India Exim Policy

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Are Two CEOs Better Than One? The case of WIPRO

Take an organization with business divisions that overlap, add rapid growth, and flavour with problems arising from an uncertain environment. What you have, potentially, is a recipe for confusion. At Wipro, India's largest software services firm, however, little evidence of confusion has appeared despite the turbulent winds that have buffeted the company for the past few years. When former CEO Vivek Paul left to join Texas Pacific Group, a private equity firm, Wipro has had no CEO since Paul's departure, with Chairman Azim Premji -- who owns more than 80% of this Mumbai- and New York-listed company -- combining the roles of both chairman and CEO.

Wipro was established in 1947. It was a
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We do believe that the power of two will help us so far as we are concerned, given our environment." Adds Paranjpe: "Given the enormity of the opportunity and the task at hand, we felt it was worthwhile to have two of us trying to drive this rather than leave it to one individual to try and do [everything]. And from a personal perspective, it can get very lonely at the top. So, having two people helps."

"The business environment in India gives an impetus to this model of collegial and collective leadership." The "premium" aspect for companies doing business in India is the combination of access to a highly skilled labour pool and attractive wage levels. The "penalties" are the uncertainties in the business environment with respect to infrastructure, power availability, urban transportation and stability in policy regimes.

Companies like Wipro need two CEOs because of the complexity of doing business in India. "On the one hand, you have to manage offshore client relationships and business development by staying really closely tuned to what is happening in international markets. On the other, you have to be embedded in India to manage the country-specific challenges." Sometimes these two faces of complexity are quite divorced from each other; they are different sets of challenges. It may be difficult for the same CEO to handle both ends.

Another reason such a

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