Chairman, HCL Infosystems
Lessons from India’s rise can be fruitfully applied to Africa – another group of a billion or so people: this was the message Ajai Chowdhry brought to Tanzania. Chowdhry co-chaired the World Economic Forum on Africa in Dar es Salaam on 5-7 May. The theme was ‘Rethinking Africa’s Growth Strategy’. Amid calls to increase agricultural investment and combat haphazard urbanisation, Chowdhry was the advocate of information technology.
Chowdry also announced in May that HCL Infosystems would begin looking for more opportunities to expand its software services and hardware business in Africa. HCL won a contract in 2008 to implement India’s Pan-African e-Network, which is linking 53 African countries to India for the purposes of sharing information and skills.
Chowdhry is a co-founder of India’s home-grown information technology giant, HCL. After earning a bachelor’s degree in electronics at the University of Jabalpur in 1971, he took a job at Delhi Cloth Mills, which had a division that manufactured calculators. Four years later, Chowdhry joined five DCM colleagues to set up Hindustan Computers Limited. In the intervening three decades, the company has expanded into software and network infrastructure, and has partnered with multinational companies to bring their products to Indian markets.
In 1980, Chowdhry established HCL’s Singapore office, which became the company’s launch pad into Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Indonesia and China. He has been President and CEO of HCL Infosystems, the group’s domestic services arm, since 1994. He became Chairman at the company’s public listing in 1999. Chowdhry is also Chairman of the Indian Institute of Technology-Hyderabad and the Confederation of Indian Industry’s National Committee on Technology and Innovation.