Team Pakistan wins accolades even before the Awards announcement!
As we sat together in the Final Judges’ Briefing this morning viewing the results of the APICTA 2011 competition, there were mixed emotions – a great deal of pride for all those who had embarked on this amazing journey with us and a feeling of satisfaction at the results Team Pakistan has achieved this year. Stephen Lau, an APICTA stalwart and the Chairman of the Hong Kong Computer Society, came over to Jawwad Farid and me and said “It has been heartening to see how Pakistan’s performance at APICTA has evolved over the years.” He remembered how we had begun with a consolation prize in the form of a “Special Mention” at APICTA in Hong Kong in 2004 and another Special Mention at the event in Macau in 2005. Our very first APICTA win had been in Chiang Mai in 2006 and I remember how thrilled we had been to bring the Award home for the first time.
This was also the year that Alchemy Technologies had participated at APICTA and Jawwad and his team had been absolutely shattered that they hadn’t won. That was when he embarked on his own personal mission (with me as his partner in crime) to ensure that all APICTA participants were coached and mentored prior to their participation even if it meant torturing them by depriving them of sleep and making them do several dry runs after getting them to turn their presentations around. This has been our practice every year. It starts in Pakistan and goes on till the moment they go before the judging panel. And it works.
Every year Team Pakistan has brought more and more accolades by performing brilliantly. I speak here of not only the Awards they win. I am referring to the perceptions they change through networking, developing relationships in the region and putting their hearts and souls into presenting their products before distinguished judges from the region.
Bill Liu from Singapore walked in on one of our mentoring sessions day before yesterday and remarked “Gosh you work them hard! It shows your passion and commitment to the growth of your sector and the people who work in it.” We never miss an opportunity to introduce Bill to the talent from Pakistan. This year he had long conversations with Dr. Shoab Khan from CARE, Salman ul Haq from Tunacode and Abdul Aziz from Lumensoft. One could clearly see how impressed he was at what they had to tell him about their products, the innovation, their business models and the breakthroughs they had made. This is what I mean when I say that our teams change perceptions each time they participate.
The Toffee TV duo of Rabia and Talea won the judges’ hearts not only with their work but also with the “wrapping” that was a part of their presentation. The judge from Indonesia wanted to know why they weren’t thinking of turning their content into Bahasa – and that if they ever looked at doing it, they should connect with him. He was so thrilled with toffeetv.com that he insisted on having a picture taken with them when the judging session was over. Rabia has so enjoyed the entire experience of preparing for APICTA in the last few weeks that following her presentation she was totally overwhelmed. She came and hugged us and thanked us for “allowing her” to be a part of the process. “It has taught us so much and we have come so far along the roadmap that we had been thinking of embarking on but would never have dreamed of moving along as fast as we have done,” she said. It is statements like these that make everything we do so worthwhile.
Judges and mentors like Jawwad Ahmed Farid, Zafar Khan, Nadeem Aslam Malik, Badar Khushnood, Sultan Hamdani and Zia Imran have played such a vital role in the development of the teams over the years. They are the P@SHA mentors – they are the ones who throw so much passion and dedication into the exercise and make us a team to watch out for.
This year we brought 19 products to APICTA to compete with a total of 162 products from the region. In very competitive categories like New Media & Entertainment and E-Learning, we made our presence felt. The Head Judge in the New Media & Entertainment Category – Kelly Hutchinson from Australia – said to me yesterday that she was absolutely blown away by our teams and she was thoroughly impressed with the professionalism and talent of fellow-judge Zafar Khan. That was so wonderful to hear.
Salman ul Haq of Tunacode was brilliant and on such a high when we walked out of the R&D category. The judges in his category were impressed at the calibre of his research and with his depth of knowledge. He said to me “It does not really matter if I win or not. I have knocked their socks off with my research, and I have learnt so much in the process.” That is the spirit young man. We could do with many more like you.
Syed Saad Hussain of Five Rivers Technologies showed off the Photo Editor application that has been the top application in all categories, across all geographies on the Blackberry App store. It is like having a mini Photoshop app on your mobile. The judges actually took pictures, applied filters and manipulated the images with glee. If it hadn’t been for the Augmented Reality solutions that the Hong Kong teams came up with, he had a sure shot at one of the top slots in his category. He did us proud with his impeccable presentation, with the faultless demos and with the confidence that he exuded. Well done Saad!
What can one say about the team from CARE? They are professionals with a depth of knowledge that they have accumulated over the years. Having them with us at APICTA has added a new dimension to our entries. Having them as part of our industry has added a new maturity.
I could go on and on but it’s time to get ready for the Awards Dinner event. More later!