Premji says son will not be CEO of Wipro

Published - January 23, 2013 07:07 pm IST - Davos

Azim Premji, Chairman, Wipro with his son Rishad Premji. File photo: G.R.N. Somashekar

Azim Premji, Chairman, Wipro with his son Rishad Premji. File photo: G.R.N. Somashekar

IT czar Azim Premji has said his son Rishad will never be the Chief Executive of his company Wipro, but will represent promoter ownership on the company’s board.

Mr. Rishad, 35, joined Wipro in 2007 as Business Head for Special Projects in the banking and financial services vertical and rose to become Chief Strategy Officer three years later.

Mr. Premji, who founded Wipro, said becoming CEO was not the career path for the eldest of his two sons.

“He (Rishad) is not going to be the chief executive officer, that’s not the career plan for him but, he would be representing ownership obviously,” the Chairman of Wipro, said in television interviews on sidelines of World Economic Forum in Davos.

Azim Premji directly owns 3.7 per cent in the company, while entities related to him own over another 74 per cent.

Mr. Rishad has a direct ownership of 0.03 per cent shares in Wipro. He has for long been speculated to be a natural choice for taking over the company’s operations.

Prior to joining Wipro, Mr. Rishad, a management graduate from Harvard Business School, worked with Bain & Co, working across segments like consumer products, automobiles, telecom and insurance.

There have been speculations of him being appointed as the CEO of the now demerged entity of Wipro, which will include the non-IT business.

The non-IT businesses of Wipro, which includes lighting, furniture, consumer care products and infrastructure engineering services, was hived off last year to focus on the core information technology business. It contributes about 10 per cent of the company’s revenues.

There have also been discussions around succession plans at Wipro after the retirement of Azim Premji, who is 67 now.

Asked about succession plans, Mr. Premji said, “We are always working with succession planning. It was right from the top to senior management level and that is the key responsibility of the board.”

Hinting at a bigger role for CEO T.K. Kurien, Mr. Premji said Mr. Kurien “certainly” could become the Managing Director.

“We have T.K. Kurien now in charge. So, very obviously he has taken over from me the mantel of the chief executive officer’s role... He certainly stands a chance of becoming the managing director. Our restructuring is going to make some changes,” he said.

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