INTERVIEW WALID MUSHTAQ, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR & COO ROOTS SCHOOL SYSTEM
IT CAN DO WONDERS TO IMPROVE THE STANDARDS OF LIVING IN OUR SOCIETY.
Apr 9 - 15, 2012
Roots School System Pvt. Ltd., now the third largest education system, is a model private sector educational institution styled on the modern educational system of international standards promoting 21st century education and achieving excellence in quality all-round education. Established in April 1988, under excellent leadership, Roots has innovated modern education standards, with universally acclaimed academic excellence and all-round development of students with nearly 15,000 students and branch network of 48 campuses with a presence in more than 11 cities across Pakistan.
PAGE: TELL US ABOUT YOUR ORGANIZATION, STRENGTH OF FACULTY AS WELL AS STUDENTS.
Roots offers continuous education up to undergraduate level with a human resource of nearly 5000 employees working across all tiers in Pakistan. It is our commitment to work for community empowerment initiatives providing educational incentives to underprivileged students by delivering textbooks, notebooks and essentials in order to attract them to schools.
Roots has also worked closely to empower women who constitute 51 per cent of our population by providing them compute and vocational training so as to raise their self-esteem and dignity.
Roots has also established partnerships and collaborations with international education bodies such as Intel, Microsoft, TiE, Confucius Centre, Goethe Institute, University of London, Cambridge, WWF, and Ministry of Environment and provided global exposure to its students by sending them to international competitions such as Mondialogo, IGGY Summer U, IGGY Winter U, ISFiT Norway, NUS Computing Camp Singapore, Tiajin Festival China, International Children Festival Xian Jiang, International Children Culture and Games festival Antalya, Turkey, etc.
PAGE: GOALS AND OBJECTIVES IN YOUR MIND TO ACHIEVE.
WALID MUSHTAQ: In my continuous quest for excellence and optimization of business model, I have plans of marking my organization's presence across 50 cities in Pakistan from exiting number i.e. 11. To enhance the academic prospects, plans are underway for venturing into the realm of higher education. I also have the vision of eventually launching a low cost, high quality model for education having a vast outreach to the small cities and towns of Pakistan to promote quality education for all. Furthermore, plans are in the pipeline to take my model of quality education international.
PAGE: WHAT HURDLES AND CHALLENGES YOU ARE FACING IN MEETING YOUR TARGETS?
WALID MUSHTAQ: The challenges that I have encountered and overcome include the risks associated with venturing into new markets. Expansion into other cities was one of the biggest challenges I faced, as it was a hitherto unexplored territory with no support system and infrastructure available. My second biggest challenge was moving from rented buildings to purpose built campuses. In an endeavor to cut costs and do away with cumbersome rental arrangements, I have successfully ventured into a business model that entails long term lease agreements and purpose built campuses. It is still an ongoing task and I personally lead the business development function personally. Apart from operational challenges, initially my organization was plagued with a dearth of quality human resources. To overcome this challenge I personally adopted a mentoring role and launched Rapid (Roots Academy for professional & Intellectual development), which has successfully trained my academic and managerial staff.
PAGE: INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY HAS TURNED AROUND MANY ECONOMIES AROUND THE WORLD. FOR EXAMPLE, INDIAN IT EXPORTS ARE REACHING THE MARK OF $70 BILLION. WHY PAKISTAN IS LAGGING BEHIND?
WALID MUSHTAQ: There should be steps taken to increase our exports since we are not short of resources in our country. To improve our economic situation we need to enhance our infrastructure so that markets have room to expand. Social entrepreneurship should be encouraged in our economy. Social networking is an important tool for businesses to know who is in the market and what opportunities are going forward.
Better management and loss prevention is also something to invest time and money to yield better profit and operational flow. Improving international ties is also critical for our country to proliferate their interests into the global market. Empowerment of women also plays a very important role to improve society. Last but not the least, illiteracy rate needs to be lowered in order for change to take place.
PAGE: SUGGEST WHAT SUPPLEMENTING ROLE IT UNIVERSITIES AND SCHOOLS CAN PLAY TOWARDS STRENGTHENING OF THE NATIONAL ECONOMY?
WALID MUSHTAQ: We can create jobs by encouraging entrepreneurship and building technical and vocational training centers. IT universities and schools can provide education needed to equip our next generation to find solutions to our issues like the energy crisis, disaster prevention, resource extraction and retention. If we could tap into even 30 per cent of our natural resources, we would be able to compete with any UAE country of today. This is where our IT universities have to play their part and produce graduates who will be the next Tata or steel king.
PAGE: WHAT DO SAY ABOUT THE QUALITY OF IT GRADUATES BEING PRODUCED IN PAKISTAN?
WALID MUSHTAQ: Educational institutes are providing theoretical education about IT; practical aspects of dealing with the IT world are not being addressed in the classroom. There is a need of more practical exposure to students studying in the IT field. Many of our universities don't have the labs and equipment to train their students. Since the IT field starts from the grassroots level, our students need to be very well aware of the environment around them and what logistical challenges lie for them when they start to work in this field.
PAGE: HOW CAN WE USE IT TO COMBAT BURNING ISSUES OF GOVERNANCE IN GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATIONS, LAW AND ORDER AS WELL AS UPGRADING OF LIVING STANDARDS OF COMMON PERSON IN OUR SOCIETY?
WALID MUSHTAQ: IT solutions can do wonders to improve the standards of living in our society. Even today, we see that cell phones and computers have become very common because of cheap and new innovations from the IT field. Along with this, our progress in home appliances technology and mass production and packing of edible goods has given our economy a boost. The government sector today is taking more and more help from private IT companies and professionals who can do projects faster and more effectively rather than just relying on their own personnel. They have seen how competition in the market has promoted excellence and quality, thus using better IT services helps their cause. Slowly we are seeing the results of poor management of technology on the state level and now they have had to turn to the private sector for help. If public private cooperation can flourish, then I think our country will also climb to the headlines of success stories. We have the manpower, now we just need the brains specifically IT brains to lead our projects of tomorrow.