Featured Interviews - Mr. Khalid Muhammad
Mr Khalid Muhammad is an IBA Graduate of 1971 and is currently living in City Palatine Illinois- Chicago. He has worked for organizations like Colgate-Palmolive, AT&T and Comcast. Currently he is working on starting up his own Consulting company which will help companies with $5 - $250 million dollars in revenue.
Please tell us a bit about yourself
I have worked for AT&T and Comcast for about 30 years.
I was born about 10 days before the creation of Pakistan. My dad was in the Indian Civil service and opted to move to Karachi which was then the capital. He was an iron and steel controller in the Government of Pakistan but still he rode a bike to office as he was an honest man. When we move to Tariq Road in 1956 he would ride the #36 bus although he worked with top notch founders of our country. I don't see that simplicity anymore. I am very blessed. My wife Rehana and I have been married for 34 years and have 3 wonderful children.
What can you tell us about your educational and professional background?
My early schooling was at St. Patrick's High School and St Patrick's college. I did my Senior Cambridge from St. Patrick's in 1964. I completed my BA(honors) in Economics from Karachi U and completed my MBA in 1971 from IBA, Institute of Business Administration. I came to USA in 1972 and completed another MBA from Western Illinois U. in 1974. I have worked for nearly 34 years for Colgate-Palmolive, AT&T and the largest USA cable company in my career. Although I am retired I am now working for our own company with some American friends. I am also a 6 Sigma Green belt from Juran Institute and the Chicago Deming Association,
How and why did you decide to set up your own company?
The economic downturn in 2008 and 2009 led to a downsizing and a large number of senior executives were let go. I was 63. I thought that the best use of my talents was to find like minded people like me and start a firm of our own. Joe Piro is a former CEO of a construction company and Steve Krach was a CFO for a large consulting firm. We combined our talents to start our own venture.
Can you tell us a bit about your venture?
We are a small consulting firm. We do enterprise wide consulting work with small companies which need help with their operations. My role as the SVP is TQM, Total Quality Management or Continuous Quality Improvement. Between the three of us founders we enable companies to long term profitability. We live our slogan - We make you better.
What role has IBA played in shaping your professional career?
Back in the 1970s IBA was the only sophisticated institute of learning to be a business leader. It was a highly competitive school to be picked. I considered it an honor to be a student there. Especially, with a high drop-out rate, I learned the early survival and success traits from the school. I also learned that for success at anything the most important trait is constancy of purpose. I have won wide recognition from both AT&T and Comcast two very admired corporations. None of it would be possible for me if it was not for schooling at a fine school like IBA.
What were the biggest hurdles you faced in setting up your company to date?
Establishing the firm's reputation, as the sophisticated hands-on firm that is great at turning business around is going to take time. This is our main challenge. We hope to attain our goal in another 3-5 years.
What would you consider to have been your greatest achievement?
At AT&T I have led teams of 40, 250, 450 & 600 plus. In 1997 I received one of the highest awards, Leading Legend for Operational Excellence. At Comcast my team won a coveted "Circle of Success" for process improvement in 2004. I won the Motorola CEO Quality Award in 2009 for a warehouse improvement project for improvement set-top quality improvement. My greatest career achievements have been public recognition for my dedication and hard work.
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful business?
Detailed planning about the vision, core values, mission and work ethics is essential.
What would you say is the importance of networking and contacts building in starting a consulting company?
It is critical. Also a reputation for excellent performance is very important.
If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
No. Life has been challenging but rewarding
What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
About 20 years ago, I began to lead a small team of 40. Since I had just laterally moved from consulting and auditing I thought that directives can work top down. In real business life the team has to trust you first to be able to follow you. Once I learned that lesson and learned new skills such as wide communication and servant leadership, the same low performing team broke all customer satisfaction results as measured by external surveys.
What trends and changes do you think are occurring in United States and globally in the next 5 years?
You know that social media is big in the world. There will be more innovation in this area and new companies will thrive. Big corporations in the USA will have less dependence on long term full time employees and instead depend more on hired consultants who they let go at will. Technology will thrive along with innovation.
IBA has introduced a new course "BBA in Entrepreneurship". What advice would you offer to prospective students?
Trust your instincts. Shoot for the stars but keep your feet on the ground. There is always room at the top. But you have to earn it the old fashioned way. One day at a time.
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