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Since 1st March, 1999
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From pro to promoter: crores in pay can’t hold Paul
- Highly successful Wipro vice-chairman leaves to pursue his own business in American investment firm
Premji and Paul

Bangalore/Mumbai, June 30: If you had a yearly pay cheque of Rs 5.7 crore, would you leave the job'

But then you are not Vivek Paul, India’s highest paid professional ' as opposed to promoter ' executive.

Wipro’s vice-chairman resigned today amid speculation that Azim Premji, its owner, was planning to bring his Harvard Business School-educated son Rishad into the company’s board.

Paul, 46, skirted questions about rumoured differences with Premji, who owns 84 per cent of Wipro’s stock, over succession plans.

“There are no good guys or bad guys in this event,” Paul said.

Whatever the behind-the-scenes story is, if there is one, in public the two sides were all sugar and honey in parting.

Premji said: “Vivek contributed immensely to the success of our global IT business, as reflected in Wipro’s lead position in diverse areas, including R&D services, IT outsourcing and BPO.”

In the six years Paul occupied the hot seat, Wipro turned into a $1-billion giant from a $150-million company.

“I have perhaps been credited unfairly for the success of the company,” Paul said modestly.

He said he had told Premji of his decision to quit in May and handed his resignation yesterday, for “personal and professional reasons”. “I have worked with some great guys at Wipro and I felt this was the right time to go.”

Like some of his ilk, Paul becomes an entrepreneur from a professional. He will join Texas Pacific Group (TPG), a leading American investment firm, as a partner to pursue opportunities in technology and the life sciences.

A little over three weeks ago, another stalwart, Raman Roy, the pioneer in outsourcing, left the company’s BPO operation.

Paul’s resignation, only three weeks before the expected announcement of first quarter results, raised eyebrows. The Wipro stock fell in early trading to Rs 724 but recovered at the close to Rs 765.55, a net gain of Rs 11.30 over Wednesday’s level, as the market drew some comfort from the soothing words Premji and Paul uttered about Wipro’s future.

“I am supremely confident the new leadership taking over from me will continue to make significant progress. I am equally excited about my future, which would involve me helping entrepreneurs and corporations grow rapidly and capitalise on global opportunities. The focus on technology and life sciences fully leverages my background, and the wide footprint at TPG gives me the perfect opportunity,” Paul said.

Paul was hired from GE Medical Systems in 1999 soon after key players such as Ashok Soota and Subrato Bagchi resigned from Wipro to launch their own firm, MindTree Consulting Pvt Ltd.

Premji said in a statement: “By widening and adding depth to our service portfolio, investing in sales and marketing and focusing on training, we hope to take Wipro to its vision of global leadership.”

Wipro announced a new slate of top officials with A. Lakshman Rao appointed as chief operating officer, but no one was named to succeed Paul as vice-chairman and it seems more than likely that the post will be abolished. Rao is currently president, telecom solutions, and has worked for over two decades with the company.

Premji has created a new corporate structure with all business heads reporting directly to him. Sudip Banerjee will lead the enterprise business and Girish Paranjpe will look after banking and financial services. Suresh Vaswani will continue to lead the India and Asia Pacific IT business alongside his other duties. T.K. Kurien stays at the head of Wipro’s BPO operations. Ramesh Emani will head R&D services and report to Rao.

Premji drew up a set of priorities for the new team: leading industry growth, enhancing customer value by domain, business insights and proprietary frameworks, leveraging increased market synergies from the technology business, and building empowered teams and leaders.

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