Mumbai / Wipro splits Rishad’s role among three executives

Livemint : Jun 27, 2019, 06:40 PM
With Rishad Premji set to become the chairman of Wipro Ltd on 31 July, India’s fourth-largest software services company has split his current role among three executives.

Chief executive officer and executive director Abidali Z. Neemuchwala who will also be re-designated as CEO and managing director will oversee mergers and acquisitions while chief financial officer Jatin Dalal will handle Wipro Ventures, the company’s $100 million corporate venture arm. Government relations will be handled by Wipro’s general counsel, Deepak Acharya.

Earlier this month, billionaire and philanthropist Azim Premji decided to step down from his current role at the company he led for more than half a century to devote more time to his charity work.

Azim Premji will continue as a non-executive director and founder chairman while Rishad will be the executive chairman.

Rishad has been so far overseeing corporate strategy, which includes M&A, Wipro Ventures, and relations with investors and the government.

A spokesperson for Wipro confirmed the changes.

“Subsequent to the appointment of Rishad Premji as Executive Chairman, effective 31 July 2019 subject to shareholder approval, his current roles and responsibilities will be aligned," said the spokesperson.

Rishad set up Wipro Ventures in 2015 and, under his watch, Wipro Ventures has deployed $65 million, or two-thirds of its corpus, in 18 startups and has helped its parent in more than 100 deals, underscoring the early success of the software services company in tapping into the disruptive startup ecosystem. Wipro Ventures is jointly managed by Venu Pemmaraju, formerly a senior investment manager at Intel Capital, and Wipro executive Biplab Adhya.

Both Pemmaraju and Adhya are based out of California and will now report to CFO Dalal.

A Harvard Business School alumnus, Rishad, 41, worked with GE Capital for four years and then with Bain and Co. in London for two years before returning to India to work with Wipro in 2007. Over the last 13 years, Rishad has worked across multiple departments in the company before being inducted to the board in 2015.

Other changes are also in line. Mint reported last week that Wipro’s lead independent director Narayanan Vaghul and chairman of the board’s nomination and remuneration panel Ashok Ganguly will retire next month, marking an end to their stints of more than two decades each. Both Vaghul and Ganguly were re-appointed for a three-year term in 2016, which ends on 31 July.

The changes come at a time when Wipro is trying to return to the growth pedestal. Wipro, which managed a 0.74% dollar growth in revenue in the year ended 31 March 2019 at $8.12 billion, has not reported double-digit growth in revenue in the last seven years.