Business Leaders Conference

First business leaders conference was held on 16 August 2017 at Movenpick Karachi. BLC is founded by Shiraz Ahmed. The theme of the conference was “shaping future of Businesses in Pakistan” in which eminent business leaders of Pakistan addressed to the participants of the conference on the various topics pertaining to the theme of the conference.

Speakers and panelist of the conference includes:

  1. Mr Talib S Karim – President Iobm
  2. Sirajuddin Aziz – CEO HMB
  3. Syed Nadeem Ahmed – CEO Searle
  4. Shazad G. Dada – CEO SCB
  5. Amir Iqbal – CEO Bayer Pakistan
  6. Jaseem Ahmed – Associate professor Middlesex University London
  7. Sikander Sultan – Chairman Shanfoods
  8. Humayun Jamshed – MD Islamic banking
  9. Mr Kashif Khan – Cofounder Abwab Capital Dubai
  10. Shahid Nadeem – MD Nexus Construction
  11. Asif Peer – CEO Systems Ltd
  12. Ahsan Mehanti – CEO Arif Habib Commodities
  13. Moin Malik – CEO Agility
  14. Mr Javed Alam – MD BAKRI Energy
  15. Syed Irfan Hyder – Dean CBM
  16. Mr Shiraz Ahmed – BLC Founder | Leadership Faculty – CBM


The conference was split into four major Themes which includes:

  1. Future of business
  2. Leaders’ challenges
  3. People challenge
  4. Business Challenges


Mr. Talib S Karim while addressing the participants of the conference said that leaders are not born but made, he continued it is just the start of emerging business. Youngsters are now inclined towards this sector and that’s where they learn leadership traits.

Mr. Shiraz Ahmed, stated the purpose of this conference, i.e. To anticipate the future of businesses in Pakistan and to enhance the business activities in a manner which benefits the society.


Mr. Sirajuddin Aziz (Key note speaker) emphasize on Better Business – Better Pakistan. He said that, the role of the leader is to make life better. The element of leadership is to sacrifice, it is only man & women in history who have learned the level of sacrifice & the best example is Quaid-E-Azam, the epitome of sacrifice. He ended with a note that, lets open our minds & unleash our potentials.

Mr. Nadeem Ahmed, while speaking about game changing leadership started the conference introducing his company & continued with the topic. He said that until & unless you don’t feel the ownership you won’t be able to be successful.  He ended with a note that Success can only be achieved with passion & ownership.

Mr. Shazad G. Dada, spoke on Future of Business & leadership, he said that there is no shortcut. Nothing is going to happen overnight it takes time, courage & hard work. One’s focus should be on customer service. He ended with a note that don’t take shortcuts, please be decent because this is the world of opportunities & future leaders. Thus, “join hands even with your competitor.”

Mr. Jaseem Ahmed, while speaking on the topic why business leaders make poor decisions said that “One should be mentally prepare for what is coming in your way.” Questioning what is your business model he suggested that one need to be engaged with employees, customers & suppliers. Ending the note with how to measure & research things that are easy all we need is to think about these.

Mr. Sikander Sultan, while speaking on the topic Taking brands globally said that we are very much convinced to make quality products. We are diligent to serve best market product, we worked very hard to build this knowledge. Lastly said, that I and my team are not after business it is a buy product we believe to prosper in society we are living in.

Mr. Amir Iqbal, addressed on the topic creating a new work Ethic. He said that from his experiences especially failure he learned everything. Objective of doing the business is very simple it is that one create sustainable value. As a leader the role is to focus HOW, emphasis on journey & the destination is on your footsteps. He ended the note with the message that Trust, Respect & transparency is very important to make the right decisions with courage at the right time.

Mr. Kashif Khan, addressed on the topic ‘developing entrepreneurial Mindset’. He said that leadership is to transform vision & change. The basic aspects of being an entrepreneur one has to have unity, discipline & faith. Aggressive networking& utilizing it is very important. He concluded with a note that just don’t give up in life.

Mr. Humayun Jamshed, addressed on topic balancing results & relationships. Based on his experience he conveyed that the leader should have technical expertise & networking with people. Try to reach people & know them with effort & than start talking about targets.

After these insightful sessions, the conference proceeded with the Panel Discussion. The topic for this discussion was ‘How Leaders Build High Trust Teams’. The session was moderated by Mr. Shahid Nadeem. The panelists were Mr. Asif Peer, Mr. Ahsan Mehanti, Mr. Moin Malik and Mr Javed Alam. Questions were taken from participants on the team building and Trust issues.

In the last, Dr. Irfan Hyder, addressed on the topic of ‘Leadership Identity through Personal Brand’. He emphasized on the idea of ‘Be seen, Be Read and Be Heard’. The whole ideas was to ‘Live a life with value proposition’.

The Conference was concluded with a consensus of business leaders and participants to hold these conference regularly in order to understand the future and business opportunities in Pakistan!

There is no Leadership without Wisdom! and wisdom is the ability to Listen and find the right answer. Sagheer Muftee – COO Habib Bank Limited

I interviewed M. Sagheer Muftee for my Leadership research. He is known for his exceptional professional experience and expertise in several areas, Banker Sagheer Mufti answers our all questions. Get to know him like never before from his life experience to leadership style, Mr. Mufti spills it all.

Brief Bio

I was born in Peshawar and my early education is from different cities in Pakistan. Later, I moved abroad and lived there for 27 years. After completing my Masters from George Washington University, I started my career by working with the World Bank in 1978. In 1981, after serving the World Bank for 2 years, I joined Citigroup. I served the Citigroup in various capacities for 34 years in ten different countries across the Middle East, North America, and Europe which also included Pakistan. After my Citibank experience, I joined the Abu Dhabi based ADIB for three years. Currently, I am the COO at HBL since January 2018.


What are your biggest Achievements so far?

My biggest achievement, during the last 30 plus years, would be that I was able to adopt to the different cycles of banking. I have witnessed a number of variations  of financial services. I started my career in early 80s when the banking industry was just started to adopt technology and emerging markets saw one of its first financial meltdown in Latin America.

What is success to you?

To me, success is to be able to support the development of people in order to achieve the objectives that  have been set  for the organization. It is all about creating a win-win situation by aligning the employees and the organization to achieve mutual success. Outcomes may vary but achieving a positive outcome is the good  barometer of success. For example, in a tough situation survival could be termed as a success. If the data center of an organization goes down, the organization may fall. Statistics say that 75% companies, who lost their data centers, went bankrupt. So, in such a situation if someone is able to work through a crisis , then he is successful in preventing that organization from bankruptcy.

What is the key to your success?

The key to my success is my parents’ prayers, hard work and my luck since, luck is what enables you to be at the right place at the right time. I firmly believe that all these are the keys to success. Nobody can achieve anything in the world without hard work. An athlete has to work hard and practice for years before he is able to win a race. Similarly, a singer or an actor has to work hard to win an award or an Oscar. Therefore, I believe there is, years of hard work behind a successful professional and that there are no shortcuts to success. One cannot be a jack of all trades by putting ones hands in a job and be successful without sweating and putting ones time in it. Most people achieve success by learning all aspects of their profession and by working hard.


What percentages you would like to give to these factors?

a)     Parents prayers           30%

b)     God’s Will                 30%

c)     Hard work                  40%


How do you define Leadership?

I strongly believe in servant leadership model. Leadership is to serve the customer, the people you work with and to serve the interest of the organization. Our revenues are generated when customers buy our products /services and give us business. The most important factor, especially in financial institutions, is customer trust. Customers trust us with their wealth. Several studies have shown that the first thing customers worry about is their health and the second thing is their wealth. They are making you part of the second most important thing in their lives. If they give us their trust than we owe them something in return. Our return to them should be to assist them in protecting their wealth, help them in growing their wealth and be able to transact around that wealth. In addition, a good leader should also be a good human being and also be a friend in need.

What are your values?

My first value is to make sure, you serve the customer which means not to sell a bad product. Integrity is my first personal value. The second personal value is how you get along with people. Treat everybody with respect. Whether it is your senior, your colleague or your junior you must give respect, if you want to be respected.


Who inspire you as leaders? Why

At this time, I can recall 3:

1)     My Parents – integrity and living with values

2)     Syed Babar Ali – He knows the actual power of being positive and has knowledge about the things that are right for efficient business activities. He directed me to the path of growth and progress. Despite being busy in his own business activities, he always made himself available to people for mentoring and guidance.

3)     John Gilson – a senior banker, his ability to communicate effectively and taking time out for people and take hard decisions.


How do you see ‘Wisdom’ and ‘Leadership’?

I strongly believe that you can have technocrats and managers but you cannot have leaders without wisdom. It is the ability to listen and then find the right answer. Wisdom is about trying to search for the optimal way forward versus the most profitable way forward. Because the answer of the optimal way forward can be different from the profitable way forward. Profit is just a unidirectional measure. Optimal tells you how to balance various measures to achieve the best outcome rather than just the profitable outcome. Wisdom is about keeping the needs of all the stakeholders ahead as compared to the needs of one stakeholder. Wisdom is not only about using technical knowledge but it is also about believing in your instincts, which may develop over time. Effective decision making is a combination of information and gut feeling.


What are the skills of a great leader?

Leadership require being able to dream big and technical know-how to execute on the dream. Somebody can be a very good swimmer but he or she might not know how to teach swimming. It means an athlete may not have been a good coach. A leader is like a coach. Back in 1981 when I joined the industry, since there were no computers, we used to do things by hand. I remember it was 1982, when an Apple Macintosh computer was given to our branch and before that had to learn to do things manually. To me being a good leader means to be to do things and not just preach. I think good leaders are those who are willing to roll up their sleeves and get in there to get things done. And by the way, I also do not believe that leadership is a permanent position. Different situations require different leaders and people should be humble enough to understand that they must put forward the right person for the right leadership. A great leader would step down and would say you are the better leader in this situation.

What makes you a Leader?

I think it is important to have vision and mission i.e. where you want to go and how will you get there? Leadership is about developing a mission and directing the team to attain that mission. I think being able to communicate well with stakeholders and most important being able to attract the talent, develop the talent and retain the talent to do the things you need to do. If you have  the ability to attract good people you will be successful and if you do not have the ability to retain talented people you will never be successful. Talent acquisition and talent retention is very important. I think God is very kind to me; We are clear at HBL about what we are trying to do and where we are trying to take the organization. I think  with this clarity and the support of the key stakeholders, we are able to move the organization in the direction that has been  envisioned. We have talent and we are striving to support the right talent.  If you ask me what are the future challenges? I think it is the dearth of talent in financial services.

What is the purpose of your leadership?

The purpose of my leadership is to deliver optimal results for the various stakeholders I am working with. For example your shareholders need return. Your regulators ensure that your organization is able to adhere to regulations. Both are very important stakeholders. That is why for me it is not just working for the shareholder only, but it is working for all the stakeholders. It is not about pushing forward the team’s objective. It is about optimal results. For example, it is very easy for businesses, including banks, to make a lot of money in one year. But as a leader their goal should be to sustain earning over a period of time. Not showing massive growth in one year and massive loss in the next year. Sustainability is a very important part of business results. Building capabilities for the future is a very important part of being a good leader. When you are not there , you left behind an organization which continue to excel and prosper without you, that is a real success of a good leader. To summarize it’s about resilience, continuous learning and sustainability.

What are the issues and challenges in the banking industry in Pakistan?

I think financial inclusion  is one of the major challenges. If you look at the number of people in Pakistan, who do not have access to financial services, is significantly large which is really shocking. I believe strong financial services can help the people in savings which play an important role in the well-being of individuals. So, I think if banks are not providing sufficient services and products to the people in a country then it is a big issue. So, financial inclusion  will be the first challenge.

The second challenge, I think is that digital products and services are becoming a reality and a very important part of how you serve the corporate sector and individual customers. I think digital services or digitization of financial industry in fact creates an opening to extend financial services to those who do not have financial services today either due to lack of access, distribution or cost effectiveness. The digitization of industry provides a huge opportunity as well a huge threat.

The third challenge is that of governance. I think we need to continue to improve the governance in the financial industry because there are multiple types of risks that we have to manage. Risk management comes from good governance frameworks. Compliance is also one of the risk and then there is the cyber risk. Reputation risk is also an important risk in the financial services today.

Treating customers fairly is also a very important issue. So, all of the above mentioned are emerging risks which have to be managed and to me,  we can manage these risk well with improved governance. Good governance leads to good management of the institution .

Grid Leadership By Kashif Shamim, Head H.R PharmEvo

Mr. Kashif was invited in Leadership class at IoBM on 8th April 2019. He is Director H.R of PharmEvo (Pvt.) limited. Beside an H.R professional and leader he is also a great trainer, many health care professionals had been trained by him. During his career he has worked for more than 12 years with various well-renowned multinational and national companies like Himont Group, Abudawood Group, Meezan Bank Ltd, Royal Mail plc (United Kingdom) and Millennium Softwares.

Mr. Kashif has an interactive personality equipped with good communication, interpersonal and professional skills. During his session he talked about many hot topics like Leadership and self-learning. For this he began with the question:

Who is a leader?

He said anyone can be a leader it does not matter to which background and from which race he/she belongs to, their actions make them leader. To further elaborate this he gave an example of a volunteer during any accident, the first one who comes up with an idea to call an ambulance. He further emphasize that the most important thing that a leader must do is to manage culture. Most of the organizations fail due to the incompetency of their cultures. He said it creates conflicts when behavior of people contradicts with the intention of organization.

He said that we should focus on what is right rather than who is right. If you think that someone is right and you believe that what he is doing is according to the situation then there is nothing to do with the designation, status or position. He further said that good leaders switch their ideas if they get something better than their own. They appreciate mindful approach rather than imposing their decisions.

He explained five main leadership styles and three major criteria for their analysis. Leadership styles include:

  • Impoverished (1,1)
  • Country Club (1,9)
  • Middle of the road (5,5)
  • Dictatorial (9,1)
  • Team management (9,9)

These leadership styles can be draw on a graph having concern for production and concern for people on x and y-axis respectively. The analytical and social skills of any leader can be measured through this grid. Three major criteria conflict, creativity and commitment are used to analyze the performance of a leader. For example the grid shows that a leader is impoverished (1,1) this means that his level of commitment will only be to survive, he has no scope for creativity and his power to negotiate will be neutral. Two more leadership styles has been told by him that are paternalistic approach (PAT) and opportunistic approach (OPP). All these seven leadership styles can be used to identify the qualities of a leader.

In the end, he described an equation:

R1 + R2 = R3

Here R1, R2 and R3 are denoted as resources, relationship skills and results respectively. Natural abilities, skills, experience and education are termed as resources. The most important component in this equation is R2 i.e. seven relationship skills which include initiative, critique, inquiry, conflict resolution, advocacy, resilience and decision making. The most important skill is critique which means to discuss an event, it is the mother of all relationship skills. When resources and relationship skills are combined they give desirable results in the form of new products, profits, employment turnover and market share. According to him every leader apply these relationship skills.

Effective Leadership by Mr. Farhan Ahmed, Head of External Communications and Public Affairs at Standard Chartered Bank

Mr. Farhan was invited as a guest speaker in leadership’s class at IoBM on 6th April 2019. He has started his carrier in 1999 as management trainee in Nestle and the alumni of 4th batch of IoBM. He has then reign to become Food Service Manager and then after working for 4 years at Nestle he decided to part ways with and moved to the banking sector. He is now the Head of External Communications and Public Affairs at SCB.

He is a well-known personality in the banking field. His carrier revolves around marketing and communication. Throughout his career he has been associated with well-known organizations like Nestle, HSBC and SCB.

To make his session interactive and productive. He focused on probing his listeners to think and reflect on their personal and professional spheres. During his session he has asked the below questions:

What differentiates the leader and managers?

To elaborate he said he can count the people in his life as good leaders or managers. He emphasized on reflecting on our lives and highlight the good leaders and managers. He believes that managers are not supposed to be leaders. When we are at work, we can find managers who are good at work but people do not like them.  A leader must have integrity and ethics as this what differentiates them. Bad leaders drive the momentum of the team towards their own agenda.

One of the most important thing that differentiate managers from others is the better understanding of themselves and they know that they are good at. If the leaders are dictating the terms for their people then they are creating managers not leaders.

What is your definition of leadership?

He said when we work in different groups, we have group leaders but sometimes there is another person in the group that creates a pull and this is what leadership is. Good leaders are honest to their team.

What are leaders supposed to do?

Leaders are those who creates leaders. He believes that apart from mother leaders can be found in schools and these leaders are the teachers. We have teachers in schools, college and university; who you distinctly remember. Whatever leaders want to achieve they inspire people to make things happen. A leader’s believe is more important than assertiveness. They have vision, clarity and inspire people. As a leader they must have clarity of where they want to take people. The most important aspect of becoming a leader is reading. They must read what other people did and what they wanted.

Are leaders born or made?

He believes that leaders can be made and what they must learn is to have vision, integrity, ethics and emotional intelligence.

How do leaders create leaders?

The effective leaders walk the talk, they are open to feedback and criticism, authentic to work, they give authority to think, accept what is wrong and are very open minded.

They provide their team a learning platform. Gives them project to test their potential and at times overlook their mistakes as their focus is on the results. They must learn to empower people and back them up.

The effective leaders must give their teams the liberty to make mistake and do not hold them back. They empower their ability to think, to go around with freedom and explore themselves. The preference of the work is changing and there are young blood in every team and a leader must be able to safeguard their values and systems.

Ethical Leadership in an Unethical World – Mr. Amin Rajput, Deputy Managing Director SSGC

Mr. Amin was invited as a guest speaker in MBA-Leadership class at IoBM on 2nd March 2019. He is a well-known personality in the field of accountancy with 25 years of work experience. His carrier revolves around audit, taxation, and finance. Throughout his career he has been associated with well-known companies in GCC and Paksitan.

During his session he has advised the students to equip themselves for practical life, drive and deploy their energy in the right direction and never forget their ethics within their journey towards success. To support his stance, he gave his own example and admitted that he belonged from a middle-class family and studied in a government school and said that most of the people are dependent on their parents for education and do not come out of their comfort zone to support their studies or themselves.

He has emphasized that the ethics are being forgotten due to absence of standardization in our society. He said that the basic problem of our society is that we are not disciplined and well regulated. He has also emphasized on giving back to the society and to substantiate this he gave example of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation working for the prosperity of humanity.

He believes that ethics and values are very important for a leader as he is the one who makes a team, vision, mission and inspire you and only he has the responsibility to inform his followers the limits in which they must remain to be ethically legitimate as the tone is set at the top. At some point in time a leader is pressurized to act against their values and as a professional, a leader must not comprise in such situation and must manage it boldly.

Mr. Amin shared his experience; he went for a job interview 8 year back in Oman. His first interview was conducted by the Omani and after the interview he was asked to have a cup of tea with him once he is done with the rest of the interviews. After the interviews; the Omani, during the tea session, shared that he has done his graduation from NED in 1960 and praised the quality of Pakistan’s education system back in those days. With a deep breath he said that what happened to your country? You are so unfortunate and unlucky for not having the honest leadership.

Bad governance is a global phenomenon but unfortunately, the ratio is high in Pakistan.  He said that there are many uncertainties in our country as we do not have a sound system of governance but things are getting better as corporate governance is improving significantly and promoting whistle blowing mechanism. A sound system will help organizations in induction process of resources and will empower employee to voice their concerns or opinions through feedback mechanism.

Ethics is the key element of leadership and there is no shortcut for success. Only arduous work can make us successful. He requested to respect the motherland like the way we respect our parents and align our career or goals with socio economic agenda because together we can grow and build a sustainable society.

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