GVS: Kindly tell us about yourself and how did you get involved with Zameen.com?
Ahmad Bhatti: I belong to Islamabad and have done my MBA from LSE; currently serving as the Country Head at Zameen.com. I had a passion for e-commerce, so I began my first full-time job with a job-hunting portal called Rightmove as a Marketing Executive.
I then switched to the Telecom Industry as I got an opportunity to work with a local ISP company. After gaining six years of experience in the Tele Sales industry, I then switched to TPL as a Regional Manager, which is a leading tracker and insurance company. We pioneered the launch of multimedia car screens in Pakistan at TPL insurance and it was such a good learning experience considering market expectations and new dynamics.
I was just going through career portals and I came across Zameen.com’s career page; by that time, I had no idea about this company and thought it was related to the agriculture sector. I saw the Regional Manager position was open and just applied for it. To cut it short, I got selected after the interview process and was hired by Zameen.com as a Regional Sales Manager; however, within a relatively short period of time, I was promoted to Regional Head (North). I stayed at this position for around two years, after which I was promoted to Country Head which is my current designation.
GVS: What qualities do you think are important for becoming an efficient real estate professional?
Ahmad Bhatti: The three qualities that one must have in this field are the ability to think out of the box, be proactive and be highly passionate.
GVS: How is Zameen.com different from other real estate portals?
Ahmad Bhatti: As an organization, the foremost important thing is transparency. This company is based on honesty and is a place where the truth will always prevail, whether someone likes it or not. The company, in my opinion, has been built on transparency and nobody is selling the product based on manipulative behavior. Deliverance, again, is a great aspect as what we promise we deliver to the customers and investors and that’s why there is trust in Zameen.com in the market. Another major factor is our backend structure linked to the portal, which is quite strong and is one of a kind in the country.
Read more: Zameen Holds Pakistan Property Show 2022
GVS: What are the inspirations for opening offices abroad as in KSA?
Ahmad Bhatti: We already have a presence in KSA and it came from our desire to facilitate Pakistani expats living abroad. The brand name that we have built over the years is accepted by our overseas Pakistanis and as I said, our company’s reputation has been built on honesty; therefore, our people living abroad express their interest in projects brought forward by Zameen.com. It is due to this trust placed in our company, and our wish to facilitate our people living abroad that we have opened offices in other countries, particularly in the MENA region.
What, in your opinion, has been the biggest challenge faced by Zameen.com so far?
Ahmad Bhatti: The real estate sector is quite challenging in Pakistan due to the absence of RERA (Real Estate Regulatory Authority). There is no such authority that regularizes real estate, so in that case, some difficulties do arise and since our company is standing on honesty, we have to go the extra mile in checking the credibility of a certain project which, in my opinion, is a task that some central authority should take up. So, this has been and I think will remain, a big challenge for us.
GVS: How is the real estate sector appealing to a younger generation?
Ahmad Bhatti: The new generation is now highly interested in real estate as Zameen.com has changed the perception of property dealers and the industry as a whole. I still remember that even 10 years back, people had no interest in working in the real estate sector; but now people from all walks of life, particularly young people from reputed universities, are coming here as they get decent roles and opportunities to raise their career profile and lifestyle.
GVS: Do you think universities in Pakistan have the capacity to produce individuals who can work right after graduation, or do you think Zameen.com can bridge the gap by collaborating with academia?
Ahmad Bhatti: There used to be a gap in the past, but now, since universities are changing their academic practices and are incorporating modern concepts, this is changing for the better. For example, many universities are now offering real estate as a course that enables individuals to learn key concepts about the field. As far as collaborating with academia is concerned, we have already launched our Zameen Academy initiative, where we offer training courses on real estate sales. The participants have to go through extensive lectures and tests for completion of the courses and many are hired by Zameen.com as soon as the course is completed. So, I think it’s a really good initiative by Zameen.com.
GVS: How does Zameen.com keep up with the needs of the changing environment?
Ahmad Bhatti: Innovation is something that has always been a part of Zameen.com. We started as a thorough real estate portal and at that time, the company was just focused on that particular aspect. However, over the years we realized that we had to do something bigger, so we jumped to marketing and sales. Quite ironically, our international partners have always questioned our new ventures, such as marketing, transaction businesses, etc., but we have been able to manage that as we innovate, considering the need of the market
GVS: What would you say about Zameen.com’s recent Pakistan Property Show in Dubai and its impact?
Ahmad Bhatti: Zameen.com’s recent Pakistan Property Show (PPS) turned out to be a resounding success. The grand-scale property gala was held on September 10 and 11 at the Dubai World Trade Centre and experienced a footfall of over 20,000 visitors, which was a 20 percent increase over our last event. It featured more than 60 stalls by the most prominent developers in the local real estate industry, who displayed over 200 of the best real estate projects for sale in Pakistan. Attendees got the chance to peruse through a brilliant range of investment opportunities that all promised impressive long and short term returns.
GVS: Are you satisfied with the participation at the PPS? Who was there?
Ahmad Bhatti: As I stated earlier, the event attracted over 20,000 people over the two days it was held. In addition, the Director General of the Dubai Land Department H.E Sultan Butti Bin Mejren inaugurated the event along with Zameen.com CEO Mr. Zeeshan Ali Khan. Several Prominent journalists from Pakistan were also present on the occasion, including Waseem Badami, Muhammad Maalick, Shifa Yousafzai, and Shafaat Ali. Hopefully, we can ensure that the next edition of the event is even grander in scale.