Featured Interviews - Tryst with Destiny

Mr Shahid Hashmi talks of his journey of self-discovery

 

By Haris Tohid Siddiqui
Alumnus 2006
Manager Alumni Affairs and Resource Mobilization, IBA Karachi

 

Mr. Shahid Jawaid Hashmi, IBA Alumnus 1971, is currently Managing Partner at Pure Foods Management, a Popeye Louisiana Kitchen and Burger King Franchisee spread all across North East of the United State, growing annually at 10-15% with annual revenues to exceed $60 million by 2014. Prior to following his heart, he worked in the telecommunication sector in the US for more than 2 decades assuming key management positions. Mr. Hashmi is also one of the generous donors of IBA.

 

Almost always when we receive Alumni visiting IBA for a campus tour, we get a phone call from them informing of their arrival at the premises. But when Mr. Shahid Jawaid Hashmi walked straight into my office without demanding the usual protocol, I knew humility was his biggest trait. A Google search would prove my claim right since the only information available on him is his LinkedIn profile devoid of the mundane narcissism, a hallmark of such professional networks. True to his demeanor, this how Mr. Hashmi describes himself on his LinkedIn profile:

“An entrepreneur running a Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen restaurant chain in the north east United States. Experience in corporate finance having previously worked in MNC for over 20 years before starting pwn business.”

Mr. Hashmi left for the land of opportunities right after his MBA from IBA in 1971. A bright student with a thirst for success, Mr. Hashmi, like most of his IBA peers, was groomed for a job in the corporate world. And so he did; but not before completing another MBA from Western Illinois University. “My second MBA was more out of my interest in getting a majors in Finance and Financial Management Services than the salability issue of IBA degree. IBA was modeled on US business schools and we had the best faculty in Pakistan at that time”, proudly said Mr. Hashmi while we chatted about his travails in the foreign land.

Like all professionals climbing the success ladder, Mr. Hashmi's more than 2 decades of work experience in telecommunication sector provided him with a sound financial base but could not smother the entrepreneurial spirit within. “After 20 years of service coupled with a handsome salary, my wife and I had enough savings so we decided to invest in prospective companies”, reminisced the amiable Mr. Hashmi as he leaned back on his chair to explain what proved to be the turning point in his life. “One day, a friend of ours presented us with an opportunity to buy a Popeye’s franchise (a renowned fried Chicken eatery in the United States) and we decided to go ahead.”

Mr. Hashmi’s journey as an entrepreneur started alongside his job but as he wryly put it, “You’re either an Entrepreneur or you’re not. There’s no in between”. Soon, he observed pilferage and loss in financial books in his first franchise and decided to call it a day to his profession of more than 20 years. Mr. Hashmi took a severance package from his last employer and took to the road least travelled by most of his IBA contemporaries.

So how did you know it was the right time to let go? I asked, hoping to unravel the secret to his success. “There is no right time. If I had known, I would not have waited for more than 20 years. I could not let my investment go down the drain but seriously had no idea of the consequences of my decision. ” What ensued was nothing short of a miracle, in the next two decades, one after the other Mr. Hashmi bought Popeye’s franchises and is currently the proud owner of 44 such outlets all across North East America with annual revenues expected to exceed $60 million. He even plans on opening up a Popeye’s franchise in Pakistan, he did not know when but it seems the idea is highly likely to see realization once it enters his head.

With more than 1200 employees working for him, Mr. Hashmi could not satiate his desire for more. He has now acquired 2 franchises of the famous Burger King, diversified his portfolio by establishing three state-of-the-art gymnasiums and constructing a huge dry cleaning house.

As I took him around the campus, I could see Mr. Hashmi trying to remember his days at the campus but failed to conjure up any images since the newly built facilities was a barren land in his days. Only when we approached the old buildings (renovated of course now), did the vestiges of his past returned. “During our orientation, the first words, Dr. Hashmi (alluding to the then faculty member) uttered were, ‘look to your left, look to your right, by the end of semester, one of them would not be here’. To an extent, he was right.”

During the campus tour, Mr. Hashmi felt at ease strolling in the premises praising the IBA of his times and today. “We were probably one of the few educational institutions back then who could boast a fully air-conditioned library and auditorium. So envious was the Karachi University crowd that the authorities put a ban on IBA students roaming in other parts of university.” But he admitted that adventuring souls including himself would doff off their IBA badges from their gowns and loiter about wherever they like.

Before his departure, I showed Mr. Hashmi his name etched on one of the walls of the Alumni Students’ Centre dedicated to individuals/groups who had committed to buy a unit of the facility for PKR 5 million. He was among the first few who answered the call of their alma mater in 2011. As he looked up on my insistence to see his name, humility once again exuded the man as he looked away citing glare of the sun.

“I owe it all to IBA who broadened my horizon and explore the uncharted territory. It instilled in me the humility and discipline required to exceed in the uncompromising business world”, asserted Mr. Hashmi before he drove away from his second home to continue his dream job.

 

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