A Business School in a league of its own!
Sep 25 - Oct 01, 2000
All great ideas have modest beginnings! So began the quest for
excellence in 1984. A group of leading businessmen in Pakistan led by Syed Babar Ali, had
a dream of setting up a Center of Excellence for management education- The Harvard of
Pakistan ! Using their ideas, energy and financial resources, they conceived the project.
So the noble enterprise called LUMS was born.
Its natural habitat was Lahore a city rich in its traditions of
learning, culture and the arts an appropriate venue for the pursuit of excellence
in education. Its mission was to train the future business leaders of Pakistan. The
founding fathers felt strongly that for too long the country's corporate sector had relied
on mediocre managers, and with increasing globalisation and competitive pressures, there
was an urgent need to produce better managers.
As one of Pakistan's first private initiatives in higher education, it
needed to garner the support of the government. Luckily the timing was right. The
government quickly endorsed the idea by providing LUMS degree-granting status and the
President of Pakistan agreed to become the Chancellor of the university.
LUMS brought a number of innovations in higher education. It introduced
a new pedagogy by basing its MBA program on the case method. This learning style provided
the students with a stimulus for debate, an opportunity to sharpen their communication
skills, a tolerance for each other's views and a spirit of camaraderie. Through the use of
local and international cases, the business world came alive challenging
pre-conceived notions, synthesizing conflicting views and simulating decisions under
uncertainty. It also improved the work ethic among young Pakistanis.
Of course, to achieve all this, it needed an outstanding faculty. The
LUMS faculty is a highly talented and experienced group of individuals having qualified
from the finest institutions in North America, Europe and Australia. Their sound academic
credentials coupled with industry and research experience makes a formidable combination.
In addition to developing business leaders for the future, LUMS also
focuses on the development needs of middle and senior managers through its Rausing
Executive Centre. Almost nine thousand Pakistani and international managers have passed
through the portals of the Rausing Executive Centre, imbibing new knowledge, sharing ideas
and unlearning the conventional wisdom of management. The university is playing its role
in the public sector as well, helping it to become more efficient and competitive.
Recently a training program was held for the Commerce & Trade Group probationers from
the Foreign Trade Institute of Pakistan. A fast-paced introduction to international
marketing, teamwork and IT has provided them a memorable learning experience and a set of
skills which will help them when they represent Pakistan's commercial interests abroad.
Similar programs have been conducted for Securities & Exchange Commission, CBR and
other public institutions. LUMS has also developed a regional reputation, having run
programs in Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and soon in Saudi Arabia.
To help the SME sector of the economy, LUMS has established the Small
& Medium Enterprise Centre, that helps small businesses through transfer of knowledge
and skills. These courses and seminars are often subsidized to make them affordable.
The University has expanded rapidly over the last 15 years. In addition
to the School of Business, there is now a School of Arts & Sciences that offers a
Masters in Computer Science and a Four Year B.Sc. (Honours) program. This program provides
a broad-based quality education at the undergraduate level with specialization in
Economics, Computer Science, Social Sciences and Mathematics, a new major added this year.
A Minor in Finance and Accounting is being introduced this year and aspires to become a
major in later years. The focus of the program is to groom individuals to be socially
responsible citizens having breadth of perspective, practical skills and technical
competence. The B.Sc. program has already established its reputation internationally, with
its graduates being accepted into universities like Harvard, Stanford, Carnegie-Mellon,
Cambridge and Oxford in their Masters and Doctoral programs.
The MS Computer Science program is designed to produce Information
Technology professionals with a thorough understanding of systems, processes, and
technologies. The program aims at retaining a professional development focus while
developing a strong theoretical understanding. The MS program has been structured to
enable students in other disciplines to switch to the computer science profession. The
program maintains a balanced focus on fundamental concepts, theories, current
technologies, systems development processes, and technical management. Professionals
graduating from the MS program are properly equipped to play important roles in the
Information Technology industry, particularly software exports, which are a pivotal
component of the Government's economic growth plans. The graduates of both programs are
already getting jobs with international companies like Microsoft, Mcfadyen consulting,
Vroom Technologies and others.
The university is also trying to develop the other essential
pre-requisite of a centre of higher learning- Research. In order to stimulate the creation
and dissemination of knowledge, LUMS established its Centre for Management & Economic
Research (CMER) in 1992. Through it the faculty are encouraged to engage in research,
present their findings at national and international conferences. This centre also holds
seminars and workshops on topical issues. The government frequently seeks advice and input
from LUMS faculty on economic and other policy issues and a number of faculty serve on the
Government's task forces and commissions. The Punjab Information Technology Board, a bold
initiative to change the IT landscape of the province is headed by a LUMS faculty member.
LUMS also has extremely well developed international linkages with
international institutions like The World Bank, CIDA, British Council and others that
interact with the university on training, capacity-strengthening and reform initiatives.
High-profile International leaders like James Wolfensohn, President of The World Bank are
frequent visitors on campus.
The University is trying to fulfil its diverse obligations to society
through teaching, research, producing future business leaders, IT professionals and
helping SMEs to upgrade themselves. Although smaller than its peers in the public sector,
it will make a more substantive impact on the destiny of this country. Many more such
institutes are needed if we are to get out of the current morass and improve the lives of