Azim Premji: From Stanford to Sarjapur
The Stanford Alumni Magazine profiles Azim Premji’s growth story in this insightful article. Among other things, Premji’s sentimental attachment for his Consumer Care business (Wipro’s Vanaspathi and Santoor are part of this) is fairly evident.
“Our biggest problem today is getting senior management to transfer to the United States,” Premji says. “If they want to go with their families it’s too complicated because they’re too comfortable here—they have high disposable income, they have the advantage of servants, the advantage of a chauffeur.”
Complicating matters further are the so-called NRIs, nonresident Indians who hanker for home. The journey back can be bumpy. In his recent memoir/biography, Two Lives, Vikram Seth, MA ’79, describes the trap young Indians can fall into when they’re drawn to the United States: they take a few laps in the pool and emerge to discover they’re 50, raising kids who are more American than Indian, and strapped to a mortgage— finding themselves “so embedded in their temporary lives” that they only return home on brief visits when a parent becomes ill or dies.
Premji, too, has seen how America’s melting pot can bend Indians out of shape. “Our experience typically with Indians who have been in the United States for 10 or 15 years is they become cultural misfits. If they haven’t become cultural misfits, their families have become cultural misfits for India, so we would be very hesitant to take back an Indian settled in America for 15 years into a senior position.