DR ISHRAT HUSAIN THE MAN WHO TURNED IBA AROUND

IBA has always been the top business school in Pakistan, but got pushed to the back of the pack due to lack of infrastructure and administrative red tape. That was until Dr Ishrat Husain took its reins. We find out how he went about the herculean task.

he primary problem was that not even a single classroom, laboratory or hostel room was constructed since 1965, a time  when US Aid left the country. The enrollment at that point escalated from two hundred students to two thousand students. Even the faculty members did not have a lab where they could sit and research, or prepare their lessons or even engage with students during the office hours. Provision of these facilities is the major pillar of an academic institution. I was aware that I could not attract top-notch faculty members to IBA until I provide them with the physical infrastructure and facilities so that they can feel comfortable. EvenI think no country in the world can make progress unless and until they pay attention to the higher education because this helps in producing leaders for every particular field in the country the students were living in very bad conditions and the laboratories were outdated, classrooms were not of the way that you could bring in the modern delivery mechanisms of methodological tools. For instance  there were was no IT in the whole campus.

In the present times, you need different technological innovations and hence my strategy had four aspects or dimensions; firstly I wanted to invest in the physical infrastructure so that we could overcome the difficulties but also plan developments that could satisfy the future needs. Hence I worked and secured 5 billion rupees for the private sector and completed 30 projects of academic block, offices and these initiatives were just not to satisfy the present needs but also the future needs. The building has been constructed on modern lines and hence you can accommodate new students easily. Also, we have 130 offices for 100 teachers in order to accommodate any new hiring’s. The second aspect of my strategy was faculty development and we started hiring Ph. D. Faculty members, as we had only a few PHD’S back then. At the present time, you cannot just hire MBA’S to teach your students as they are much smarter than the teacher these days. You need to bring teachers who have made some name or contributions and hence we started hiring faculty members with PHD’S and today with the grace of Almighty we have 64 Ph.D.’s and almost 20 among  them are enrolled under the Ph.D. split programmes for women teachers or they are doing their study abroad and the time when they come back at least 85 percent of them will be holding Ph.D. degrees and that is the hallmark of a global institution. The third aspect was a technological up gradation. We wanted to have enterprise resource planning and campus planning solutions. Now teachers give assignments to students electronically, the registrations are done electronically and the tests are also completed and submitted electronically. The fourth aspect was to bring new programs because Karachi needed education in the field of Social sciences, Accounting, Finance, Mathematics and Economics, as they were lacking.

IBA was just a business school with some Computer Science faculty members. There was a need for new disciplines and hence our graduate and undergraduate program in the fields of Social science, Accounting, Finance and Mathematics were introduced and today we have 4000 students in these departments. These were the four strategic objectives that I achieved by the grace of Allah Almighty in five years’ time frame. I later decided that it is now the right time to let others come because an institution should not depend on one individual and that is why I decided to retire.You said IBA had no faculty up- gradation mechanisms since the 1960s. Why do you think that happened? Do you think it was because of the administrative structure?I don’t want to second-guess their (past administrators) performance and would like to salute the efforts of the previous administration. When I joined IBA I found solutions to the problems instead of cracking out what happened in the past. I was looking only at the period where I had the opportunity to place things rightly. So I don’t care about the problems they were facing and what their considerations were back then.In the past, obsolete administrative mechanisms were in place that often disregarded students. Do you find it to be the case now?

M Azam Mahmood Butt has an MBA from IBA and is the editor for Academia Magazine. He has previously been part of the English language news media industry, and also worked in the retail and real estate sectors. He can be reached at editor@academiamag.com.

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