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Institutions Profile

LUMS: A Business School in a league of its own!


Institutions Profile
Information Technology

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 ordinary citizens.