Rishad Premji Inching Towards The Top Job

by CXOtoday News Desk    Oct 06, 2014


India’s third-biggest IT company Wipro may witness a “generational shift” soon as Rishad Premji, the elder son of scion founder Azim Premji is set to join the board. According to an Economic Times report, Rishad, now the company’s head of strategy, is set to join the board “sometime next year”, citing two people familiar with the matter. The report also said company veteran and CFO Suresh Senapaty retires next March.

Experts believe this will possibly be a major step towards getting the top job at the group, considering Senapaty will also retire next year, says the report.

Rishad joined the IT major as a business finance solutions manager in 2007, looking after the Banking and Financial Services Vertical (BFSI). In this role he championed Wipro’s entry into the mortgage business as an end to end provider of solutions in the origination and servicing space. This led to the acquisition of Gallagher Financial Systems, now called Wipro Gallagher Solutions.

In the BFSI space, Rishad also spearheaded the integration of Wipro Services following Wipro’s acquisition of the Citibank captive in the application and infrastructure space. He later moved to Corporate as Head of Relations, where he helped significantly scale up the systems, processes, and interactions with both internal and external stakeholders.

He was elevated to the position of Chief Strategy officer in 2010. In this role, he has been instrumental in shaping Wipro’s strategy and aligning it with the future business landscape.

Prior to joining Wipro, Rishad was with Bain & Co. in their Office where he worked on assignments across Consumer Products, Automobiles, Telecom and Insurance. He also worked with GE Capital in the US across several businesses throughout the Insurance and Consumer Lending space and is a graduate of GE’s Financial Management Program (FMP).

While Rishad loved his jobs at Baines and had no fixed plans to join Wipro, when he planned to do so with an objective to make an impact, Rishad had to send his CV across like any other candidate and was interviewed just like one approach for a new job. “It was important to me because I got accepted for what I brought to the table,” he said in an interview with the Business Standard.

Rishad is on the Board of Wipro Enterprises Limited, a leading player in the FMCG & Infrastructure Engineering space with sales of $1B. He is also on the board of Wipro-GE, a joint venture between Wipro and General Electric in the healthcare domain and on the board of the Foundation, one of the largest not-for-profit initiatives in India focused on improving school education working with over 350,000 schools across the country.

He has an MBA from Harvard Business School (HBS) and graduated with a BA in Economics from Wesleyan University in the US. He has also spent a year at the School of Economics where he was part of the Program. Rishad has also been recognized as a Young Global Leader 2014 by the Forum for his outstanding leadership, professional accomplishments, and commitment to society.

Experts said it makes sense for Premji to have his son represent the family while he is still on the board to ensure the transition. “The transition of leadership in a family enterprise is a challenging period for all stakeholders,” Fassler, a BCG consultant told ET. He however, notes that said senior Premji’s presence on board will help “bring comfort to all stakeholders” even as Rishad takes the next step to join the board.

As Rishad joins the board of Wipro, he will reportedly continue to retain his current position as head of strategy, said the report, noting however that Wipro declined to comment officially, and a member asked not to speculate about board appointments.