Wipro – And the Road to Being a Corporate Powerhouse
In over 75 years, Wipro has grown from being a vegetable oil manufacturer to a multi-business corporation, especially IT
Muhammed Hasham Premji, often known as the “Rice King of Burma,” immigrated to India with his family and established a rice trading company in Bombay. Amalner is a tiny hamlet in the Jalgaon district of Maharashtra, around 350 kilometres from Bombay (now Mumbai), where he founded Western Indian Vegetable Products Ltd in 1945.
The firm used to produce Sunflower Vanaspati cooking oil and 787 laundry soap as a byproduct of oil production.
Muhammad Ali Jinnah apparently extended an invitation to Muhammed Hasham Premji to go to Pakistan after the partition. When creating the first government of Pakistan, Jinnah purportedly looked to Premji to serve as his Finance Minister. The businessman, however, turned down the offer and opted to stay in India.
Hasham Premji had four children. Two of them were girls, while the other two were boys. Azim, the youngest, departed for Stanford in 1963 to study engineering. In the same year, Azim Premji’s older brother, Faroukh M.H. Premji, also joined the company’s board of directors.
After serving as a board member for two years, Faroukh resigned in 1965 and relocated to Pakistan with his new wife.
The 51-year-old Hasham Premji passed away in Bombay from a heart attack on August 11, 1966. Gulbanoo Premji, the CEO’s wife, had to recall their youngest son from the United States to take charge of the firm. Azim Premji, two semesters short of finishing his four-year graduate degree, dropped out to work for the family firm. In the following two years, at 23, he was promoted to managing director.
As early as 1975, people may have seen the corporation shifting its focus away from producing cooking oil. Azim Premji expanded the company’s product offerings to include hydraulic cylinders, soaps, and lights. At M. Seethapathy Rao’s urging, Wipro Fluid Power was established to make hydraulic and pneumatic cylinders. Under P.S. Pai’s leadership, the firm branched into manufacturing soap, toilet paper, and infant care items. Wipro Products Ltd. became Wipro Ltd. in 1982 after the firm had been renamed in 1977 and 1982.
The US computer company IBM left in 1977 due to a disagreement with the government. Seeing this as a chance to make a fortune, Premji entered the computer sector in the 1980s. Premji was able to fill the void left by IBM. Eventually, he decided to change the name of his business to Wipro. In 1982, he began working with Sentinel Computer Corporation, a business located in the United States, to produce minicomputers; in 1986, the company released its first personal computer. Later, when the economy opened up in 1991, Premji realised he would face severe competition in hardware from international firms and shifted his attention to the software and outsourcing for which India is today famous.
Over the next half-century, AHP (as he became known to his coworkers) built Wipro into a household name, and in 2019, he handed over the chairmanship to his eldest son, Rishad.