After recent rejig at Wipro, all eyes on Rishad Premji

After the latest organisational restructuring, Wipro, India’s third-largest information technology services company, will see certain changes at the board level. The company will be looking to fill the position that will go vacant with Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Suresh Senapaty retiring on Tuesday.

According to sources within and outside the company, Wipro is going to elevate Chairman Azim Premji’s elder son, Rishad, chief strategy officer at present, into the board. An announcement is likely in the coming quarter.

Business Standard’s emailed query on the timing of Rishad’s induction to the board, sent to the company a few days ago, did not elicit any response. But several company insiders confirmed this was “more or less certain” and only a matter of time before an announcement.

Chairman Azim Premji has in the past said Rishad would eventually represent himself (his investment) on the board. “Rishad has been in the company for the past eight years. He has grown from a senior manager to the level of a chief strategy officer. We have also said he would at some stage represent the company’s shareholding, on the board. But when that actually happens is for the board to decide,” Saurabh Govil, Wipro’s global head of human resources, told Business Standard.

Following Senapaty’s retirement on March 31, Wipro’s board strength will be reduced to nine, including two executive directors – Chairman Premji and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) T K Kurien.

Rishad, who has a masters degree from Harvard Business School, joined the company in June 2007, as a business manager in the banking and finance division. He has since risen steadily and taken critical roles, such as those of treasury & investor relations head and chief strategy officer (CSO). As CSO, he is managing key functions like investor relations, corporate affairs, mergers & acquisitions and Wipro Ventures.

Before joining Wipro, Rishad also worked with some global companies, such as Bain Consulting and GE. In the latest reorganisation, Rishad has been given a new responsibility under which the chief technology officer’s (CTO’s) office will also report to him. According to the company, this move aims to enable future strategy formulation on the basis of technology trends; the CTO office is responsible for identifying such trends.

“It is only logical that technology trends drive future strategy at technology companies. So, it is important that we bring all these pieces together. That is the reason why the CTO will now report to Rishad,” Govil said, explaining the new responsibility. Last week, Wipro had announced a series of internal restructuring within the company. These were said to be the most significant ones since 2011, when the joint-CEO model was eliminated, leading to the exits of Suresh Vaswani and Girish Paranjpe (the joint CEOs). In the latest round of rejig, the company has created the positions of group president and chief operating officer (COO); Tata Consultancy Services veteran Abid Ali Neemuchwala has been appointed to this post.

Also, the Bengaluru-headquartered company has promoted two service line heads as presidents and created a new service line, Wipro Analytics, to replace the advance technologies & solutions one. The company has also formed an independent business unit, Wipro Digital, and relocated Rajan Kohli, who earlier headed the banking & financial services vertical, to head the new business.

The change that attracted the greatest attention, however, was Neemuchwala’s appointment. The move was widely seen as the company’s broader strategy of grooming him for the role of CEO in the future. This also triggered speculation that Kurien’s tenure might not be extended beyond 2015. “Let me clarify the gentleman (Neemuchwala) has not yet joined us, so it will be premature to say that (that he will be CEO). Besides, as Kurien himself has said, he is not going anywhere and his contract will be renewed – absolutely,” Govil said.


  • Rishad Premji (pictured), who has a masters degree from Harvard Business School, joined Wipro in June 2007, as a business manager in the banking and finance division
  • He has since risen steadily within the company, taking critical responsibilities like those of treasury & investor relations head and chief strategy officer
  • Rishad has been given additional responsibility of CTO’s office in the latest rejig. The CTO will report to him
  • Before joining Wipro, Rishad worked with global companies like Bain Consulting and GE