A silver lining …
Some days I get really fed up of the negativity that surrounds me. Moans and groans about everything from the state of the roads to the state of business and education and the quality of food in restaurants. I guess I must be guilty of it too. Such things are contagious. But guys what about the good things? There must be some, right? I remember as I was growing up, my parents always said that we should be grateful for the things we had instead of yearning for that which we didn’t. That was very sound advice.
So how come we don’t share the good things that happen to us? Is it because they are not newsworthy? Or is it that we are so busy surrounding ourselves with discontent that we don’t even notice when sunshine creeps through the cracks. Let’s break this mould of negativity for heaven’s sake – I’ll begin!
Last week I had a couple of experiences that made me feel good about being a part of the IT industry in Pakistan. Actually that is not quite true. The last few weeks and months have been full of exciting stories – Scrybe, Orgoo, PixSense, Five Rivers, AboutUs.org to name just a few. So I should not have been surprised I guess.
What the hell am I talking about? Well, the first thing that happened was that I was asked by Jawwad Farid of Alchemy Technologies (yes him again! – he seems to keep hogging the limelight on this blog, doesn’t he?) to sit in on Alchemy’s Board meeting. I must admit I was surprised and felt extremely honoured because board meetings are meant to be very confidential and hush-hush – a place where the management is torn to shreds, hard facts faced and decisions made for the future.
Well, this meeting was different and I am glad I sat in on it – they went through the figures, the addition of board members, giving away stake in the company to additional members of the senior team, pay scale rises, etc etc. What made me feel good was that this young company had not only met its growth targets for the year ahead of schedule but it was now headed for accelerated growth. It was also sharing the fruits of its success with the development, domain and customer service teams.
More importantly, it was keeping its core group together by showing its appreciation for their contribution and taking them along on the exciting journey that they have now embarked on after having been through the rollercoaster ride. I tell you it was absolutely exhilirating. Warmed my heart. Good luck Jawwad, Fawzia, Mujtaba, Arif – and all the rest of the Alchemy team. Here, in Jawwad’s own words, is how it all began.
That same afternoon I met with another young man – Kubair Shiraze, CEO of Ikonami, a London-based company with a development arm in Islamabad. They are a Human Capital Management (HCM) systems and services provider. They help customers transform themselves through technology, enabling human capital through Talent, Learning and Team Performance Management products and services as well as Workforce Compliance and Workforce Planning and Management processes. One of their major clients in the UK National Health Service.
As Kubair explained how he had started Ikonami and built it into a successful IT company, I was impressed with his level of confidence and understanding of the market in which he worked, and of the challenges that needed to be overcome if we in Pakistan are to continue and accelerate the growth or our sector.
Strange how he started the company though. He was working for a firm in the UK and was obviously doing well. His British boss told him that he was restricting his talents and his potential by staying where he was and arranged for him to move to another firm where he had more opportunity to show what he could do. As the company grew and made more and more money, the guy who owned it decided to split it up between seven of the key people who were responsible for its success. Ikonami was one of those seven (I hope i have the story right. There may be a few inaccuracies that I am sure Kubair will correct).
Much as I was impressed by this young man’s success, it was something else that made me sit up and take notice. As Ikonami’s development office in Islamabad has grown, Kubair has realized that there are a few areas we need to work on in Pakistan – innovation needs more attention. So he started an Innovation ThinkTank some years ago which meets regularly to discuss new ideas. It started within the company but has now started inviting others from within the IT sector who want to sound out crazy ideas.
The second project that he is beginning now is the addition of a Human Computer Interaction course at NUST. Professors/Lecturers will be flown in from City University London, of which Kubair himself is an alumnus, to conduct this course. It is Kubair’s belief that HCI has not received enough attention in this country and is an area that needs focus. Instead of waiting or complaining, he has decided to take this initiative himself. Now that’s what I call a man of action! He has also offered to work with P@SHA in any areas of Policy or Education where he can make a difference. So Ashraf and Jawwad get in touch with him – volunteers are not that easy to come by.
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