Saturday, June 16, 2007

How Wipro hired Premji's son

I commented in an earlier post about Aziz Premji's son, Rishad's, getting hired at Wipro. I wasn't ready to buy the story that Rishad was just another applicant who went through the normal screening process.

As if to rebut this perception, ET today has a story about how rigorous the process was.

So far, his father Azim Premji, one of India’s richest men, had resisted all attempts at bringing his family into the company. Wipro was a professionally managed company and Mr Premji did not want any talk of nepotism tarring that reputation.

Rishad had to face up to three industry stalwarts: Ashok Ganguly, a former chairman of HLL, N Vaghul, non-executive chairman of ICICI Bank and PM Sinha, a former CEO of Pepsico’s South Asia operations. As independent directors on the board of Wipro, one of the India’s best-known software firms, the three gentlemen had an onerous duty to perform. They had to see if Rishad, the son of the man who controlled more than 80% stake in the company, was fit enough to join his dad’s company

And, apparently, Rishad withstood the grilling and made it to Wipr0. As I said earlier, Rishad has impeccable credentials (Harvard MBA, consultant at Bain, etc) and, no doubt, he is in every way suited for a position at Wipro. But my question is: can you really expect directors who sit on Wipro courtesy of Premji to turn down his son for a position?

Given Rishad's credentials, Premji might have straight away inducted him into his firm without fuss. Everybody would have understood. Neither Dhirubhai Ambani nor Aditya Birla put their sons through an interview before bringing them into the company (Mukesh has an MBA from Stanford and Kumar Birla from LBS).

Only about a year ago, Aziz was saying he had no plans to bring Rishad on board. Now, we hear the same kind of talk about his succeeding Aziz.

Wipro continues to play down the importance of Rishad joining the company. Says a senior Wipro manager, “Someday he is going to inherit his father’s wealth, but for now there is no succession plan.”

Is Rishad going to succeed Aziz? You bet! Of course, this will happen after the board has satisfied itself that Rishad is the best person for the job.


Abi said...

Did you notice that the story came with a photograph of a 30-year old Azim Premji? The excuse was that ET didn't have Rishad's picture!

I guess this is how legends are created (made up?) ...

Even for something from the Times group, this was just too corny!

T T Ram Mohan said...

Abi, no, I didn't notice that!- I thought that was Rishad's photo.


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