Azim Premji was born in Bombay (now Mumbai) to reputed businessman Muhammed Hashem Premji and doctor and social worker, Dr. Gulbanoo M H Premji. Hashem had registered a company called Western Indian Vegetable Products Ltd in Jalgaon District of Maharashtra and manufactured a cooking oil, branded Sunflower Vanaspati along with laundry soap called ‘787’ from the by-product. Such was his reputation that Mohammed Ali Jinnah personally invited him to shift to Pakistan following the partition; but he refused. Hashem unfortunately passed away in 1966 and Azim, who was at that moment pursuing his Electrical Engineering at Stanford University, had to give up his studies and come back to India to take charge of the company. He actually went on to complete his graduation from Stanford after 30 years.
Premji diversified the business set up by his father and they came out with new products including toiletries manufactured from ethnic ingredients, beauty and baby care products, lighting items as well as hydraulic cylinders. In the early 1980s, Premji realized the emerging importance of IT industry and decided to become an early mover, taking full advantage of the fact that IBM had just been expulsed from the country. The company was renamed Wipro and it started the manufacturing of Mini-Computers partnering with US Based Sentinel Computer Corporation for technological collaboration. The rest as they say is history as Wipro Limited is recognized as one of the pioneers in the IT Industry, and he has been dubbed as the ‘Czar’ of the Indian IT Industry.
Premji is married to Yasmeen Premji and the two of them are parents to two sons – Rishad and Tariq. Rishad has since 2019 taken over the mantle of Chairmanship of Wipro after serving as Chief Strategy Officer in the organization for close to a decade. Tariq takes care of the philanthropic side of work in the Azim Premji foundation, whilst also heading the consumer care and lighting divisions.