An interview with Dr. Javed Ashraf Director, IBA
By AMANULLAH BASHAR
Apr 23 - 29, 2001
The Institute of Business Administration (IBA), the
Center of Excellence, started its journey for the cause of education
in 1955 from Karachi and never looked back since its inception.
The crop of brilliant graduates it has produced so
far is the real strength, identification and introduction of IBA.
People having association with the IBA generally observe with a sense
of pride that the graduates produced by IBA are like gold and accepted
the world over like universal currency. This is certainly a great
compliment for the performance of an educational institution in
Pakistan. Yet another compliment which IBA deserves is its philosophy
to keep off its students from politics. Probably, IBA is the only
educational center, which despite having a great strength of
outstanding students has successfully managed to keep the environments
free from the pollution of the politics. The students and the
faculties are sincerely committed to their professional targets, which
they are achieving over the years.
IBA was established under the aegis of the
University of Karachi with the assistance of Wharton School of
Business, University of Pennsylvania in 1955. Initially it was the
recipient of $10 million as financial assistance from the US Aid
during the years 1955 to 1968 and is now financially viable.
It developed faculty exchange and training programs
initially with the Wharton School and later with the University of
Southern California. As a result of this affiliation, a number of US
professors and advisers taught at IBA and many Pakistani faculty
members were sent to the States for Doctoral or Master's programs.
IBA made a start in the PILA Building, Stratchen
Road and shifted to Kandawala Building, M.A. Jinnah Road in 1961. In
view of the increasing number of programs introduced, IBA's University
Campus and City campus were constructed in 1965.
IBA initially offered a degree in the Morning
Program only but later started its Evening Program in the late fifties
to cater to the needs of the numerous in-service managers interested
in part-time business studies.
In 1982, IBA started the BBA (Hons) Program for the
holders of Intermediate certificates. This move to take its input at
the time when students made important career decisions further
improved the quality of applicants to IBA.
The Center for Computer Studies was established in
1983 in collaboration with IBM with the objective of offering diploma
in Systems Analysis to overcome the shortage of computer literate in
the country. It now offers a full time MBA in MIS Program.
Dr. Javed Ashraf has recently taken over the charge
of IBA as its Director. He carries a Ph.D in Economics from Northern
Illinois University to his credit. He also holds a Master's degree in
Economics and a Master's degree in Political Economy from Boston
University. Prior to this he earned a B.A and M.A (Economics) from
Government College Lahore.
Dr. Ashraf has published more than 50 papers in
international journals and research publications. These include
Harvard University's Economics Letters, Cornell University's
Industrial and Labor Relations Review and the University of London's
One of his papers was also published in Women in
the Labor Market, part of the prestigious Critical Writings in
Economics series. He presently sits on the Board of Reviewers of 6
international journals. He won the Dyson Faculty Excellence award for
Research four times at the University of West Florida. He was also the
first recipient of the E.W. Hopkins Award for the most outstanding
faculty member in the College of Business at the University of West
Florida. In 1997, the Ministry of Education, Government of Pakistan,
awarded him first prize for his research publications.
Dr. Ashraf has held faculty positions at Northern
Illinois University, the University of Wisconsin, the University of
Hartford and the University of West Florida. Prior to joining IBA, he
was professor of Economics at the University of West Florida.
Dr Ashraf, who rates IBA as the second to none in
Pakistan, has his dreams to take IBA to the height that it deserves.
With the approval of the academic board Dr. Ashraf feels that IBA
faculties need to be further strengthened.
Currently, IBA has 121 faculty members to its
strength and out of them only 16 are on regular strength while of the
remaining either working on contracts or on part time basis and some
are on deputation.
The faculty for both the morning and evening
programs of IBA comprises of high professional, experienced and
dedicated teachers and researchers. Dr. Ashraf said that IBA's program
to hire more Ph.D would not affect the status of the existing faculty
members in any sense. He said that out of the existing faculty
members, most of them have rich experience and delivering the goods to
He told PAGE that under reinforcement of
faculties, IBA has a target to hire at least 50 faculties' members on
regular basis. Despite having strength of the best students in
Pakistan what IBA lacks is the presence of sufficient strength of
Ph.D. on its faculty strength. In order to overcome this shortcoming,
IBA has chalked out plans to hire more doctors either on contracts or
regular basis besides sending its own people abroad for earning Ph.D.
from foreign universities. In fact IBA had a program to groom its
outstandingly brilliant faculty members or graduates for Ph.D. which
was abandoned by the people in the past for the reasons best known to
them. Now that program has been initiated again and two of the members
have already doing their Ph.D. in the United States and hopefully
joining us next year.
IBA believes that the continuous development of
professional, dedicated managers is the most important prerequisite
for the economic development of a country like Pakistan.
Towards meeting this objective, the students thus
selected are exposed to a training program that instills in the
individual a pervasive habit to act as an agent of change in a
stagnant environment rather than being the recipient of change from
such an environment.
Graduates coming out with such a bent of mind
invariably distinguish themselves as catalysts of progress for the
organization and the country as well.
IBA maintains that education is an essential
service and its supply should continue even during emergencies or
disturbances. As a result of this philosophy, IBA has not been closed
out of schedule even once since its inception and classes have been
held in the most difficult situations. Regularity, punctuality and
conformity to schedules and deadlines are axioms for the staff and
students so much so that the participants complain of restlessness
during holidays and come back joyously to the rigors of IBA. This
exactness inculcates a strong commitment to professional excellence
among IBA students — a commitment that forms the cornerstone of
The initial absorption of students through a
methodical, merit based admission procedure, their subsequent training
in a rigorous academic environment and the ultimate on-time completion
of studies have now become a routine cycle at IBA — a ritual that
may be termed as IBA's way of life.
IBA ensures that faculty and students get to know
each other in the learning process. Students completing their studies
at IBA find that in addition to building lifelong friends, they can
develop a business network that can serve them throughout their
The system of education at IBA is a unique blend of
classroom instruction, case method, role playing, business games,
class presentations, personal research a practical training in
business organizations. It demands total commitment, concentration and
self-discipline. An important distinguishing feature of IBA is its
adherence to the academic calendar known to students at least 12
months in advance. A detailed program is given to students on the very
first day of the semester. Students are required to be regular and
punctual in attendance as well as in reading assignments. Classes and
examinations have been held on schedule even during curfew, political
disturbances, riots etc. Students are evaluated and examined over the
entire semester through quizzes, term-reports, hourly examinations,
class presentations and final exams.
Admission procedures, curricula, methods of
instruction and the system of examination at IBA give it a unique
position among the educational institutions in Pakistan. Admission to
IBA is granted strictly on merit basis. To demonstrate its adherence
to the merit formula, IBA makes available answer books to candidates
or their parents, if they so desire. IBA has earned a reputation for
resisting pressures and recommendations for admissions.
Employers' interest in IBA graduates is high and is
reflected by the fact that graduates get jobs within weeks of their
graduation. A number of organizations place their job offers with
IBA's placement office well before a class comes to maturity.
Employers' representatives visit IBA to interview the graduating class
and students often have to divide their time between their studies and
appearing for job interviews in the last month of their stay at IBA.
Students get attractive job offers even before graduation.
IBA's placement office keeps a liaison with the
hiring organizations throughout the year. Graduates directories are
sent to prospective employers to give notice of an outgoing batch and
to introduce the graduates to the employers' offices.
The office also coordinates the summer internship,
which is a requirement for the degree. The internships also provide
the students a chance to evaluate prospective employing organizations.
It gives them an opportunity to get inside knowledge about the
organizations and develop contacts. Students often decide their area
of major concentration on the basis of their experience during the
internship. Some students go back to their place of internship as
full-fledged employees. Students going through the BBA/MBA program
complete two internships and in the process get to evaluate two
IBA's prestigious complex of buildings is spread
over slightly more than 80 acres of land. The two campuses can compare
in size and beauty with any campus in Asia and Europe and true to
IBA's tradition of achieving excellence, are immaculately maintained.
Nestled in a serene corner of University of
Karachi, the IBA Main Campus gives the impression of peace in spite of
the hectic atmosphere that prevails behind this facade. IBA's main
Campus is a large complex of buildings spread around lush green
sprawling lawns, which serve as a backdrop to an extremely conducive
environment for academic pursuit. The complex houses the Main Campus
Program offices, the faculty offices, a library, auditorium, a dozen
classrooms, three computer labs, spacious car parking and a cafeteria.
In addition to the main campus facilities, students have complete
access to the facilities at the City Campus.
The city campus, is spread over 3.5 acres in the
heart of the city of Karachi is within walking distance from the
business and financial nerve center of the country. Apart from the 24
classrooms, it houses the Evening Program offices, its own library, an
auditorium, conference halls and seminar rooms, four computer labs and
a roof top canteen. A new complex for preparatory and BCS program has
recently been completed.
The City Campus has a specious auditorium.
Seminars, graduation ceremonies, plays and other functions are usually
held at this auditorium. It has a seating cpacities for 334 persons
and has ample backstage room for plays, which are, held these
regularly every year. In fact, IBA deserves a world-class auditorium.
The present building of auditorium, Dr. Ashraf said that the
auditorium has to be restructured with an estimated cost of Rs60 lakh.
IBA has already launched a fund raising campaign, which has been
warmly responded by the corporate sector. United Bank has offered to
contribute Rs10 lakh in response to the fund raising campaign of IBA.
The canteen, which does not, complies with the
status and image the IBA has earned in the eyes of the people again
present a poor look. He was of the view that the auditorium presenting
a shabby looks also needs to be renovated in accordance with the image
of the IBA.
He said that the corporate sector both public and
the private is always willing to cooperate to facilitate the students'
activities in IBA. He disclosed that PEPSI had offered Rs2 million for
upgrading the canteen facilities at IBA campus. Similarly the
financial sector was also willing to provide funding for restructuring
of the facilities at the auditorium. He said that their proposals are
being examined and after approval of the board the canteen and
auditorium would be refurbished shortly.
He said with a sense of pride and satisfaction that
IBA has earned a reputation among the business and corporate sectors
that they voluntarily offer financial assistance for up-gradation of
various facilities at IBA campus, this spontaneous support was however
not utilized in the past for the good of the education and the
Regarding the current state of libraries, Dr.
Ashraf was not happy due to limited number of books it contain on
business management and related subjects. He disclosed that IBA has
launched a campaign for collection of quality books within the country
and from abroad. He said that former IBA students now working in USA
and other Western countries have responded warmly for collection of
books and have started sending books for IBA libraries.
The libraries subscribe international, local
journals and periodicals. The libraries however maintain copies of
these journals since 1962.
IBA has its own hostel for out of town students.
The Professor A.S. Nagi Hostel has one hundred rooms and is for the
exclusive use of IBA students. Dr. Ashraf pointed out that despite
having enough land and premises, IBA lacks facilitating the girls
students for hostel facilities. Some of the girls students coming from
outstations have to stay at the girls hostel of Karachi University
which is comparatively most costly and costs Rs2500 per month. In
order to facilitate girls students a girls hostel is essentially
required by IBA. He said that the proposal for construction of girls
hostels has been moved to the board which is likely to be approved
It is unanimously agreed that the human resource
development is the only way out to face the economic challenges faced
by the developed world. The situation doubles the responsibility of
education sector to help out the country by contributing their due
share in the efforts of the nation for human resource development.
IBA enjoys the reputation of producing graduates
providing agile and vibrant leadership in various walks of life
especially in the financial, economic and business sectors of the
country. IBA being the public sector organization need to come out
with a plan to spread the light of education to the grass root level
at a massive scale enabling the nation to fight against unemployment
and poverty. Pakistan is passing through tough times of its history
due to enormous challenges both internally as well as externally. It
is now the responsibility of the young leadership to shoulder
responsibilities to cope with the situation.