Speakers  


 
 
Ajai Chowdhry
Founder, HCL and Former Chairman & CEO HCL Infosystems
Padma Bhushan Awardee, 2011
Conferred Honoris Causa Doctorate of Science by IIT, Roorkee
 
Ajai Chowdhry, one of the six founder members of HCL began an exciting journey three decades ago with a dream to give India its very own microcomputer. The sheer clarity of vision and hard work led to a revolution and laid the foundation for the Indian IT industry, taking India to the league of major economies of the world.

HCL, India’s original IT garage start-up founded in 1976, today is an Rs 26,318 crores (US $ 5.7 bn) global enterprise and Mr. Ajai Chowdhry has been a key force in driving the growth of HCL. He led the foundation of HCL's overseas operations, starting with Singapore in 1980s and later expanded to the other South Asian Markets. Mr. Chowdhry, son of an IAS officer, has also been a key force in driving the growth of HCL Infosystems, the flagship company of the group. He took over the reins of HCL Infosystems in early 90s and later on went to become the Chairman of the company in 1999. His leadership infused tremendous energy which took the company from a turnover of Rs. 400.6 crores (US $ 89 mn) in 1994 to Rs.11, 542 crores (US $ 2.6 bn) with over 7600 people. The company has today emerged not only as the country’s information-enabling powerhouse but a great place to work with industry accolades and awards received year after year. In 2010 alone the company has been awarded ‘Business Superbrands’ by The Brand Council and rated the Most Trusted  Indian IT Brand by Economic Times for 2010-11, among many more.

Ajai Chowdhry has constantly added newer and cutting-edge technology skills to the company's portfolio and under his able leadership several pioneering projects like foraying into IT retail, creating an extensive Systems Integration business and driving a vision of “IT for the masses” was successfully driven. He has a vision to take PC and broadband into every village and to every person in India. It was this vision that made HCL Infosystems the first company in India to create special products for the rural market place like a rural PC that works on a car battery or specially developed financial inclusion software and hardware products.

Mr. Chowdhry has been a great believer of manufacturing and recently he has been nominated as member National Manufacturing Competitive Council (NMCC), apex advisory body to provide inputs for framing government policies. He has worked closely with the Government to take the cause of ‘IT for the masses’ forward and has been on several Government committees. He has also served as Chairman of Confederation of Indian Industry’s (CII) National Committee on Technology and Innovation till 2010. He has been aggressively advocating an Integrated Systems approach to Homeland security and he is a key member of the task force set up by the CII to advice the Government of India on Internal Security & Chair’s the Sub-Group on “Technology for Internal Security”. Mr. Chowdhry has also been invited to Co-Chair the Advisory Group for Research and Development, in the Electronics Hardware Sector (CAREL) by the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India. Mr. Chowdhry is also a Member of the Scientific Advisory Committee to the Cabinet as well as the National Integration Council.

Gifted with a pedant sense of entrepreneurship, Mr. Ajai Chowdhry has been enlisted among ‘India's Most Powerful Brand Builders’ and has been adjudged among ‘India Inc’s Most Powerful CEOs’ by The Economic Times. His vision to further expand Indian IT to developing economies has now made him one of the key voices for IT development in Africa. In 2010, Co-chairing the ‘World Economic Forum on Africa’ in Tanzania, he shared his vision to empower people across the developing continent of Africa through Information Technology.

In 2011, the honourable President of India conferred Mr Ajai Chowdhry with the prestigious Padma Bhushan, one of the highest civilian honours, as recognition of his consistent contribution in building the IT industry of the nation. In cognizance of his key role in championing the cause of the domestic Indian IT market and relentless efforts towards the cause of electronics in India, Mr. Ajai Chowdhry has been awarded the ‘Electronics Man of the year by ELCINA-EFY for the year 2010’. He has also been conferred the Honoris Causa Doctorate of Science (D. Sc.) in the year 2010 by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee for his thought leadership for the development of an unmatched ecosystem for IT products, computer hardware and software domain in the country. Mr. Ajai Chowdhry has also been honoured with the CNBC Asia Business Award 2010 for the Viewers Choice category reinforcing once again the acknowledgement of his vision and leadership by the common man. More recently, he was bestowed with the "India Innovator of the Year Award" by Honorable Finance Minister, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee at the 6th edition of the CNBC TV18 India Business Leader Awards 2010. Some of the other awards that Mr. Ajai Chowdhry was conferred upon were the DATAQUEST ‘IT Person of the Year 2007’ Award, 'IT Man of the Year' title by The Skoch Consultancy and ‘Electronics Man of the Year - 2006’ Award by EFY for his pivotal role in HCL’s breakthrough innovations.

Presently, Ajai Chowdhry has started to focus on incubating entrepreneurship by aiding start-ups through a variety of initiatives. He continues to give back to the society through his in-depth experience and understanding of the industry. He is currently involved in teaching entrepreneurship at IIT Hyderabad. Former Chairman of IIT – Hyderabad and has been recently appointed by the Hon’ble President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee as Chairman of IIT-Patna.

Ajai Chowdhry has a bachelor's degree in Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering from Jabalpur Engineering College, and attended the Executive Programme at the School of Business Administration at the University of Michigan, US. Mr. Ajai Chowdhry is an avid reader and fond of Jazz and fine arts. He and his wife Kunkun live in New Delhi and have also created a Charitable Trust called ‘Swayam’ which is committed to provide education support to deserving children of various HCL employees who cannot afford good education.