INTERVIEW WITH PROFESSOR DANISHMAND, DEAN FACULTY OF MANAGEMENT SCIENCES, INTERNATIONAL ISLAMIC UNIVERSITY, ISLAMABAD
Jan 10 - 16, 2011
Professor Danishmand is Dean Faculty of Management Sciences at the International Islamic University. Before that, he was the Director of Institute of Business Administration (IBA). U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker complimented his work by saying that "the IBA was one of the two institutions in the country run entirely on merit". Mr. Danishmand is an IBA graduate. He continued his studies at USC where he completed his doctoral course work in 1963-65, with major in management. He served as a faculty member and Chairman at the San Fernando Valley State College (now know as California State University, Northridge) from 1966 to 1971. He joined IBA in 1971, and became Associate Professor after one year. Subsequently, he served as Group Director at Atlas Group, and Chief Executive of Atlas Honda, Muslim Insurance, and Allwin Engineering Industries. He turned around each company he headed. Honda Japan wrote him: "You are one of our greatest benefactors". He has been member of board of directors of several other companies. Before joining the IBA in June 2002, he was chairman and chief executive of Suzuki Motorcycles. He is a fellow of British Management Institute and co-author of the book Communication in Business and Industry with James Lee, and also author of "Management Survey" published by MAP. He has authored a number of papers in the areas of communication, economic policy, administration, marketing, and ethics in management. He has received "Award of Excellence in Performance" from IBA and "Lifetime Achievement Award" from Marketing Association of Pakistan. He has been awarded "Erasmus Excellence Award 2006-2007" (Council General Holland). He was chosen by the George Washington University as external examiner.
PAGE: WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ABOUT BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION EDUCATION IN PAKISTAN?
PROFESSOR DANISHMAND: Business is truly global today. Therefore, more than ever before business education demands focus on reality, application of logic and openness to all peoples and cultures. These fundamentals should underlie design and teaching of any business course. The Higher Education Commission is trying to bring some standardization to the curriculum and its delivery in business education. This is useful; however, business administration education has to be delivered in such a way that the students actually get ready for successful practical life. For those who wish to become practitioners in management it is especially important that the curriculum, the classes and the teaching should emphasize merit, punctuality, hard work and training in application of theory to practical issues. This would require the teachers themselves to believe in the importance of time, punctuality, merit and the absolut importance of theory for decisions of life and business. Most of the cases being used in classes in Pakistan are from America. Many of those cases are excellent tools. But, we need to develop and integrate local cases as well as local research into our text and teaching. It is also necessary that we broaden our case material by including cases from Germany, France, China, Britain, and Turkey, etc. Many business games are now available and should be used wherever suited to the training purpose. All business students need to be competent in effective oral and written presentations in English as well as in Urdu. Students from many areas come with considerable weakness in this area. This needs to be emphasized and practiced for substantial benefits to the students. All students should become effective writers, especially in English.
There is a serious need to change our ideas about customer. Right now consciously or unconsciously due to our cultural emphasis on power, status, and money, customer is frequently seen at least unconsciously as a subordinate, dependent person who should be exploited. We need to realize and teach that for real success in business we must see that "customer is king". Our business research should focus on actual problems faced by local companies rather than mere duplication of research done in America, which is being done frequently. MS and Ph.D students would do well to talk to business leaders and senior managers and find out the issues being faced by them and design research to answer those questions.
PAGE: WHAT SHOULD BE DONE TO PROVIDE QUALITY EDUCATION IN PAKISTAN?
PROFESSORDANISHMAND: I think there are some fundamental defects in public sector education, which results in serious damage to the quality of education being delivered in Pakistan. Selection of teachers is reportedly influenced by factors other than merit. Therefore, the very foundation is weak and harmful. Education departments should assign attractive well-informed and well-trained teachers to primary and secondary education. Salary of teachers at this level must be attractive as is the case in Japan. Government needs to allocate substantially larger resources to education. Our allocation of funds for education has fallen below 2 per cent whereas many developing countries are spending around 6 per cent of GNP on education. We must keep in mind that money spent on education is not an expenditure but an investment. It has been proven that money used on education yields highest returns of all possible investments. Our future depends upon understanding the absolute importance of education and focus on quality. We keep hearing about schools being turned into guesthouses or godowns or animal shelters. People who are responsible for allowing something like this to happen should be held accountable for such criminal misuse of public facilities. I also believe that teachers need to be given regular refresher courses in their specialized fields to ensure that they are qualified to deliver accurate and useful information to the students. I am convinced that difficulties in business success result from total abandoning of truth, merit, justice, teamwork and quality which are fundamental for success in any area in life and more so for business. These high values should be kept in mind by all teachers and administrators throughout our education system.
PAGE: HOW WOULD YOU COMMENT ON UNIVERSITY FUNDING FOR RESEARCH?
PROFESSOR DANISHMAND: Belatedly, Pakistani universities have turned to research. This is truly welcome. It has been established that economic development is the result of innovation and entrepreneurship. Without innovation and entrepreneurship, a nation is destined to have a subordinate, slow growth economy. Both of these depend upon encouragement of the young, men and women, to find new and better ways, to develop simpler, more effective designs, methods and products. The universities may develop links with local industries and do research in various areas which may be funded by the business concerns. There are large funds available internationally from numerous organizations which aim to encourage research by providing funds. In certain technology areas, Pakistan government also funds research. There is a need to ensure quality and originality in research. To a large extent, it is a matter of culture. Groups of workers find ways to improve productivity, reduce wastage, improve quality, and save costs. This is the kind of thing we could and should do in our schools, colleges, and universities also.
PAGE: WHAT STEPS SHOULD BE TAKEN TO STOP SKILLED WORKFORCE FROM LEAVING PAKISTAN?
PROFESSOR DANISHMAND: People go abroad when they find no suitable job locally and when they get much better paying jobs abroad. Living in foreign countries generally is not a very attractive for most people, especially when they have to go abroad leaving their families behind. But, if our citizens cannot find suitable jobs in the country, it is better they go abroad. At least they would be earning and saving. There is great potential for development of business and industry in our country, which should be realized. When local and foreign entrepreneurs are given fair chance and suitable social and political conditions and especially it is ensured that justice could be obtained within a reasonable time, businesses would invest, and jobs would be created. As our economy grows many Pakistanis working abroad would come back. Besides industry and construction, agriculture has great potential in our country. Education and scientific research in agriculture should be major source for jobs in the future. Our educational sector needs to grow very sharply for the long run. If proper allocations of funds are made, we would face shortages in filling teaching positions. Sound planning of education and training are needed here.
PAGE: WHAT INCENTIVES EDUCATION SECTOR NEEDS FROM THE GOVERNMENT OF PAKISTAN?
PROFESSOR DANISHMAND: I think the most competent, honest and result driven people should be given key decisions making positions in educational administration. The governments should keep moral and ethical education in general terms. In public sector, all appointments should be on merit and should carry competitive salaries. Private sector schools may be provided opportunities for having their teachers trained in government sponsored training programs. Foundations with a proven track record may be given land for building schools, colleges, and universities at market prices on installments. We should establish a federally subsidized programme for providing low-cost loans to undergraduate and graduate students, which would be repayable in easy installments after graduation. This is very common in the U.S.A. and is growing fast in India. As cost of education continues to rise, this has to be an important means for financing it. Sooner or later, we will have to cede taxation on property to local authorities which should then finance primary and secondary education from the generated revenue.