Ijaz Nisar is the Founder of CEO Club, CEO Today Magazine and President of Management House. He is also the author of “100 Business Leaders and CEOs of Pakistan”. Nisar is also a member of the visiting faculty of various prestigious business schools in Pakistan.
He is known for his professional prowess, acumen, and business-savvy approach. Safety & Security Today sat down with him to get an insight into his management philosophy.
SST: Tell us something about your educational and professional background?
I did Masters in Business Administration from the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Punjab University. I have also done Masters in Human Resource Management and MPhil in Public Policy and Management from the same University.
As far as my professional background is concerned, I joined the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) as an Officer Grade-II. At National Bank I rose to the position of Executive Vice President. After my time at NBP, I joined the State Bank of Pakistan as the Head of Training, Leadership and Management.
SST: You’re the CEO of CEO Club and President of Management House. Tell us about both these organizations?
CEO Club is a think tank comprising of top CEOs of the country. We also publish a book by the name of Top 100 CEOs of Pakistan which has profiles of the top CEOs of the country.
The book has a yearly edition and is being taught at various universities in Pakistan.
Management House, on the other hand, is a leadership development institute. We develop the future and existing leaders of Pakistan.
SST: What kind of trainings does Management House provide? How important is the role of such trainings to enhance the skills and productivity of employees?
Training is all about improvement and professional development. We provide training in three different areas. The first is leadership development where we provide leadership training to CEOs. A CEO can bring a massive change in any organization and the training we provide helps in achieving this.
Trainings are also provided to middle management to enhance their leadership, team building, and management skills.
Technical training, where the focus is on emerging trends such as Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain and Big Data Analytics is also offered by Management House. Other than that, we are providing training in Islamic Banking, Islamic Finance and numerous other areas in collaboration with leading institutes such as the Institute of Business Administration Karachi.
SST: You are a member of visiting faculty at various prestigious universities in Pakistan. How do you see the management programs being offered at different universities? Are you satisfied with the curriculum and teaching methodologies being used?
There is a huge gap between academia and the demands of the corporate sector. The curriculum taught at most universities is not in accordance with the needs of the corporate world. For instance, there are very few universities that are offering courses in Artificial Intelligence and other modern technologies.
Another major concern that I have is that our universities are not developing critical and analytical thinking in students. Universities should produce thinkers, not grads who have degrees but little competency.
SST: There is an impression that there is huge gap between what is being taught at universities and what the market expects from graduates. Do you agree with this view? How can this gap be bridged.
After the 18th Amendment, the curriculum, syllabus, planning, centers of excellence and standards of education and policy matters in the education sector including higher education were fixed as the domain of provincial governments.
We also have multiple education systems running in parallel; the madrassah system, public school system and English-medium or private school system. To improve the standard of our graduates we need to bridge this gap by developing a modern national curriculum and train teachers.
SST: There is also a trend in Pakistan to associate higher value to technical degrees (whether its engineering disciplines or medical sciences) compared to management sciences. Is this a global trend?
Technical education has its worth, but management science is the mother of all knowledge areas. We do have doctors and good engineers, but we need these doctors and engineers to be good at management roles as well, which is what we lack.
SST: Coming to the characteristics that set apart a regular person from one in management role. What qualities do you think a manager should have?
A good manager should have exceptional communication and decision making skills. Team management is also a vital skill. We have individuals who are brilliant when working on their own but cannot work in teams or manage teams. This is where a good manager saves the day.
SST: Are there any management practitioners or business leaders globally that you look up to?
I am a follower of Peter Drucker who is the founder of “modern management”. In Pakistan I regard Dr. S. M. Naqi who is the Director of Spel Group of Industries as my role model. I have learnt the very basic principles of management from him.
SST: You are also the publisher of business magazine CEO Today. What made you launch this magazine and how has the response been from business circles?
CEO Today was initially launched by the name of Manager Today. Before launching the magazine I did some research. I found around forty magazines in the market and 90% of them were fashion magazines. I figured that magazines in Pakistan lack vision and good content. So my key motivation behind launching this magazine was to provide quality content to readers instead of focusing on fancy pictures. To ensure that the magazine I publish is of high standard, I set the Harvard Business Review and Forbes as benchmark for my magazine.
SST: You have a long and very successful career. Is there any particular initiative or achievement which you are really proud of?
Management House is something I am really proud of. It is one of the finest professional development institute in Pakistan. I am not exaggerating when I say that people who visit Management House are at times stunned to see an institute of this standard operating in Pakistan. It gives me a sense of achievement when I hear that people compare Management House to top business schools of U.S.
SST: Are there any initiatives/projects in the pipeline that we will see in the near future?
My newest initiative is “Learn Fest’, which is a learning festival. I have once again gone against the trend by launching this festival, usually we have food festivals or music festivals but this is the first time a learning festival has been arranged. The theme for the first Learn Fest is Allama Muhammad Iqbal’s concept of “Self” (Khudi).
Other than that, later this year Management House is going global. We’re setting up a chapter of Management House in Vancouver, Canada. We’re also linking up with top business schools of North America and Europe. We will collaborate with them to launch various management related certifications in Pakistan at Management House.
SST: What is your vision for Management House for the next 10 years?
My vision for the next 10 years is to equip our youth to be future leaders. I plan to achieve this target by bringing the best leadership practices from around the world to Pakistan.
SST: What is success to you?
Success has many fathers and failure is an orphan. But if you ask my definition of success it is winning the hearts and minds of people.
SST: Any message you’d like to give to management practitioners and management students?
My simple message to youngsters is not to lose hope, which unfortunately a lot of people in this country have done. Our country is going through a testing time but we are blessed with so much talent that with the right education and guidance, the future will be very bright.