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CEO Club Pakistan launched latest edition of “100 CEOs – Leaders & Companies of Pakistan” this week, in Islamabad. Event at the prestigious Serena Hotel attracted several CEOs, top corporate leaders, diplomats, government officials and media executives. President Azad Kashmir, Masood Khan was the Chief Guest on the occasion.

Ijaz Nisar, the moving spirit behind the book launch, is the founder of the CEO Club & President of Pakistan’s best selling business magazine, Manager Today and CEO of Leading Edge, an organizational development (OD) & Training Consultancy. He is also an author of the Best Selling Book “100 Business Leaders of Pakistan”.

He has over 16 years experience in banking, having worked at the National Bank and State Bank of Pakistan (NIBAF). Where he developed training and OD initiatives in the field of Strategic Leadership & Management Development. Ijaz is a visiting faculty member at a number of prestigious business schools.

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Through healthy monetary benefits, the local corporate sector on the basis of their internationally gained experiences can make their business more competitive at the global level.

He has trained more than 50,000 participants over the past decade. Called by many as an ‘Inspirational guru’, he as a behavioral trainer & writer, has earned a lot of respect for his professional prowess, acumen, and business savvy approach.

His favorite quote is “If an egg is broken by an outside force, a life ends. If an egg breaks from within……..LIFE begins”

Najma Minhas, Managing Editor, Global Village Space (GVS), took the opportunity to talk to Mr. Ijaz Nisar and discuss challenges confronted by top corporate leaders in Pakistan and how CEO club helps overcome them.

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Najma: What is the CEO club and why do you think it was needed?

There is also a need to turn over this stereotypical belief of conceiving CEOs as criminals but rather to see them as the well- wishers of the society who are striving hard for employment creation in the country.

Ijaz: CEO CLUB is a senior gathering of more than 500 top CEOs from the high profile companies in Pakistan. These members’ make up the large representation of an overall corporate sector of Pakistan since we have selected top 10 CEOs from every sector. It would be more appropriate if we refer to the CEO club as the Think Tank of the corporate world.

Companies are major contributors to GDP growth and CEO’s possess profound knowledge about ground realities. Through building up a smooth system of networking and expanding and acting upon the knowledge base of CEOs, we hope to influence the bureaucracy and policy makers on their decision making regarding, for instance, taxes, agriculture, investments, exports, and banking.

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Najma: What is the purpose of the CEO club?

Ijaz: CEO club is not just confined to bringing amiable changes in the policy, but also another purpose is to create Pakistani oriented success and leadership case literature. To this end, we publish a book ‘Top 100 CEOs,’ which fills the vacuum of having a local or indigenous corporate perspective for management students in Pakistan. The first edition was published in 2012 and this year we have brought out its sixth edition.

The content of the book provides a case study for local students about the local leadership and development programs initiated by these companies. In the book with the help of a comprehensive questionnaire based on 35 Key Performance Indicators, it explores three aspects of the leadership and management experts of the Pakistani corporate world. The research provides a detailed analysis regarding their mindset, skill set, and value set.

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Najma: Apart from publishing books what are the other endeavors CEO club have undertaken?

Ijaz: We have established the state of art Institute named “Management Institute” in Lahore with its network present in Islamabad and Karachi. In collaboration, with the internationally prestigious management institutes such as Harvard Management Institute, Indian Institute of Management, Singapore Institute of Management, and locally with LUMs and IBA-Karachi, our Institute brings the best management resource person to provide training to corporate level management.

Through building up a smooth system of networking and acting upon the knowledge base of CEOs, we hope to create some strong influence on the bureaucracy and policy makers on their decision making.

We also welcome CEOs from across the globe in our special summits, which are held twice or thrice in the year. The aim here is to develop B2B relations and promote the exchange of ideas. We will be holding the next summit this year in November in Karachi, while our long terms plans are to extend this summit on an international level.

Najma: What are the challenges confronted by the CEOs in Pakistan and how CEO club helps overcome them?

Ijaz: The first challenge is the government itself, instead of being the facilitator, the uncertain taxation policies imposed by the ministry of finance makes CEOs of the companies in doubt about the profitability of their businesses. Other than this, high-interest rates create serious liquidity problems for small businesses. Secondly, due to a serious problem of brain drain and lack of a general educational policy at the government level, Pakistan’s management sector is deficient in many areas professional and quality human resource talent.

There is a tendency in Pakistan, a stereotypical belief of seeing  CEOs as criminals – criticizing their pay and so on. In fact, people should see them as the well-wishers of society who are striving hard for employment creation in the country as well as profits for their company.

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In the book with the help of a comprehensive questionnaire based on 35 Key Performance Indicators, it explores three aspects of the leadership and management experts of the Pakistani corporate world

There are also ‘inside challenges’ for companies. At the core of the issue lies the family-oriented culture against the need to move towards a more professional managerial corporate and governance culture. As opposed to the first generation of local company CEOs or ‘seths’, which is oblivious to technological advancement and changes, their second generation – which has often gone abroad for studies –  is more strongly rolling the wheels of inducing a change towards more professional and technologically oriented corporate environment.

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