Five years ago, when Vivek Paul told his boss Jeff Immelt that he was leaving his post as global head of GE Medical Systems (GE) to join an obscure, $150 million Indian software services and hardware company, Immelt tried to dissuade him. But Paul joined Wipro (WIT) anyway. Now Wipro is India's largest listed IT services company, with revenues near $1 billion.
Paul, a 45-year-old engineer born and educated in India with an MBA from the University of Massachusetts, set an audacious goal: to be among the top 10 global tech-services companies in four years. Wipro isn't there yet, but thanks to low rates and efficient service, it's on its way. Working with Azim Premji, who owns 84% of Wipro, Paul acquired U.S.-based financial-services consultant NerveWire and the utilities practice of consultancy AMS. He also capitalized on Wipro's position as the world's largest provider of outsourced tech R&D to woo business from the auto and electronics industries.
Paul, who alternates between Mountain View, Calif., and Bangalore, India, runs the company by remote, using video-conferencing, e-mail, and an internal Web site to communicate with his 25,000 employees. They post their achievements on the intranet, and Paul highlights the best of them -- a little trick that is working quite well.
-- When Paul joined Wipro in August, 1999, it was a $150 million company; today, it's nearly $1 billion.
-- Paul's strategy of growth by acquisition is helping Wipro steal business from the likes of IBM Global and Accenture.