Qaiser Abbas is a very well known, an organizational psychologist, best-selling author, motivational speaker, high-energy trainer and successful entrepreneur. He is the founder and Chief Inspiring Officer of Possibilities® leading Management Training & Consulting Company, operating internationally with the head office in Pakistan. Qaiser is the Author of the best selling book ‘Tick Tick Dollar’ and various other books such as Shabash! Tum Kar Saktay Hou and Outclass Teams. Speaking with IBEX, he tells his story that how he started his career from scratch.
Quaid-e-Azam once said that Pakistan stands for struggle of human ideals and the survival in the face of great odds. The story of Qaiser Abbas is also a story of great struggle which refused to give up despite all hardships faced.
Qaiser Abbas, the son of a laborer, was born into a family of eight siblings. He lost his mother at an early age. Lliving in a family saddled by poverty struggling to eat one solid meal a day, an older brother who succumbed to drug abuse and ill health were unfortunate events which fate brought his way. With every difficulty come ease and the ease which Qaiser Abbas as a child was blessed was the vision that his hard working father had for him. The irrepressible perseverance and strength he had inherited from his father and the immense love for his family served as his burning motivation to achieve something in life.
For a child who wore hand me downs, struggled with self esteem issues and lacked the basic confidence of a sportsman, Qaiser Abbas still managed to get a gold medal in both matric and intermediate. He started working right after matriculation as a salesman for Pakistan Tobacco company, the list of blue collar jobs under tough working conditions were only just the beginning.
While persisting hunger and homelessness stalked him without mercy, he managed to get into Punjab University for a masters degree. During this period, his father passed away. After graduation, he was hired as a visiting faculty member with a salary of Rs. 1800. The road of trials and tribulations was far from over. His rejection from the Civil Services and the Air force was only the start. No organization was willing to allow him to prove his consulting mettle even without a fee. With immense pressure from his family he returned to his native town and after finally topping in the civil services exam became a lecturer at Govt. College Lahore.
The story does not end here. Becoming a lecturer was not his calling and gave that up to move back to Lahore and focus on his entrepreneurial skills. With no money in his pocket and no place to live he was faced with a chain of refusals for the second time around. Exhausted he gave the business of corporate consultation one last attempt, inviting his clients to Mc.Donalds as he could not afford a decent place to hold a meeting. Given the oddity of the situation, the business finally started taking off and yet it was another 2 years before Qaiser Abbas could actually afford to have a meal at the resturant where he met his clients.
His company is now one of the leading Management Training and Consulting Organizations of Pakistan which has expanded internationally as well. For a man who was refused from civil services and military many times, his training curriculum is now a permanent part of both the Civil Services Academy and the Pakistan Army. His client list includes companies like Coca Cola, Nestle, PnG, Hinopak, ORIX, Reckitt Benckiser etc.
Challenging people to discover their purpose of life and then facilitating them to accomplish it – This is Qaiser’s own life’s purpose. This is his focus and he treats this mission both as his profession and his passion. To him, purpose is not about getting, it is about giving. His believe is when you focus on giving, God liberates you from the pursuit of getting. This is why his company title is Chief Inspiring Officer instead of Chief Executive Officier. In an exclusive chat with IBEX, Qaiser Abbas shared a few thoughts on the business arena of Pakistan.
In your opinion, what is the current situation of the Corporate Sector of Pakistan?
I believe there is ample potential in the corporate sector. The important thing to realize for the top management however is that in times of recession keeping a motivated and empowered workforce is of crucial importance. Organizations with stagnant and bureaucratic cultures are not necessarily properly equipped to absorb the shocks of a bad economy. Every organization has to face difficulties, but it is the right and flexible mindset which gets you through most of them.
What is your view on the business ethics practiced in Pakistan?
The Pakistani business ethics has a number of unfortunate loopholes. This gives bureaucratic organizations ethical issues because basically the person at the top decides how the organization is run, rather than following a standardized set of rules. Pakistani organizations like Engro have reached such recognition and heights only because of their adherence to rules and regulations.
In small enterprises, the top management is unwilling to empower their teams and give responsibility to their teams. This hinders both initiative taking skills of the employees as well as their creativity. Pakistan greatly suffers from this issue.
What is the potential in domestic markets?
Our domestic market has a lot of potential however; we need to shift our focus to building teams instead of hiring teams. This responsibility lies totally with the senior management.
How important is brand awareness in the business sector these days?
Brand awareness is the promise delivered by the company as a whole and not just the senior management. There are many professional companies working in Pakistan but due to lack of proper branding both internally and externally, these companies are unable to give multinationals a crushing competition. In order to develop a brand we need to have a team where input of every member is valued. The first response in Pakistan when pitching a new idea is that it is difficult or not possible. Our people need to break free from self limits which they have imposed on themselves.
What issues are being faced by local companies?
The basic issue faced by many domestic companies is that of culture. Culture has a trickledown effect and senior management needs to realize that rather than working within a fixed system they need to work on the system. I cannot stress the importance of an empowered workforce enough. Enabling a good flow of communication and encouragement of ideas will allow companies to explore profitable avenues.
What is your advice to young entrepreneurs?
Deciding to become an entrepreneur means inviting resistance from society, your family and friends etc. You will become a magnet to a number of different problems and issues but the most important thing to remember is perseverance. If you have decided to become an entrepreneur, you should also plan ahead. Frequently, keep revisiting and reviewing your plan. You also need to be open minded and flexible enough to adapt to change and absorb the shocks which the market will throw at you usually when you start a new venture. You will need courage to deal with difficult situations and courage only comes from hard work and a never wavering will power.