Featured Interviews - Mr. Tahir Malik
1. Tell us about
yourself (Academic Qualifications & Achievements).
I did my O levels from St Paul's School back in 1988. If I remember well, I came second in school in O levels, thanks to the pressure from my father to achieve good grades and my hard work. But then decided to experience college life and went on to Commerce College (more fun than studies) and then on to IBA. I graduated in 1995 from the Morning campus.
2. Previous Important positions held:
I am currently the CEO for Reckitt Benckiser Turkey. I took over this wonderful business last summer and prior to that, I was the CEO RB for West Asia (Pakistan and Afghanistan).
3. How did you start your career and how has your professional journey been so far?
Right after the MBA final exams (and before the comprehensive paper - "compre" as it was called then), I was picked by Procter and Gamble as an ABM (June 1995). My first 8 years were spent in Pakistan moving up the ranks and becoming the first Pakistani Marketing Director and the last eight in Europe in Regional assignments in Brussels and Geneva.
4. Do you think IBA produces global graduates that can compete internationally?
Certainly YES!. In Reckitt Benckiser, we have IBA graduates that are placed all over the world and are doing very well. I myself am an IBA graduate and am heading one of our biggest businesses. All my predecessors were educated in top US or European business schools.
5. What qualities are International employers looking for in prospective employees?
Having worked in 4-5 countries in different assignments, I have seen some common traits that set apart "water walkers" from the rest, winners from losers. In my view these are applicable everywhere, irrespective of the country or the organization. These are my Big 5 that I look for in managers.
Hungry People : There is no better use of the saying "you can take a horse to the water but can't make him drink" than in careers. You need to absolutely have that fire in the belly, desire to win, to beat your personal best and keep driving your career as a result. You have to be hungry for Success. It has got to come from within . In my career, I have seen "hungry people" with a huge passion to win, actually winning big. My advice - Always play to win and not just to have fun!
Straight Thinkers : At least in the field that I am in, we don't make space rockets but manufacture and sell simple every day consumer goods to a simple straightforward housewives. Strategies, Plans and Executions have to be simple YET Breakthrough. And hence straight thinkers do much better than complicated souls.
Big Game Hunters : Life is a gamble and corporate life is no different. People who make it big in corporate world have the guts to take risks, experiment, try new things, even fail and learn. One absolutely should be a big game hunter. One should always always dream BIG!
Resilience : In life we all fall down. Every one falls down, buts what's important is how fast we get up and start running again. Resilience is absolutely key to be successful in corporate world. I have seen too many people without fighting spirit go down and not bounce back during a bad patch in their careers.
Humility : My opening thought was hunger for success and closing point is humility. The day you get arrogant, your learning curve comes to an end. Plus no one wants to work with a smart Alec and there are quite a few out there. Make sure you are not one of them.
6. Having worked abroad do you think Pakistani professionals have the right skills to perform in a global arena?
Absolutely. Pakistanis as a nation are hugely hungry for success and take their careers very seriously. Our basic orthodox yet comprehensive schooling system allows us to handle pressure from class 1 and makes us straight thinkers with all the Maths and Add maths we are made to do. Also Pakistanis are proud yet humble people with feet on the ground.
Pakistanis are a treat to work with and Pakistani community has a wonderful image within the Reckitt Benckiser world.
7. What improvements (If any), do you think, are required at IBA to make it into a world-class institution?
IBA has to go more global . There are so many opportunities available in terms of students exchange with top universities of the world, working with MNC for international placement of their students etc. Even attracting a much more international student body.
8. Graduates these days complain of lack of opportunities in the International market. Do you think this is the case?
This is universal concern that has been there for 100 years and would always be there for another century. Its more a myth than a fact. Back in 1995, when we were graduating, we felt the same way, yet the entire class got jobs in Pakistan and abroad within a few months.
Globally, companies are doing well and expanding their footprints in new geographies, new ventures. I see lots of opportunities all around the world.
9. What message would you like to give to the present IBA students and alumni who wish to explore global markets?
I truly believe that the best way to go international is to start with a Multinational within Pakistan and then move out with that company to different broadening assignments. At RB, typical assignments are 2-3 years and then people move out. We believe we are a truly global company and hence don't hire for a particular country but hire for the globe.
10. How was the IBA experience for you as a student? Please share a memorable anecdote from your days at IBA.
IBA was one of the best times of my life. Fun, friends, grinding, learning , taking pressure, falling down , running again, surviving! - All that I learnt prepared me for this corporate world. I owe a lot to IBA!
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