Mr. Ajai Chowdhry, one of the six founder members of HCL began an exciting journey more than 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 38,000 crores (US $6.5 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 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..
Mr. 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. 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. He is the Chairman of the Electronics Skills Council and Member of the Scientific Advisory Committee to Cabinet (SAC – C). Mr Chowdhry is also currently the Co-Chairman of the Working Group for Development of Innovation and IP in the ESDM sector.
In 2011, the Hon’ble 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 Mr. 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 honoured 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. Mr. Chowdhry was honoured 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, 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. Presently, Mr. Chowdhry is focusing on incubating entrepreneurship by aiding start-ups. He continues to give back to the society through his in-depth experience and understanding of the industry. He is currently teaching entrepreneurship at IIT Hyderabad and has also been appointed as Chairman of IIT-Patna by the Hon’ble President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee. He is also the Board Member of the incubation centre at Indian Angel Network (IAN) and IIT Delhi.
Mr 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 of various HCL employees who cannot afford good education. 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.
Mr. 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 lives with his wife Kunkun in New Delhi.