With the departure of Dr Hasan Sohaib Murad for the hereafter, I lost a mentor, a guide and a trail blazer who exemplified what does it mean to be an inspirational leader. Inna lillah e wa inna ilaihi rajioon. A loss that seems more acute because I could have learned much more from him than what I did. Here I relate my observations about his achievements as a great collaborative leader, an inspiration for all those who met him, and my learning from him.
I remember meeting him a few times at NED after I joined as a freshman in April of 1980. Then shortly afterwards (in December of 1980), I transferred from NED to join the Electronic program of Dawood Engineering College (now DUET). I did briefly meet him for a few more times, but then lost contact with him. It would be several years later when I was doing my PhD in USA and was visiting New Jersey in July of 1991 and was staying with Mr Farrukh Raza (who had been my class fellow at Dawood College) that I heard of him again. Farrukh told me that Mr Hasan Sohaib Murad had started an institute by the name of ILM in Lahore a year earlier and the Institute seems to have a lot of promise. I would also hear about the institute from others who hailed from Lahore during my stay in USA. They would tell me to go and check it out after my return!
From ILM to UMT: Self Sustainable Model for Startup and Organic Growth of Universities
ILM had the distinction of being among the handful of first few private higher education institutions established in Pakistan. Among the earliest in private sector were the big three established in 1984; LUMS in Lahore, FAST ICS and AKU in Karachi. Then in 1986-87 came Hamdard University in Karachi. The commonality among all the private universities that preceded ILM was that they were sponsored and backed by huge titans, renowned nationally in their respective fields, and even acclaimed internationally; Syed Babar Ali was already a prominent and leading businessman and was the chairman of a large group of companies when he established LUMS; Agha Hasan Abidi of BCCI fame was among the most prominent and legendary banker of Pakistan and acclaimed internationally when he established FAST-ICS; and Hakim Saeed with his mega Hamdard foundation was a big name in health-related businesses, acclaimed as hakeem, and internationally renowned for love of education and books when he established Hamdard University. International and national prominence of AKU’s Aga Khan needs no introduction.
Interestingly enough each one of these institutions with the exception of AKU started from bungalows, In contrast to these institutions that had tons of money backing them from influential sources, ILM started from meager resources and developed primarily from its own self-generated cash flows although there was a sympathetic network that was aligned with his cause. However, there was no sponsorship or huge aid from any big business group or group of companies. This self sustainable growth model for universities would be soon copied by the majority of the private institutions that would soon follow the lead. I can safely say that at least 80% of the private universities established till the mid of 2000s followed this model. Dr Hasan Sohaib Murad recognized the opportunity in private sector and was not daunted by the likes of the big businessmen who were “early movers” in the private universities space. He developed a low cost start-up and self-sustainable model that testifies to his long term vision, innovation and leadership.
On my return from USA in early 1995, I went to visit several universities up country. I went to GIKI in Topi, and then in Lahore I went to LUMS. Both had sprawling huge campuses. I also paid a visit to ILM and to meet Dr Murad. At that time ILM was in a bungalow on Canal Road. I remember HSM giving me a tour and also taking me to ILM library where he proudly showed me the abstracting work they were doing by meticulously reading and abstracting stories from various newspapers and magazines published in Pakistan. (I think this would be a valuable archive for any researcher today, need to check it out). I told him about the objective of my return from USA which was to be with my aged and ailing father and mother. He appreciated and prayed for me to remain steadfast and be a support to may parents despite the numerous challenges that I would be facing in Pakistan. Soon afterwards I joined my alma mater IBA in Karachi to be with my parents, who did not want to move from their home in Karachi.
Around late 1990s, I remember director of IBA Dr A Wahab telling me that GIKI and LUMS both had obtained generous grants from USAID. [I recall him mentioning a figure of $5 million which he said was originally destined for IBA Karachi. Need to reconfirm the figure?] Also note that IBA was established and run by the grants of USAID from 1955 till the late 1960s. The support from DFI’s and other grants in the establishment of higher education institutions had made the life much easier for many of the supported universities. Institutions like ILM that did not have the luxury of such hefty foreign grants or local financial backers and had to learn to use the cash flows from fees for infrastructure development as well as organically growing the services for students, industry and society.
A few years later when I visited ILM, I found that ILM had acquired another bungalow adjacent to the first one. And the two bunglows were brimming with students. He proudly told me about the range of new programs that he had started. Later we would meet several times at conferences during my visits to Lahore and Islamabad. I think it must be 2003-4 and I was attending a conference in PC Lahore when Dr Murad asked me to accompany him to see his upcoming campus. He was so proud to mention that he had acquired around 200 Kanals in Johar Town at a reasonable cost. The land prices had not jacked up till that time in Johar Town. Couple of buildings had been constructed, another was coming up, and the plan was to shift there in a few months. Today the entire campus area is filled with a huge complex of buildings that support a large student population. The number of students, programs, research centers, departments, and initiatives are growing at a pace that are yearning for the next level of growth. UMT will sadly miss HSM’s experience, leadership and guidance in managing this imperative for growth.
The growth of private institutions through self-generated resources is a model that has now become impossible given the erection of entry barriers by HEC since the mid 2000s. It is no longer possible for the likes of ILM, KIET, IoBM and scores of other institutions like these to start from rented bungalows anymore and in a few years become sprawling campuses through their self-generated cash-flows and besides that also providing admirable quality. Mind you, private universities are providing education to at least 5 lac students currently without any burden on poor taxpayers. It is interesting to actually compare the cost of private universities with that of government universities and their relative costs as can be seen in my other post on Myth and Fiction of Government Universities Costing Less than Private Universities. A concomitant theme that needs busting is the Myth and Fiction of Mushrooming of Universities in Pakistan.
Purpose of Life and Endeavors
During a trip to Lahore in 2008 with my nephews, I went to meet Dr Hasan Sohaib Murad at UMT. He presented this book ” قران کا راستہ” written by his father Khurram Jah Murad to my nephew Waheed Hyder and another signed one to my other nephew SM Omar. The inscription on this signed copy to my nephew Waheed says, “To be what Quran wants us to be is the goal of life”. This invaluable gift is also a representative of his life’s journey. What an inspirational life of an exemplary leader: Great son of a great father. May Allah enable us to follow the path of Quran that he followed throughout his life like his father. May Allah reward him and his father with the best of abodes in the hereafter. Aameen.
Collaborative Leadership: From Independence to Interdependence of Universities
Once during my meeting with Dr Murad I voiced my concerns about the encroachment of HEC’s policies in to the affairs of universities and in the academics, and how this space is increasingly being constricted. He listened and advised me to work on increasing the collaboration among the universities. Later when he became Chairman of NBEAC and my interaction with him increased because of my involvement in several activities. I learned that his strategy was an institutional embodiment of Stephen Covey’s 7-Habits framework. The framework suggests that the first three habits can help an HEI to move from a state of “Dependence” to “Independence”. However, the next three habits can enable the HEI to move from its state of “Independence” to “Interdependence”. As Chairman of NBEAC, he established several platforms where the business schools of the universities can come together and foster inter-dependence relationships. Where universities will be engaged in win-win situations and synergies for growth and support of capacity for each other. His ability to gather the best of minds from business schools of universities in Pakistan and to enable their win-win interactions is a testimony to his leadership qualities.
The NBEAC approach is much different from the approach of say PEC or other accreditation bodies that work more with an SHO mentality to humiliate the education service providers. In contrast the NBEAC approach had been to facilitate the universities through training, workshops, peer visits, counselors and coaches in strengthening their capacity. Even the accreditation criteria is less of a lightening rod with which to punish the universities for non-compliance but more of self-improvement criteria. The universities can look at the criteria and move from a lower level to a higher level through their positive initiatives. During IoBM’s first accreditation Dr Zahoor of LUMS was the convener and during the subsequent Dr Shaukat Brah was the convener. Although both the conveners are highly exacting, but in both of these interactions, IoBM gained a great deal from the positive and strengthening suggestions. This is in stark contrast with typical PEC interactions where one is made to think as if one has gone to the police station and is in front of an SHO.
The series of National Deans and Directors Conference of Business Schools organized now regularly for the last several years by NBEAC is another of the initiative that has led to a qualitative change in the capacity of the universities and in gaining from each other experiences. The topics and emphasis in each of these conferences provide an interesting method for developing the capacity in contrast to the regulatory mechanism employed by HEC. I think HEC’s framework is outdated, centralized and requires establishment on the peer-to-peer interdependence networks for enhancing quality and standards rather than a one-size-fit-all standards being dictated from the top and not relevant to our social and economic realities.
Another of his unique experiments was a collaborative platform for organizing the series of conferences called ICoBM. The first three were organized by UMT, then the fourth one was organized by IBA Sukkur, the 5th one was organized by IoBM of which I was the Conference Director, and the 6th one was organized by NUST. The idea was to develop a consortium of conferences that would jointly collaborate in organizing the conference and would rotate around the country in various provinces and cities in collaborating institutions. The research students would travel to other universities to learn and gain from these interactions. This was a successful format and must continues.
Another interesting collaborative effort was the establishment of AMDIP (Association of Manageme Development in Pakistan) as a country chapter of AMDISA (Association of Management Development in South Asia). I was privileged to be with him in AMDISA conference in Maldives in 2017. Currently headed by Dr Shahid Amjad Chaudhry, it has also enabled the universities to gain a lot from interactions from the peers in other countries and withing the country.
I last met with Mr Hasan Sohaib Murad some months ago in his office at UMT. Little did I know that this would be my last meeting. He was as usual his motivating self. I now think that I did not benefit from him the way I could have learned from him. I should have made my children come and meet him while he was around in the city. I would encourage those who knew him more than me to come forward and provide the guidance for leadership and inspiration for us.
Comments of Prof Dr Javaid Laghari, ex Chairman HEC [from FB]:
Unfortunately those who serve selflessly are not recognized nationally. I had met Hasan sahib quite a few times, and found him as a learned, exemplary down to earth individual. May Allah rest his soul in peace.
Comments of Prof Dr Shaukat A Brah, Ex Dean LUMS, Ex Rector KSBL
Professor Hasan Murad was a great friend and an honorable colleague. He tirelessly served the cause of higher education in Pakistan. In particular, his contribution in building up UMT to the level of high distinction is highly commendable. Moreover, his contribution to the NBEAC shall be remembered for a long time by the business school fraternity. God bless his soul – Ameen.
Recollections of Prof Dr Manzoor Khalidi about his father and stay in Dacca [from FB]:
I first met Dr Hasan at NED; we were both in the Civil Engineering Department, but he was a year senior to me. I met him again a few decades later at IBA Karachi when we were selected for training to be part of the group of Peer Reviewers for AMDISA. That was when I came to know that he was the son of Khurram Murad who was also a friend of my father as they both shared the same mentor: Khaja Azimuddin who conceived and built most of the major Dams in Pakistan. Khurram Murad was an Engineer at ACE Office in Dhaka. We were in Chittigong, but whenever my father would go to Dhaka he would visit his mentor, and usually return with some books written by Khurram Murad. These were generally books on ethics written for children, which we read as children.
The last time that I met Dr. Hassan was at the NBEAC conference held in Karachi a few months ago, unfortunately that will remain the last memories of him.
Dr Murad’s Profile
Dr Murad was the founding President of ILM Trust and the Rector/President of the University of Management and Technology (UMT). He received bachelor degree in Civil Engineering from NED University of Engineering and Technology, Karachi and an MBA from Washington State University, USA. He earned his doctorate in Management from the University of Wales, United Kingdom. He is also Chairperson of a nationwide network of colleges and schools consisting of about 200 institutions. The leading brands of ILM Colleges and the Knowledge Schools are serving the middle class by providing them high quality education. He is also founding Chairman of the Institute of Knowledge and Leadership (IKL), Dubai which offers executive development programs in MENASA region.
May 2017: President, University of Management and Technology, Lahore
2004-2017: Rector, University of Management and Technology
Chairman, NBEAC National Business Evaluation and Accreditation Council
Director General, Institute of Leadership and Management
Chairman ILM Colleges Network
Chairman, The Knowledge Schools Network (TKS)
Chairman, ILM Universia
Patron, Law and Policy Review
Chairman, Association for Acacdemic Quality (AFAQ)
Chairman, IBL Modaraba Pvt Ltd
Chief Sponsor, Khoja Capital Ltd
Chairman, IWAYS Pvt Ltd
Director, Tricast Media, Lahore
Chairman, Mizab Engg Ltd
Chairman, Hill View Pvt Ltd
Chairman, HSM Corporation Pvt Ltd
Chairman, Tayeb Business Network Pvt Ltd
Member, Board of Governors, Institute of Policy Studies, Islamabad
Member, Board of Governors, Univerisity of Venteniray and Animal Sciences, Lahore
Member, Board of Governors, Islamic Research Institute, Islamabad
Member, Board of Governors, International Business Forum, Istanbul, Turkey