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Zeeshan Ahmed

Pakistan still needs more accessible and affordable education for all strata of society

Country’s youth is brimming with talent and ideas, just need to channel their energies the right way
Interview with Dr Zeeshan Ahmed — Acting Rector & Dean, Karachi School of Business and Leadership

Profile

Dr Zeeshan Ahmed is acting Rector & Dean, Karachi School of Business and Leadership (KSBL). Having a PhD from Mississippi State University, USA, an MBA from Institute of Business Administration, Karachi, Dr. Zeeshan Ahmed currently heads the leading business school in Pakistan. With special interest in the area of Earnings Management, Islamic Finance, Microfinance, Capital Markets, Personal Excellence and Business Ethics, Dr. Zeeshan has over 18 years of diverse experience including training, research and consultancy projects.

PAGE: TELL ME SOMETHING ABOUT KSBL, PLEASE:

DR ZEESHAN AHMED: The Karachi School of Business and Leadership (KSBL) was established because a group of Pakistani business and corporate leaders recognized that Karachi, the business and commercial hub of Pakistan, needed a world-class business school.

We collaborated with Cambridge University to set up KSBL, and since then, we have successfully cherry-picked students from all disciplines to be part of our prestigious MBA program.

Last year we inducted the fifth MBA batch while 3 of the graduated batches have already been well placed and successfully supporting the local business landscape, with placements in organizations like McKinsey & Co, Unilever, Nestle’, Coca Cola and the Planning Commission of Pakistan.

A few badges on the students’ shoulders are the business challenges that they have won, the business problems that they have solved for large scale corporations through their final year project. Moreover, business discussions, mentorships and interaction with local and international level corporation heads and global though leaders, and with leaders like relentless mentoring by the renowned faculty gears them up for the post-graduation challenges that lie ahead of them.

KSBL is where students come to not just study, but to absorb an ethos of challenging questions about business practices, international commerce, global finance, etc.

PAGE: WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ON STANDARDS OF HIGHER EDUCATION IN PAKISTAN?

DR ZEESHAN AHMED: Countries at all income levels constantly endeavored to improve their education systems with a special emphasis on producing leaders equipped with higher education.

We know for a fact that tertiary school enrolment has been extremely low for a country like Pakistan and in 2014-15 post graduate numbers (with 18 years of education) were a mere 16,681, as per the Higher Education Commission, and this also includes all disciplines.

The challenge that lies ahead is, not just to have educational infrastructure available for our youth, but also to make it more accessible and affordable for all strata of society.

PAGE: HOW DO YOU PLAN TO MEET THE CHALLENGES OF QUALITY EDUCATION AND COLLABORATION WITH INDUSTRY?

DR ZEESHAN AHMED: Our country is full of eager young minds brimming with talent and potential, looking for opportunities to develop, excel and lead but they need more avenues to grow. This is where the private sector should come in to help with the challenges that this sector faces. And provide opportunity.

At KSBL, we are always linking up with industry leaders and gurus, and collaborate with them for our Mentorship program, Career Counselling Sessions, Eminenet Speaker Series, Student Research Projects, Seminars etc. Some of our student mentors include Mr. Pervaiz Ghias (CEO, Indus Motors), Asif Joomah (CEO, ICI Pakistan), Mr. Asad Jafar (CEO, Philips) who relentlessly guide our students, while we also invite globally renowned speakers like Mr. Dominic Barton (Global Managing Director of McKinsey & Company) and Mr. Wesley Paul (Chairman and Founding Partner, Tellus Matrix) to address our MBA and EMBA students.

Our aim is to keep collaborating with thought leaders, both globally and from the public and private sectors and form a multi stakeholder partnership to address the enormous challenge of ensuring access to world class tertiary education to young minds across Pakistan, so that they also have a share in the pie of immense economic growth that lies ahead.

PAGE: YOUR VIEWS ON RESEARCH BEING DONE IN PAKISTAN:

DR ZEESHAN AHMED: To be honest, genuine academic research is a phenomenon that is still in the take off stage in Pakistan, and the need of the hour is to shape it up in such a way that it helps the public and private sector address the local socio economic challenges. We need research that solves our own problems. We have an immaculate pool of local academia who are research driven, we just need to ensure that the research being done is solving a local pressing issue.

PAGE: YOUR COMMENTS ON ROLE OF TECHNOLOGY FOR IMPARTING EDUCATION, PLEASE:

DR ZEESHAN AHMED: The last 50 years have seen a technological revolution that has delivered a seismic change to human behaviors and interactions, and such leaps in technological advancements have affected all sectors including education. In teaching and education specially, the need is to provide equal access to learning globally. Technological advancements have also played a part in the blended learning methodologies that we use, for instance, sitting in the quaint discussions rooms of KSBL, our students take part in online competitions in a strategy course, by way of a simulation that is created by Harvard. This was unheard of 10 years back!

PAGE: GIVE YOUR COMMENTS ON TALENT IN PAKISTAN:

DR ZEESHAN AHMED: The youth of Pakistan is brimming with ideas, they have access to more information than their predecessors. They just need to channel their energies the right way. In a developing economy with the new silk route defining the trajectory for Pakistan, the need for a graduate business school is imminent to fill the supply demand gap of effective managers, a school that equips the next generation with the management acumen and a global perspective; a school that helps the youth take the baton forward in better integrating Pakistan into the global economic landscape.

Speaking of brushing up current talent, I would like to specially mention our Executive MBA program, which is a holistic 2 year program for operationally sound mid-career professionals, looking to augment their management talent. If Pakistan is to one day become a developed nation, it would only be possible if it’s very talented youth is given tertiary educational opportunities as credible as international business schools that enable them to be leaders who excel at managing resources.

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