry was growing at a fast pace internationally, they saw an opportunity for India and expanded globally, even getting listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in 2000. Their stellar profits prompted the family business to dive deeper into their philanthropic values, giving back to the society that helped create their success. In 2019, Azim Premji stepped down and his son, Rishad Premji, took over as Chairman, joined by Thierry Delaporte, who took the reins as current CEO in 2020.
Keeping with the times, almost 90% of Wipro’s workforce around the world works from home, with skeleton staff at locations that require people to come in. Wipro leads by example even during the pandemic by helping employees and their families get vaccinated in a safe manner.
The inspirational stories that define Wipro have remained consistent through the 75 years of business. If we had to pick just three takeaways from this company, the first would be their honest approach to business, irrespective of the industry they were operating in. Followed by the creation of an extended family-like company culture by placing the focus on their employees and customers, who form the support structure of any successful operation. And the final takeaway would be their adherence to philanthropic principles of giving back to society. Something we saw in full effect when their leader Azim Premji gave away 73% of his wealth to charity in 2019.
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