The World According to Azim Premji

“He built an outsourcing empire that works for Fortune 500 companies, and still makes cooking oil. He became India’s biggest high-tech tycoon, then finished his bachelor’s degree. It all makes sense, once you get to know him.”

Joel McCormick in Stanford Magazine:

Premji_openerPremji was just finishing his engineering studies at Stanford in 1966 when he got word of his father’s sudden death. “It came as a complete shock,” he says. “I just had to rush back.” He had only one term until his graduation, a passage the news would delay 30 years. (Premji eventually sought—and got—permission to attend arts courses by correspondence to complete the requirements for his bachelor’s degree. “I had met all the core requirements for engineering—I just wanted that degree.”)

At 21 he had to get down to running Western India Vegetable Products Limited (a name later shortened to Wipro). Oddly enough, the thought of managing the family concern had never entered his head. “My interest was more in developing countries, more in a World Bank kind of a thing.” When Wipro began piling up profits, Premji turned his attention back to development causes, starting corporate and family foundations devoted largely to overhauling primary education across the country.

As it happened, his dad had had other interests himself and hadn’t been very keen on minding the store. Mohamed Hasham Premji, according to India Today, had been invited by Muhammad Ali Jinnah to come to Pakistan to serve as finance minister in the country’s first cabinet.

More here.