Second sonrise at Wipro as Tariq Premji joins board

Bengaluru: Tariq Premji, 40, the youngest son of Wipro Ltd chairman and India’s second-richest businessman Azim Premji, has joined the board of Wipro Enterprises Pvt. Ltd, estimated to have a revenue of $1.4 billion.

Wipro Enterprises chose the youngest scion of the Premji family as an additional director last week, said an executive familiar with the development. Tariq is the third family member to join the board, after his father and his elder brother Rishad Premji.

Privately-held Wipro Enterprises is the parent of Wipro Consumer Care, which recently crossed $1 billion in annual revenue, and Wipro Infrastructure and Engineering, estimated to generate over $400 million in revenue.

The remaining three members on the six-member board of Wipro Enterprises are Suresh Senapaty, former chief financial officer of Wipro Ltd; Vineet Agrawal, chief executive officer (CEO) of the company’s consumer care and lighting business; and Pratik Kumar, CEO of Wipro Infrastructure Engineering.

Since 2016, Tariq has been on the board of two philanthropic arms of the Wipro empire—the Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiatives and Azim Premji Foundation.

When contacted, a company spokesperson confirmed the development. “Wipro Enterprises is a private limited company and Tariq Premji’s appointment is in accordance with the provisions of the Companies Act, 2013. His independent objective view will add value to the board’s deliberations.”

While Rishad joined Wipro in 2007, Tariq had been part of the Azim Premji Foundation since 2012, working under his father’s trusted lieutenant, K.R. Lakshminarayana.

Tariq studied at Mumbai’s St. Mary’s School for a brief period, and graduated with a degree in commerce from St. Joseph’s College, Bengaluru. He worked at a BPO firm for less than a year before joining PremjiInvest, the family office of Azim Premji. After a year there, he joined the endowment arm of his family’s business. Tariq is lean and tall, and sports a ponytail. His colleagues describe him as reserved and self-effacing.

Both Tariq and Rishad are extremely close to each other despite their different career paths, and have been supportive of each other through their ups and downs, according to two executives known to the family who spoke on condition of anonymity. He has a private Facebook profile and, like his father and brother, does not have a Twitter or a LinkedIn account.

Like other members of the Premji family, Tariq’s private life is off-limits to colleagues and the media. He declined to speak for this story. However, according to his colleagues, he is even-tempered like his elder brother and prefers to be addressed by his first name. While Rishad lives with his wife and two children in their own house and drives to work in his red Mini Cooper hatchback, Tariq is single and stays at his family home in the south-east edge of Bengaluru’s Sarjapur.

Tariq’s workplace, a two-storeyed red-brick building which houses the two philanthropic organizations, and the family house share a boundary wall. Like his father, he walks down to his office.

Before he shifted to Bengaluru in 2012, Tariq was a high-flying socialite, often spotted with movie stars in Mumbai. Unlike his straight-laced older brother who holds a Harvard Business School degree, Tariq was often seen as an outlier within his own family. Up until now, it was always clear that Rishad was the anointed one to look after the family business and represent the family’s ownership on the board.

“A lateral thinker”, is how one executive described Tariq.

Rishad, chief strategy officer of Wipro Ltd, is already on the board of Wipro Enterprises and Wipro-GE, the healthcare joint venture between Wipro and General Electric Ltd, besides the two philanthropic organisations.