Miljardööri Azim Premji kannattaa minimalistista elämäntyyliä

Azim Premji on 17 miljardin omaisuudellaan Intian kolmanneksi rikkain. "Minulla on tyydyttävä elämäntyyli ja perheelläni on tyydyttävä elämäntyyli.. Kuinka paljon oikeasti tarvitsee kuluttaa?"

Azim Premji yöpyy mieluummin vierasmajoissa, hostelleissa, "Guest houseissa" kuin luksushotelleissa, matkustaa turistiluokassa lentokoneissa, ajaa Toyota Corollalla (ennen 9 vuotta vanha Ford Escort). Hänen poikansa häiden kunniaksi syöty lounas syötiin paperilautaselta.
"If you happen to be flying economy on one of India's wonderful, efficient new airlines, you might find yourself sitting next to a dignified gentleman with a trim mustache and swept-back snow-white hair. A university dean, you might think, or a high-court judge. In fact, this is Azim Premji, chairman of the IT outsourcing giant Wipro.

Premji is worth about $17 billion, making him India's fifth-richest man, so he doesn't need to fly coach. He does it to make a point. The point isn't that he's a man of the people. A soft-spoken, cerebral man of 63, he's far from folksy. The point is that Wipro, as Premji puts it, is "a middle-class company."

By that he means honest, hard-working, disciplined and modest—extravagant in nothing except its ambition to serve customers and become a better company. If that sounds a bit preachy, it's because Premji is on a mission: to turn Wipro, and by extension all of corporate India, into an ultralean competitor whose management practices are among the most advanced in the world.

The stereotypical emerging-economy billionaire is a bumptious wheeler-dealer who gets ahead by exploiting his government connections or his country's cheap labour. Premji shatters that mould. Methodical, precise, quietly driven, he is building a company that is as smart, professional and modern as any in the West—perhaps more so.

Wipro spends a lot of time talking and thinking about its values, and they are positively Presbyterian—if that's the right word for a company led by a Muslim in a majority Hindu country. Its executives only fly business class when travelling overseas. They stay in guest houses or budget hotels when possible. The company analyzed waste in its cafeteria and found that each employee threw away about 85 grams of food a day. So it published weekly data and cut food waste by 38%. It also metered water use and began recycling waste water, as well as collecting rainwater during India's monsoons.

The push for frugality started in the 1980s, when Wipro was trying to break into the global software game. After enduring the 20-hour trip from Bangalore to California's Silicon Valley in economy class, its engineers would often bunk three to a room, sharing food like college students.

Premji himself drives a four-year-old Toyota Corolla, a step up from the Ford Escort he owned for nine years. He lives in a modest bungalow bordering Wipro's headquarters campus. "I have a decent lifestyle and my family has a decent lifestyle. How much can you consume, really?" he said when I visited him in Bangalore last winter. When I reminded him that not all Indian tycoons feel that way—Mukesh Ambani, India's richest man, is building a 27-storey mansion for his family in Mumbai—he said, with evident disdain, "They're making fools of themselves doing this."

Wipro is no sweatshop. The headquarters campus is gorgeous, with airy, low-rise buildings spread over lawns and gardens. Fitness and yoga classes are held on site. The company hands out stock options and big raises to its top performers. Dedicated to constantly upgrading employees' skills, it spends top dollar to bring in trainers and management gurus.

But Premji's frugality has made a mark on the company's 95,000 employees. Everyone is cost-conscious. "Wipro shaves expenses in thousands of tiny ways, day in and day out," writes BusinessWeek reporter Steve Hamm in his book on Wipro, Bangalore Tiger.

Frugality goes hand in hand with integrity. When Premji took over the family business in 1966, it was a cooking oil company, Western India Vegetable Products, and he decided it would refuse to pay bribes. When his son joined Wipro last year, Premji made it clear that the young man would rise, or not, on merit alone.

The message to customers: This is a company you can trust. Premji says Wipro has climbed into the same league as global IT-services giants such as IBM and Accenture, "but it's more humble. We listen to our customers. We're not full of ourselves."

Wipro lays out its commitments to customers in detailed contracts on every job. Managers, employees and business units are all expected to set goals and track their work. Profits have doubled over the past three years.

All of this may sound uptight for a freewheeling place like India, but the country is changing fast. Premji is doing for management what the Japanese did in manufacturing in the 1960s and '70s—taking techniques pioneered in the West and making them better. And you'd better believe he's doing it on the cheap." lähde The Globe and Mail