Bengaluru: According to TK Kurien, Executive Vice Chairman of Wipro, Azim Premji is one of the biggest softies that you can ever find. Mr Kurien was talking to ET Now in an interview on Azim Premji completing 50 years at Wipro.
Azim Premji on Wednesday completed 50 years of leading Wipro. A known philanthropist, Premji is accredited for driving Wipro through diversification and growth. Premji is presently the Chairman of Wipro.
“He (Premji) is very much like a coconut. He is very hard outside, but he is very soft inside,” Kurien said in the interview.
Kurien credits Premji for being the “rock of comfort” for Wipro, especially during tough times. “…When the joint CEOs left it was very very tough phase. That was a phase where the organisation itself was fairly disturbed. I think the biggest role that Mr Premji played in all these phases was that he remained the rock of comfort for many of the employees,” Kurien said.
“He has been a very steady hand. And many people in the organisation know him personally. So the ability of people to go to him with their troubles and for him to listen to them has been one big differentiating factor for us. We are not a typical management based organisation. We are still an organisation where people listen to people and we are an emotional organisation at the heart of it, and that is what has really helped us,” he added.
Talking about Premji’s current role in the organisation, Kurien said, “He has decided to take a slightly different role from what he did in the past. I think what he has done is, he realises the fact that the business has become too big and too complex, so he still follows an open door policy as far as people are concerned, but the reality is that people who joined 10-12 years ago, those are the guys who know him well. They have the courage to go and talk to him. So things have changed a little bit.”
Asked whether he ever found it difficult to face Premji for an appraisal after a tough quarter, Kurien quips, “Not really!”. “One of the biggest qualities in him, which really forms the skeleton of the organisation is the ability to look at yourself critically,” he explained.
“I don’t think we have ever said we are great when we are not doing well. We have never said that we are great when we are doing well either. And that’s because we always look at ourselves in the mirror and say, can we do better? I think that’s a quality that goes down at every level of leadership. So you will never find a Wipro guy standing up and saying how great he is. It will never happen,” he added.