Dr. Ajai Chowdhry, one of the six founder members of HCL began an exciting journey more than four 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 72,000 crores (US $10 bn) global enterprise and Dr. 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. Dr. Chowdhry, son of an IAS officer, was also 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 became the Chairman of the company in 1999. His leadership infused tremendous energy taking the company from a turnover of Rs. 400.6 crores (US $ 89 mn) in 1994 to Rs.11, 542 crores (US $ 2.6 bn). The company today has emerged as the country’s information-enabling powerhouse and was also awarded ‘Business Superbrands’ by The Brand Council and rated the Most Trusted Indian IT Brand by Economic Times in 2010-11.
Dr. Ajai Chowdhry has constantly been driving a vision of “IT for the masses” and has been on several Government committees working towards taking PC and broadband into every village in India. He is the Chairman of the Electronics Sector Skills Council and Chairman – FICCI Start up Committee.
In 2011, the Hon’ble President of India conferred Dr. Ajai Chowdhry with the prestigious Padma Bhushan, one of the highest civilian honors, 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 Dr. Chowdhry has been awarded the DATAQUEST ‘IT Person of the Year 2007’ Award and ‘Electronics Man of the Year’ by ELCINA-EFY for the year 2010. He was also honored with the CNBC Asia Business Award 2010 for the Viewers Choice category reinforcing his vision and leadership by the common man. He was awarded the “India Innovator of the Year Award” by then Hon’ble Finance Minister, Shri Pranab Mukherjee at the 6th edition of CNBC TV18 India Business Leader Awards 2010. Dr. Chowdhry was honored with the Cybermedia Business ICT Award 2013 for Lifetime Achievement in ICT by Shri Narendra Modi in January 2014. Most recently, in August 2014, he has been awarded Honoris Causa (D. Sc.) by the Indian Institute of Information Technology, Design & Manufacturing, Jabalpur in recognition of the significant contribution he has made to the Indian IT industry and thought leadership in the field.
Gifted with a pedant sense of entrepreneurship, Dr. 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.
Presently, Dr. Chowdhry is focusing on incubating entrepreneurship by aiding start-ups. He is also on the Board of Indian Angel Network and has invested in many startups. He is also on the Investment Committee of the IAN Fund and the EDF Fund. He mentors many start-ups. He continues to give back to the society through his in-depth experience and understanding of the industry. He was nominated by the Hon’ble President of India to be the Chairman for IIT Hyderabad and then the Chairman of IIT-Patna. Dr. Ajai Chowdhry has been appointed as an Esteemed Member of the Consultation Group on the Science, Technology and Innovation Sector by the Vice Chairman, NITI AAYOG
Dr Ajai Chowdhry has also always focused on giving back to the society and this is not limited to his role in contributing to the Indian IT scenario but also several social initiatives he is a part of. He set up a Charitable Trust called ‘Swayam’ which is committed to provide education support to deserving children who cannot afford good education. Also he has worked on providing solar power to many villages around, Jabalpur. Besides, he is also the Board member of Population Foundation of India and a Trustee of SaveLife Foundation and plays an important advisory role in their advocacy efforts.
Dr. 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. Dr. Ajai Chowdhry is an avid reader and fond of Jazz and fine arts.
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