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Cover Story
Successful business leaders are not a product from outside, says Fazle Hassan

INTERVIEWS

   Shaukat Mirza - Former Chief
    Executive, Engro Chemical
    Pakistan.
    Mian Mohammed Latif -
     Chief Executive, Chenab Group.
    Alireza - MD, Shabbir Tiles.
    Ahmed Dawood -
     Chairman Dawood Group.
    Fazle Hassan -
     Director,  (IBA) Karachi.
    Zubyr Soomro - President, 
     UBL.
    Masood Hashmi -
     Deputy Managing Director,
     Orient McCann-Erickson.

"These businessmen understand local conditions, government policies, fix achievable targets and make efforts to come upto the mark"

By SHABBIR H. KAZMI
Sep 13 - 19, 1999

"Change is pervasive and the rate of change is phenomenal now-a-days. Change is pervasive because of independence of business, government and society. The rate of change is faster than before because of the revolution in information technology and the rapid pace of innovation. The rate of change has accelerated due to process of globalization, increasing competition within the sectors and changing customer behaviour. People who are able to understand this, emerge as successful business leaders." This was said by Fazle Hassan, Director, Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi.

Forecasting and monitoring change is not only vital, it is indispensable for institutions that produce movers and shakers who lead business. Responding to the faster rate of change, IBA must also continue to develop new programmes, courses and teaching skills. Now the business executives have to play the role of entrepreneur in a pursuit to achieve better performance. This is the name of the game and the basis for strategic planning and decision making.

In view of the changes in the economy and the demand of business, IBA identifies these changes and forecast the type of demand for the next decade so that we can continue to make our graduates better equipped to deal with the ever changing environment. This will ensure IBA’s position as the leading business school in this part of the world.

To be a successful business leader, it is necessary to achieve higher productivity through long-term planning. Planning is a continuous process of thinking, evaluating new risks and opportunities and redefining the plans to meet new challenges. Strategic management comprises of strategic plans, decision making and implementing the decisions. This needs vision, creativity, intuition and innovation. The academic knowledge provides the vision, experience enhances understanding of the issues, intuition helps in making better decisions and the overall expertise gives courage for taking innovative measures to remain a leader in the changing environment.

With the growing specialization, it has become almost impossible for an individual to understand each and every issue and find workable solutions. It becomes more difficult due to time constraints. In such circumstances, the CEO has to form a team of executives to help him in better understanding, suggesting alternative decisions, evaluating various alternatives and finally reaching a consensus. Many of the decisions may not look ideal for an outsider. However, the decisions are the best in given circumstances or prevailing conditions. The constant appraisal of actual results with targets and an eye on changing environment help in redefining objectives and policies.

Let me give you two examples from real life. Engro Chemical, despite having a large share in urea market, enjoying capacity utilization above designed capacity and making constant expansion in installed capacity, decided to diversify into bulk liquid chemical handling and storage facility. I understand that it was due to their realization that further investment in urea production may not yield similar results achieved in the past. Their new venture has not only met an unfulfilled need but also has the potential to yield higher rate of return on equity.

Similarly, the diversification of Dewan Salman into acrylic fibre production not only gives them a monopoly status but will also help them in revamping their textile units to produce cotton-acrylic blended products. This can help them in creating their own niche market.

Look at another group, having futuristic vision — Sapphire Group. They have increased the installed number of spindles at their mills. They also produce items with highest value-addition. One of their products is dyed cones of cotton yarn. They were the pioneers of this product in the country. Apparently, this product was to meet the in-house demand but now they have customers from outside also. Hardly a few other spinners have been able to emulate their example.

Let me also tell you that successful business leaders are not a product from outside. They are the people from with in Pakistan who understand local conditions and government policies, fix achievable targets and make efforts to meet the targets. They are the biggest critics of their own policies and actions and every year upgrade their targets. When they are not able to achieve the desired targets, they do not feel frustrated. They compare the actual performance with forecast, find out reasons for the deviation and next year try harder to overcome past inefficiencies. They aim at constant improvement in results, return to the shareholders but the main objective remains — creating value-addition.