Pakistan & Gulf Economist in conversation with Dr. Zeeshan Ahmed (Dean, Karachi School for Business and Leadership) discussed about what it takes to run a top-tier business school.
Dr. Zeeshan Ahmed has held eminent positions at top business schools of Pakistan. Currently he is the Dean at renowned graduate management school of the country, Karachi School of Business & Leadership (KSBL).
He is passionate about cultivating the strategic mindset and competencies for growth and success in new generation. Dr. Zeeshan believes that if we prioritize education reform then we can solve most of our problems and nothing can stop us from attaining leading roles in the League of Nations.
A Ph. D from Mississippi State University, USA, a CFA and an MBA, he specializes in the areas of Leadership, Financial Reporting, Islamic Finance, Microfinance, Capital Markets, Personal Excellence and Business Ethics.
Dr. Zeeshan also serves on the Board of Institute of Financial Markets Pakistan (IFMP), Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), Institute of Chartered Accountants Pakistan (ICAP) and academic council of IBA Centre for Excellence in Islamic Finance (CEIF).
PAGE: What features distinguish KSBL from other business schools operating in Pakistan?
Dr. Zeeshan Ahmed: At KSBL our vision has been to be a graduate management school that offers cutting-edge programs and comprehensive learning experience to our students. Keeping to that vision we have been raising the bar of higher education by focusing on reframing their minds and enhancing their business acumen. We believe in giving our best regardless of how others are performing. Our differentiating factors are distinctive teaching methodology, internationally renowned faculty, advanced curriculum and the experiential learning method.
To shed light on the experiential learning, in the KSBL’s unique CEO Mentorship program, Assessment Centres, Developing Executive Capabilities (DEC) Sessions and Eminent Speaker Series students get a chance to interact with top CEOs from the business fraternity, who have made it big in the industry.
Under our distinctive teaching methodology and upgrading of the curriculum as per the need of time, in the time of digitalization, we have introduced advanced courses like Digital Entrepreneurship and Business Analytics. These courses incorporate in-depth details on the future of entrepreneurship in the evolving economy of Pakistan along with practical and theoretical knowledge of various innovative softwares like Python. Amongst the other courses being offered on the similar lines Design Thinking has also been included. Focus on higher education contributes in rapid progress of the nations that is the reason KSBL aims producing opportunists who can compete not just in local market but on the international fronts as well.
PAGE: Share with us the prominent achievements of KSBL in its brief history.
Dr. Zeeshan Ahmed: Among the many milestones, over a brief period of past 6 years, KSBL is already standing with the most premiere business schools of the country. Able to attract and engage, our faculty holds an extensive portfolio and association with prominent business schools internationally and locally.
Our faculty members not only offer sound classroom experience to students, but also bring in exposure of the local competitive market, thereby fulfilling the needs of the latest business practices.
One of the milestones closed to my heart is giving back to the community through the KSBL’s initiative of merit-based Scholarship and Financial Assistance. The facility is offered to all without any discrimination or quota system. The initiative has enabled potential students from all over Pakistan, from the urban and rural areas, to be the part of the most distinguished business school of the country. I feel overwhelmed to share that so far KSBL has granted financial assistance of more than Rs140 million to the meritorious students.
I feel accomplished to mention that our graduates are well positioned in esteemed organizations like Coca Cola, Unilever and Engro, to mention a few. I must also highlight the stupendous achievement of our Alumnus Adnan Shaffi, who got featured in Forbes 30 under 30 Asia list and also won 18th Asia Pacific ICT Award. Another of our alumni Usman Saleem got featured on BBC for his unique concept of entrepreneurial venture. In the public sector, serving in the Ministry, Yasir Arafat shared his contributions as a Co-Author in the book CPEC Analysis by Dr. Ishrat Hussain.
Achievements of the students during their study years due to strong academic and personal mentoring, involve winning of business competitions CFA research Challenge, LUMS Synergies, All Business Plan Competition, IBA Infer, IMC Battle of the Brains and the Aman Clinics Accelerator Competition. The institute has also been able to conduct and organize simulation based country-wide interuniversity competition by the name of Simerge that is arranged annually.
Our engagement at the corporate level is also immaculate. The Executive Education Services at KSBL offers unmatchable experience through different courses, designed to elevate the performance level of individuals from corporate sector. Moreover in our future plans the launch of customized MBA programs is in line, which will be designed on the basis of strategic and operational requirements of different organizations.
PAGE: Tell us about the Faculty at KSBL
Dr. Zeeshan Ahmed: We have a team of highly intellectual and internationally renowned faculty with extensive accolades as their credentials, onboard at KSBL.
Dr. Jawaid Ghani (Ph. D from Wharton School University of Pennsylvania, USA) and ex-Dean of the Suleman Dawood School of Business (SDSB), holds an incredibly extensive portfolio. Before joining LUMS, he held a diverse teaching experience at many famous universities such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Western Michigan University and Sloan School of Management (SSM), to name a few. Moreover, he was the Founding Director of Gallup Research Institute (Pakistan) and also served as the founding Chairman of the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB).
Dr. Muhammad Athar Siddiqui (Ph.D, PG Certificate in Research Methods, University of Strathclyde, UK), Dr. Shoaib Ul Haq (Ph.D – LUMS, MBA -Leipzig Graduate School of Management, Germany) and Dr. Tariq Basheer (Ph.D, Washington University, M.Sc, London School of Economics (LSE)) also with their dynamic international exposure.
We are privileged to have former Chief Economist of Pakistan Dr. Nadeem Javaid (Ph. D Economics, University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, France) as a member of our distinguished faculty. In his capacity as a Chief Economist, he supervised the preparation of the 11th and 12th National Five Year Plans, besides finalizing the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) long term plan. Moreover, Dr. Javaid also served as an Advisor to the Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform. He also has the honor of preparing the Vision 2025 of Pakistan as a lead author.
PAGE: Does KSBL offer scholarships to students who are not strong financially?
Dr. Zeeshan Ahmed: One of the most remarkable aspect of KSBL is that here we have a need-blind admissions policy. There is a misconception observed among many applicants about tuition fees of renowned institutions existing across the Pakistan that they only cater the elite class. I want to explicitly mention here that KSBL follows need-blind admissions policy and like I mentioned before, since inception it has already disbursed Financial Assistance of more than Rs140 million and the count is still on.
PAGE: What is KSBL’s contribution in imparting education in information technology?
Dr. Zeeshan Ahmed: Ever since its inception in 2012, KSBL has emerged as a leading educational institute to enhance business acumen of students. The institute was established under the non-governmental profit organization, Karachi Education Initiative (KEI). For its initial set up we had Judge Business School – University of Cambridge onboard, as the partner under strategic collaboration.
In the area of Information Technology, KSBL in its future plan aims to come up with its exclusive initiative on Digital Economy by the name of KSBL Initiative on Digital Economy (KIDE). The program will be conducted with an aim to equip students with tools and knowledge of advanced level softwares and to address challenges and opportunities constantly mushrooming in the digital sector of Pakistan. Moreover, the initiative will also focus on promoting communication and cooperation between the corporate and academia, to develop a strong and vibrant digital economy.
PAGE: Please share your experience of Islamic banking and your views on it.
Dr. Zeeshan Ahmed: By the grace of Almighty he gave me the opportunity to initiate Islamic banking in Pakistan amongst others. For the first time I introduced the Islamic Finance course at the most elite business schools like LUMS, IBA and now at KSBL. I feel proud to share that many top executives on the forefront of Islamic banking are my students. It was a humble beginning that started off with this course, which I believe is one of the milestones in my career. Now it is an honour to see business schools of the country getting inclined towards this idea and developing full-fledged Islamic Centres.
I am also an active member of academic council of IBA by the name of Centre of Excellence in Finance (CIEF). In my view the existing banking system is apparently unable to solve the constantly emerging problems confronted by masses. By educating students to switch over to Islamic System of Economy and Banking we aim to enable them to contribute in developing a welfare society, where people are secure from exploitation and their basic needs of financial management are catered. Over the years we have conducted ample workshops and seminars on Islamic Finance and Accounting internationally and locally. In these we acquainted participants about the high potential in this form of banking and security of assets from any sort of Non-Shariah compliant sources.
PAGE: What is your stance on KSBL’s emphasizes on Executive Education?
Dr. Zeeshan Ahmed: In the extremely escalating demands of organizations, it has become almost crucial for individuals to have professional certifications in their credentials. The corporations these days while recruiting has this notion that with persistent innovation and latest researches emerging on daily basis one just cannot rely on the knowledge gained in five years at the graduate school. Just like electronic products that become obsolete after a certain period of time, professionals also require constant upgrading. As life is advancing at fast pace it is important for individuals to adapt to newest skills and knowledge, or else they will be left behind. In Executive Education, our courses are continuously recreated as per the requirements of organizations with the latest pedagogies and skills upgrading programs.