Its not an easy task identifying CEOs in Pakistan. Available data (online and offline) is limited and often unverified; couple that with the competitiveness and high quality talent available in the current market, it makes it a tough job to shortlist candidates.
As with previous years, we review a number of factors which include the standard metrics most businesses consider, but also try to add innovation, social media input, and factors like leadership style to that list too. And as always, we can’t cover everyone but we try our best to highlight a handful of the top brass. Feel free to reach out if you believe someone should be on the list and we have overlooked them, we’d be happy to consider them next year.
Yusuf Hussain – National ICT R&D Fund
Yusuf is a returner from last year. Over the recent years the startup ecosystem has skyrocketed and the government is supporting the innovation. Yusuf is leading the innovation from the front through the National ICT R&D Fund which is deployed under the Minister of IT. He heads the ICT research & development fund which is tasked with growing the knowledge economy through innovation and research.
Previously he has been with Time Warner Cable in the US, lead the Pakistan Software Export Board as MD/CEO and founded companies that have provided organisational transformation and IT policy development to organisations like the UN.
Yusuf tweets @yhuss2000
Junaid Iqbal – Careem
Junaid is somewhat a household name now with the surge in popularity of Careem. Facing stiff competition from Uber, Careem’s marketing ploys like ‘Rishta Aunty’ and ‘Waseem Akram, CEO for a day’ ensure it keeps the multinational behemoth sweating.
Iqbal boasts a BA in Economics from the University of Michigan, later adding to his education at LUMS and Harvard business School. Professionally he has served as CEO in finance and security companies.
Junaid tweets @jiqbalpk
Zeshan Afzal – Shahid Afridi Foundation
Everyone has heard of (Lala) Shahid Afridi and as you will know, he has been active in his philanthropic efforts of late. Afzal is supporting Afridi in running the charity as CEO. The foundation runs various projects such as hospitals, schools initiative and water supply amongst other projects.
Afzal, known for his creative pocket squares, has previously served as CEO at Peshawar Zalmi, Executive Director at Stylo and Associate Director at KPMG.
Shamoon Sultan – Khaadi
Over recent years Khaadi has become one of the leading retailers of clothing with exponential growth throughout Pakistan and worldwide. The colourful designs and reasonable pricing, accompanied by high quality in-store aesthetic have provided a modern shopping experience for its customers.
As graduate of Indus Valley, Sultan majored in weaving. Working with names like Noorjehan Bilgrami and Shahnaz Siddiq, Sultan wanted to bring something unique to the market, the result of which we see today is Khaadi.
Shazia Syed – Unilever
Shazia heads the Pakistani endeavour of one of the largest companies in the world – Unilever, which has a stake in most household items.
Shazia started in Unilever building the Brand in 1989 and has gained experience in various departments since then before being named as CEO in 2015.
Mian Abdul Rehman Talat – BlueEast
Some of you may know Talat from his appearance on the show ‘Idea Croron Ka’. Talat started his career as Marketing Director in the household brand Orient Group of Companies in 2011. In 2016 he has founded BlueEast which is driving innovation by utilising the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT).
Apart from developing their branded IoT solution, BlueEast is supporting the open source ecosystem with a few additions of their in-house software.
Abdul Rehman tweets @artalat
Dr Faisel Sultan – Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital
We’ve all heard of the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital (SKMCH) and Imran Khan who envisioned the initiative but some credit is due to the CEO, Dr Faisel Sultan. SKMCH has become a benchmark for the highest standards for healthcare in Pakistan.
Dr Sultan graduated from King Edward Medical College in 1987 and post graduate in Internal Medicine and Infectious Disease.
Dr Faisel tweets @ceoskmch
Sameer Ahmed Khan – SocialChamp
Khan runs a social media automation software company alongside a software consultancy. Graduating from Karachi University with a BS in Computer Science, Khan has fulfilled roles as a developer going on to starting up a couple of companies which had to close up. He sees the failures as experience which benefit him in his current role.
Sameer tweets @sameerpeace
Bilal Athar – WifiGen (Start Up)
Athar, who we’ve covered in detail before makes it as the CEO under the start up category. He hasn’t taken the traditional academic route and instead gone on to attain two CCIE certifications. Luckily he had a break when he got to pitch his idea for WifiGen to an ex-VP of IBM. The rest as they say is history.
Bilal tweets @bilalathar
PakWired’s Annual CEO List is always evolving, so we’d like to get your feedback. What names would you add and why?