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Azim Premji’s strength is the people he picks: Ashok Soota

"Premji’s leadership model was to be efficient, keep costs low and maximise profits," Soota told.

, ET Bureau|
Jun 07, 2019, 07.14 AM IST
He focused on two areas at Wipro — education and training.
A narration by Ashok Soota, Executive Chairman, Happiest Minds.

I will narrate my own experience of how Azim Premji hired me. In 1984, when he interviewed me for the position of President for the IT business, the interaction was done over several days. My interest in working with him increased due to the depth and detail he went into while hiring me. Premji knew that he was taking an important decision for his information technology business, and he had to make the right call.He personally met the people I had provided as references.

They would tell me how he would take detailed notes. One of Premji’s biggest strengths was the people he picked. The second aspect was that he would give a lot of latitude and freedom to the people who reported to him.'

That did not mean he was not hands-on. He went into a lot of detail, and when he took part in your decision-making, he would add value all the time. He would also ask questions. At the end of the day, if I took a decision, he would not overrule it. To use his own words, “I don’t want to take the monkey off your back.” Lots of people have questioned his idea of focusing on small things to cut costs.

He didn’t believe in ostentatious spending. Whether it was hotels or electricity, he looked for multiple ways to cut costs.

Premji’s leadership model was to be efficient, keep costs low and maximise profits.

With the profits he generated and the wealth he built, Premji actually has been generous through his philanthropy. He has celebrated the joy of giving and has inspired several people to get into philanthropy. Premji completely focused on building his business with the highest standards of corporate governance and integrity.

He focused on two areas at Wiproeducation and training. It was natural that when he got into philanthropy, he chose education. Premji has chosen the right person to succeed him.

Rishad is highly talented and knows the IT industry. He has taken charge at the right time. He is a bright young man and has got a good head on his shoulders.

Azim Premji has been a visionary leader, great manager and a wonderful human being.

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