[Assam] New York Times: Wipro chief: Training non-engineers to be engineers etc
jaipurschool at yahoo.com
Mon Sep 18 03:37:14 EDT 2006
> This is one option for a quick global career.
> Saturday Interview With Azim H. Premji
> Outsourcing: Its Been Good to Him
> By SARITHA RAI
> Published: September 16, 2006
> Azim H. Premji, 61, is chairman of Wipro, Indias
> third-largest outsourcing firm, with $2.39 billion
> in revenue last year. Mr. Premji, whose 81.4 percent
> ownership stake makes him Indias richest man, is
> known for his austere style, whether providing
> visitors recycled drinking water at the companys
> Bangalore headquarters or flying himself and his top
> executives in economy class.
> He talked recently about outsourcing, competition
> and education. Following are excerpts:
> Q. Has the furor over outsourcing cooled down?
> A. The debate in the United States is significantly
> more balanced. But what is not getting adequate
> focus is that globalization is a two-way street. If
> the United States wants access to Chinese, Indian or
> Vietnamese markets, we must get access to theirs.
> U.S. protectionism is very subtle but it is very
> much there.
> The important thing about outsourcing or global
> sourcing is that it becomes a very powerful tool to
> leverage talent, improve productivity and reduce
> work cycles. The West is not producing enough
> engineers. The United States will produce 75,000
> engineers this year; they will produce more sports
> therapists than engineers. Germany, the great
> engineering power of Europe, will produce 35,000
> engineers this year; they will produce more
> architects than engineers. Western companies want
> access to Indian talent, that is why they outsource,
> that is why they come to India to set up base.
> Q. Wipro began as a company making cooking oil and
> is now the third-largest outsourcing firm in India,
> but you still make cooking oil?
> A. Being in the consumer business helps us groom
> talent in areas like marketing, finance and
> logistics. We can benchmark our outsourcing business
> to our consumer business and its best practices.
> Plus, our consumer business is independent,
> profitable, growing at 25 percent annual growth
> rates and is now of a respectable size.
> Q. In 1977, Indias socialist government sent I.B.M.
> packing. Was that the turning point for Wipros
> technology business?
> A. Their leaving gave us a chance to build the
> business from the start and we also learned to have
> a high degree of sensitivity to the customer. I.B.M.
> was not really bringing their best technologies to
> India. They were dumping old machines in the country
> that had been thrown away in the rest of the world
> 10 years before. Now they have a vastly changed
> attitude and they are back with a frenzy.
> Q. You came into managing the company recently,
> after several executives had brought your
> outsourcing business to a level of success. Do you
> enjoy being so hands-on?
> A. We have transitioned; we have collapsed the
> corporate office into the business office and
> de-layered our structure. We have four presidents
> who run the four businesses; each of these
> businesses is under a billion dollars in revenue. We
> continue to see it working well.
> Q. Now global consulting firms like I.B.M. and
> Accenture are your competitors and they are
> investing billions of dollars in India. Is that a
> threat to your business model?
> A. The fact that I.B.M. and Accenture are
> cannibalizing our model is a rubber-stamp
> endorsement of the global delivery model. It
> legitimizes our business from the customer point of
> view. But in terms of the quality processes,
> business model changes and fulfilling employee
> career goals, our domestic competitors and we are
> two to three years ahead of global consultancy
> Q. Is finding talent an increasing challenge for
> firms like Wipro?
> A. Talent is in short supply everywhere. At Wipro,
> we are training nonengineers to be engineers. We
> hired 2,500 of them last year and coach them on the
> job. Thus, we are supplementing engineering talent
> on a significant scale.
> Q. You dropped out of graduate school at Stanford to
> take charge of Wipro when your father died in 1966,
> but you have since made education your cause. How
> has it become so important to you?
> A. Because education is the fulcrum for an equitable
> society. A girl child who is even a little bit
> educated is more conscious of family planning,
> health care and, in turn, her childrens own
> education. Thus, we are killing three birds with one
> stone. I am particularly interested in primary
> education because the state of affairs in primary
> education in this country is a cause for concern.
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Ed.M. - International Education Policy
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Class of 2005
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