The constant stream of visitors in Pindi spoke volumes
Each time we organize an event, there are dissenting voices warning us that it is not needed – that it won’t work, that we are bound to fall flat on our faces. We listen to those voices because we value different points of view. However, very often I feel that pessimism often keeps people from trying to do something that might benefit a significant group of people.
I guess the entrepreneurial spirit within me wants to take the risk. I know there is a chance of failure but if you believe strongly enough in something, and you work hard toward it, isn’t it a risk worth taking? We are always telling aspiring entrepreneurs not to fear failure. So then shouldn’t we practice what we preach?
When we decided to hold the P@SHA Career Expo again this year, there were some dissenting voices telling us it wasn’t needed, that companies were not hiring, that there weren’t enough good people available out there, that no-one wanted to attend workshops.
The Karachi event showed that this wasn’t true. Some companies posted as many as 80 vacant positions, young people came out in large numbers to attend the event, to network, to attend workshops and seek counseling.
When we headed for Pindi, the voices of doom warned us that the Pindi/Islamabad market was different, and we should cancel the event. I must admit I was concerned when a couple of the larger players decided not to participate. However, we decided to go ahead anyway because we recalled the excitement of the Pindi crowd the year before.
The night of August 1, I was restless wondering how the next day would pan out. The team and I had worked real hard; we had good supportive partners and a reasonable number of good companies who were putting up booths. There were speakers and counselors lined up – people willing to give their time to show direction to young people. But would the jobseekers show up, I asked myself? Boy did they! There were thousands of them – more than twice as many as last year.
Even before the companies had their booths ready, the young people started pouring into the PC Marquee Area in Rawalpindi. As the day progressed the numbers just kept increasing. The companies were kept busy, as were the counselors, and the workshops were packed to capacity as they had been in Karachi.
Owais Anjum ran the first session on “Hiring Fresh Gruaduates – An Employer’s Perspective”. I joined him part of the way through and both of us answered a lot of questions that were fired at us. There were also a couple of people in the audience from training organizations and multinationals who contributed with suggestions and shared their own experiences. That added value to the interaction.
The next workshop on Presentation Skills was run by me. There was no impromptu panel that joined me this time (as had happened in Karachi) so I was on my own. But the questions were so good and the interest so high that it became a very intense session. No chance of anyone falling asleep. Interestingly enough, at the end of the session, someone from the Aga Khan Skills Development Unit came up to me and asked if I would be able to run the session in the less developed parts of Pakistan. We exchanged contact information and I guess some of us should get together and fill this need if it does indeed exist.
As the day progressed it got busier. The Counselors were in great demand too. Thanks to the BearingPoint Counseling team, the ones Brightspyre brought in and the ones who came at my request. They worked so patiently with the young visitors, helped them with career selection and career growth and with their CVs. It was great to see. Thank you guys and gals.
The introduction of the Special Interest Group session on Rich Web Applications was a welcome addition. And experts Owais Anjum and Atta from Numetrics and Faizan Buzdar from Scrybe discussed the growing use of Rich Web Applications and how they were changing the way customers interacted with corporations. Partly technical and partly concentrating on UI and customer interaction, it was a very useful session. It is hoped that this will become a regular SIG that can be a platform for sharing ideas and knowledge.
The Startup Insiders session wrapped up the Career Expo in Pindi. On the panel were Imran Zia – Chairman of P@SHA, Atif Mumtaz – coFounder of Brightspyre, Faizan Buzdar – CEO of Scrybe, Faisal Butt – CEO of Tribal Monsoon and Faisal Chohan CEO of Cogilent. I was the self-appointed moderator.
The theme was “Transitioning from being an employee to becoming an entrepreneur”. Each of the speakers started by giving an introduction of themselves and telling the audience why they had decided to give up a salaried position to become an entrepreneur; what was it that drove them to take the plunge. After the introductions I opened up the session to the audience so that their questions could be answered.
The SI sessions have now started breaking out into useful one-to-one or one-to- several mentoring and coaching sessions on specific segments but since this time the SI was part of the overall P@SHA Career Expo it was felt that an audience-driven Q&A approach would work better. And so it did.
There were loads of questions – how to deal with the fear of losing a well-paid job at Teradata to start your own business, dealing with failure, how does one know that the time is right to start a venture, where to get the money, how to convince parents and family that this is the right move, etc etc.
Each person on the panel dealt with the questions in his/her own unique way. Faizan tried anecdotes and personal experience which worked well with the audience. Atif was very encouraging and talked about the struggles that he had learnt from, Imran played a Kasauti-type game with people in the audience to bring out their fears and deal with them, Faisal talked about the experience of going from a service driven model to a product driven model and returning again to a service driven model.
All of us pointed out that there was now an eco-system of mentors and coaches and entrepreneurs willing to help and advise young aspiring entrepreneurs. However, the panel all agreed that not everyone was cut out to be in business for himself/herself. Only you could know whether you were an entrepreneur at heart. And if an idea or concept kept you awake nights, the best time to try it out would be when you had less financial obligations and could afford to fail. The first few failures could be the beginnings of future success. Even VCs are more inclined to bet on someone who has failed a few times!
Jawwad Farid’s book on Venture Failure was mentioned. Overall it was a very good interactive session.
It had been a great day for organizers, exhibitors and participants alike. The Ambassadors from MAJU and NUST did a terrific job once again. Some of them had been with us at the previous event and were therefore able to lead. The Brightspyre team were wonderful collaborators. And the P@SHA team – Mustafa and Sadia – were brilliant and put in every possible effort to ensure that everything went according to plan.
The day ended perfectly for me when I received a call from a friend whose organization had set up a booth only because I had nagged him into doing it. He said to me that he had heard from his team that the event was a fantastic success, to which I commented “You sound surprised … you are a cynic my friend.” His reply made my day – “I am always happy to be proved wrong … “, he said 🙂
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