In his last address to shareholders as Executive Chairman of Wipro, Azim Premji on Tuesday said the information technology (IT) services firm is focusing on four new-age technology areas such as digital, cloud, engineering services, and cybersecurity to drive its growth.
After more than five decades of chairmanship of the company, Premji will pass on the mantle to his son Rishad Premji at the end of July, though he will continue to serve on the board as non-executive director and founder chairman.
“Based on the approval from the board, we have decided to step up our investments significantly in these four big bets,” said Premji, addressing the shareholders at the 73rd annual general meeting held in Bengaluru on Tuesday.
Apart from investing in new technologies, Premji also cited the example of divesture of Wipro’s datacentre business during the last financial year as a bid to remain lean as a business, which improved the return on capital employed by the company.
On the future leadership under Rishad, the outgoing chairman said he brought new ways of thinking, experience, and competence that will lead Wipro to greater heights. “He has been an integral part of the leadership team since 2007, and has a deep understanding of the company, business strategy, culture, and heritage,” Premji said.
After stepping down from the executive role, Premji said he would dedicate most of his time and energy to the philanthropic efforts of the Azim Premji Foundation.
“My own thinking of wealth and philanthropy is that we must remain ‘trustees’ of our wealth for society, not its owners. As announced earlier, I have irrevocably renounced more of my personal assets and earmarked them to the endowment which supports the Azim Premji Foundation’s philanthropic activities,” Premji said.
Currently, the total value of the corpus donated by Premji stands at around $21 billion, constituting 67 per cent of economic ownership of Wipro. In wealth terms, this is the highest-ever commitment of any Indian business tycoon towards charitable activities.
The Premji Foundation, set up in 2001, works to improve access to primary education in India, including some of its most disadvantaged parts. Premji’s philanthropic initiatives also help in improving the lives of street children and the physically-challenged. The Foundation also runs the Azim Premji University in Bengaluru.
Last month, Wipro announced a major reshuffle in the top management in which apart from passing on the mantle of chairmanship to Rishad, the IT firm also announced Abidali Neemuchwala as managing director, in addition to his role as chief executive officer.