Founder & President of Pakistan’s Best Selling Business Magazine, Manager Today and CEO Leading Edge OD & Training Consultancy, Author of bestselling book 100 Business Leaders of Pakistan
Not all those who wander are lost.
? J.R.R. Tolkien; The Fellowship of the Ring.
Ijaz Nisar is a very well known and welcome figure within the circles of the movers and shakers of Pakistan’s diverse and productive economy. But, much like every successful individual in the world – each name has a story behind it. From humble beginnings, Ijaz is now regarded as an “Inspirational Guru” – and for good reason. He is responsible for having trained more than 50,000 productive and respectable professionals in Pakistan within the last decade. His Human Resource Development Consultancy Leading Edge has redefined the level of excellence, which can be achieved given sufficient mentoring, training and guidance. Don’t take our word for it; Mega-Giants like The Pakistan State Bank, MCB, Tetrapak Pakistan, Nestle, NIPA, Pepsi, Coca Cola, NBP, HBL, Faysal Bank, Bank Alfalah and UBL (among many others) bring him in on a regular basis to talk to and train their staff.
But the story doesn’t end there; Ijaz is of the view that professionals should not just be guided after they have entered their field of profession; the process of inculcating professional values should start at the source. For this reason, he actively engages with students and is a visiting faculty member at several prestigious business schools throughout Pakistan. His pet project, Manager Today Magazine, is an effort to bridge the gap between those who are trying and those who have succeeded. It is his hope that by learning from the experiences – the trials and tribulations – of individuals who have risen to the top, others will find ways, avenues and means to do the same. Ijaz’s recent book 100 Business Leaders of Pakistan launches carrying interviews of the successful Pakistani entrepreneurs; academicians and managers are another feather in his cap. His books are building a good image of Pakistan at the international level at these testing times.
In short, Ijaz Nisar is the story of a kind, jovial and passionate individual who has dedicated his life to wander – not because he is lost but because it is the easiest way of finding and helping those who are.
Al-Rasub: Please share with us your educational background?.
Ijaz Nisar: I have two master’s degrees in Business Administration from the IBA, Punjab University (PU) and Human Resource from the Institute of Administrative Sciences (PU).
Al-Rasub: What are the Manager Today and the Leading Edge?.
Ijaz Nisar: Manager Today is Pakistan’s first best selling Business Magazine. Its circulation is more than 10,000, while it has 2,000 subscribers across the country. Manager Today is solely dedicated for the personal and professional development of managers, leaders and entrepreneurs. As we all know that Pakistan is not poor in resources but in professional managers. We are not under developed but an under managed country. I had a feeling that the only dilemma of Pakistan was its poverty in effective managers not the resources. So I started this magazine in 2009 with a vision to bring a transformational change in the mindsets of professionals, to help them become more productive in their fields. The whole concept of Manager Today lies in three words: CPD (Continuous Professional Development). Its content includes informative articles, interviews and success stories of renowned business leaders, entrepreneurs, Presidents, CEOs, MDs, women of substance and educationists. These people hold significant importance as they have climbed these heights only through their vision, knowledge, sheer hard work, highest standards of professionalism, credibility and firm belief in time tested values such as integrity, honesty and excellence. These exclusive interviews and indigenous success stories serve as an inspiration to young minds – future entrepreneurs and managers.
Leading Edge is a highly proactive and client focused Human Resource Development Consultancy. As an energetic company, it is hungry for business and is infused with a desire to provide value added services in the competitive and specialized field of training & development and executive recruitment. The mission of Leading Edge is to present high quality training programs in a professional manner, to provide industry with qualified and talented employees and to enable clients to succeed through superior human resource, utilized to maximum advantage. We have trained the employees of over 100 companies so far.
Al-Rasub: What kinds of training programs Leading Edge offers and what kind of response you are getting back?.
Ijaz Nisar: Leading Edge specializes in soft skills development programs. Through seminars and workshops on Human Resources, Key Business Skills, Marketing & Sales, Business Etiquette, International Protocol, Dining Etiquette, Customer Service Etiquette, Presentation Skills and Management Workshops, Management & Leadership Skills, Train the Trainer and Emotional Intelligence etc, Leading Edge teaches important people skills.
We mainly focus on three types of programs. 1. Leadership Program 2. Behavioural Program 3. Technical Program. We offer a large number of customized trainings which meet the needs of every organization. Leading Edge provides specialized training in Etiquette & Manners with the increasing emphasis that organizations have laid on interaction with customers and delivering superior product and service. We believe that we have several training programs which directly benefit the organizations and their employees at all the levels and which are very much in line with improved customer interaction that the organizations are focusing on.
We have been getting excellent response from the corporate sector. Since last five years, we have given training to more than 50,000 people belonging to different public and private organizations.
Al-Rasub: What mechanism do you have to measure the outcomes of your training through Leading Edge?.
Ijaz Nisar: Leading Edge focuses on Training Need Analysis (TNA) and then designs the courses which are jointly reviewed by the clients and the Leading Edge Consultants. It assures effective and smooth flow of training. We assess Return on Training Investment (ROTI) in training by carrying out Post Training Analysis (PTA).It provides better understanding to the organization of the current and desired level of their employees. By the grace of Almighty, we are satisfied with outcomes.
Al-Rasub: Have you ever tied to offer management trainings to the political party leaders? If not, do you have any such plans?.
Ijaz Nisar: No. They are a hard nut to crack.
Al-Rasub: How do you define managers?
Ijaz Nisar: Managers are those who get things done with people and through people. They focus on four areas of management. 1. Planning 2. Organizing 3. Leading and 4. Controlling, thus they achieve the strategic objectives of their organizations.
Al-Rasub: When it comes to management do you think that in third world countries and especially in Pakistan organizations are unable to understand the role of managers or are managers unable to run organizations effectively? Like, we see the major organizations of Pakistan: PIA, Railways and Steel Mills as the examples of ill management?.
Ijaz Nisar: Yes, developing countries have this common problem. Pakistan, too, faces the same issue. Our country is not poor in resources but lacks effective and efficient managers. After realising this problem, I launched Manager Today to help develop effective managers in the country. Yes, to some extent, problem is the same in the organizations that you have just mentioned. They lack good governance. Fundamental principles of management are missing there. We need to introduce the system of corporate governance in these organizations to end the ill management. Through improved system of governance, we can expect a turnaround in their performances.
Al-Rasub: What is the difference between a leader and a manager in the light of your professional experience?
Ijaz Nisar: The basic difference between a leader and a manager is that a leader has a long-term vision while a manager has a short-term vision. Leaders guide and managers control. Leader is a person who takes difficult decisions and faces the consequences of those decisions whereas a manager executes those decisions.
Al-Rasub: As you deal with HR and have a good experience of serving large organizations as a manager, would you like to tell us about the good and bad qualities that you find common in Pakistani human resource?
Ijaz Nisar: The field of HR in Pakistan faces two types of serious problems. First, most CEOs do not completely support the HR functions in their organisations. Second, this attitude restricts the HR departments from efficiently playing their role. The growth of HR departments slows down. They do not also develop the competency to influence the top management. Due to these reasons, we find many organizations lacking a true HR culture.
Al-Rasub: You have also been teaching in different business schools of Pakistan. What do you think about the standard of education being imparted in business schools? Are they compatible with international standards of business studies?
Ijaz Nisar: Except a few institutes of excellence like LUMS and IBA, Karachi University, unfortunately there is a big question mark on the quality of business schools in Pakistan, which have grown like mushrooms in every nook and corner. It’s lamentable that education being imparted at these schools is not compatible with international standards of business education. It has been treated as a profitable business, an industry whose sole purpose is moneymaking rather than delivering quality education to the students.
Al-Rasub: Business community of Pakistan knows the importance of knowledge-based economy. How do you see the future of knowledge based-economy?
Ijaz Nisar: We are all living in the age of globalization. Now no country can even imagine progress without having a knowledge-based economy. To grow economically, it’s imperative for every country in today’s competitive world. I see a very bright future for Pakistan. We have a lot of potential, which should be tapped by establishing a knowledge-based economy.
Al-Rasub: What inspired you to publish ‘100 Business leaders of Pakistan’ and do you have a plan to write another book too?
Ijaz Nisar: During my learning days at Universities, I had always felt a great void, one could find a plethora of business books, articles on professional and personal development, management styles, and success stories of individuals like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, big and small by the western writers, but I could not find any literature that however exists about Pakistani business leaders. They are real contributors to Pakistan’s immense business and economic outlook who excelled despite all odds, obstacles, frustrations, hindrances in the respective domains. We have miserably failed to project our business leaders as heroes – our role models serving as an inspiration for our future generations. Some of these may be unsung heroes. I have been airing such frustration at this gap between business and academia off and on and over a period of time. My training and teachings experiences took a definitive shape and resolved to correct and bridge the gap between business & academia.
Our concept of “100 Business Leaders of Pakistan” was born with the need that most developed countries have huge amount of information available on their business platform and on the business leaders, thought processes of those who are at the helm of these businesses whereas, Pakistan has negligible if any, such quality information about business leaders. We knew we had to start from somewhere, so MANAGER TODAY then took small steps forward that we hope would constitute a comprehensive collection of inspiring stories; business interviews and case studies on business leaders and their organizations.
100 Business Leaders of Pakistan is our 2nd edition, after having successfully launched the 1st edition “Successful Managers of Pakistan” in 2011. Yes, we are now working on the 3rd edition of the book to be launched on April 25, 2013.
Al-Rasub: You are an entrepreneur, manager, leader, teacher, speaker, writer and a trainer. In all these roles what do you enjoy the most?
Ijaz Nisar: For me, all these roles are like different hats, which I wear in different situations to deal with things in an effective manner. However, the role that is close to my heart is of motivational speaker.
Al-Rasub: What is success to Ijaz Nisar and how do you define it after achieving so many milestones?
Ijaz Nisar: Three things come to my mind when I think about the recipe of success. First is positive intent (niyyat). Second is hard work cum smart work and third is persistence. I believe these virtues when put together are bound to make a person successful. Besides, my mantra of success is: your net worth is your network.
Al-Rasub: Which event or achievement in your life do you think is very memorable?
Ijaz Nisar: Conceiving the idea of publishing a corporate sector magazine Manager Today and then running it, and also compiling and launching ‘100 Business Leaders of Pakistan’, the first ever book in history of Pakistan based on the interviews of high-profile personalities of the country’s corporate sector are my most cherished achievements so far. I must say here that my journey has been as tough as that of a woman who goes through a really long and difficult time while becoming a mother.
Al-Rasub: We’ve heard that you are an avid reader. Please tell us about your favourite book.
Ijaz Nisar: Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson, Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl and Talaash by Mumtaz Mufti are my favourite books.
Al-Rasub: Please give a message to students, managers, professionals and the common people.
Ijaz Nisar: Have an unflinching faith in Allah Almighty. Have firm belief in yourself and be optimistic about the future of this country. Keep in mind that if an egg is broken by an outside force, a life ends. If an egg breaks from within, life begins.
Readers can reach out Ijaz Nasir at :