Manager Today – “100 Business leaders of Pakistan”

Manager Today – “100 Business leaders of Pakistan”

Manager Today has published its second book titled “ 100 Business leaders of Pakistan “ and focuses on three categories of leaders ; the first being Business leaders, entrepreneurs, Presidents, CEO’s and MD’s. The second category consists of women of substance who have contributed to education, economy, business and other fields. The third category consists of those who have tried to transform the nation. The exclusive interview and indigenous success stories serve as an inspiration to young minds who are the future business leaders by creating hope and faith in the country. The following interview of Mr. Ahmed Kapadia was published in this book as part of the first category mentioned above.

Pakistan’s Economy, Business & Finance:


1) We are passing through very testing times with much of political instability and law & order situation going on, what steps should be taken to turn around/stabilize Pakistan economically as well as administratively?

We need to focus on our basics such as making our institutions stronger. There is a need for a stronger infrastructure and a system where there is accountability with responsibility. All these things will be possible if effective leadership is in place. An effective leadership is owning any task that you take on. It gives focus, creates proper systems and procedures that others can follow. The same principle can be applied on a national level and even globally. Well, that’s my formula.

2) With the country sliding back into economic recession and creating extreme joblessness, how can we create job providers/entrepreneurs rather than job seekers?

We have had a history of being colonized and somehow our mindset has remained that way. People have an employee mentality that needs to be overcome. We don’t seem to know how to behave like entrepreneurs. In order to overcome this we need to create a system where people understand the meaning of responsibility. In order to do so, we need to create some sort of a body that imparts training & development in this area .There is a need to create aSchoolofEntrepreneurshipdedicated to developing entrepreneurs at the national, provincial and district levels and also taught as a specific subject in schools. At the college level, those who are already established in this area need to teach and impart their experiences and provide guidelines to those who would like to follow.

One can also focus on vocational training and have a fund that provides venture capital to those who would like to set up their own businesses.

3) We are not poor in resources but in effective managers, could effective managers and corporate governance help us deal with this dilemma?

There will be effective managers if there is effective leadership. In my opinionPakistanhas a pool of extremely talented individuals. Despite having no infrastructure, we have created the best cricket players, squash and hockey champions. However systems, procedures guidelines and merit have to be the criterion. You cannot base your systems on nepotism as this will create disillusionment and your talented resources will be driven away. We need to have an effective leadership that can distribute resources.

HR, Education and Development:


4) With the commercialization of educational institutes, are you happy with the quality of business graduates being produced, especially with reference to the business education?

I am totally against commercialization. The basic criterion for any business is that you must have a certain amount of passion for it. If for example you are in education, the sole criterion should not be making money but a desire to impart knowledge with excellence. Today, there are too many MBA’s – there needs to be a focus on specialists in specific areas such as media, advertising etc.

5) What is leadership to you? Are leaders born or made?

Leaders are not necessarily born – leadership can be learnt and acquired like anything in life. But to learn it you first have to realize your own weaknesses as a person. Once you have done so, the right attitude will lead you to eliminate your own weaknesses and give you the impetus to focus on your strengths. A leader is a person who can give direction, lead by example, and who has the courage to admit his own follies and overcome them. He is usually a risk taker who exudes an energy that motivates and drives other people to perform better and is able to identify talent and bring that to fruition.

6) What are the challenges for the business leaders in Pakistan? Differentiate between a good manager and a good leader.

The biggest challenge is that there is no level playing field.

If you belong to a certain segment of society, you will be able to move ahead. There is a world of difference between a good manager and a good leader. A good manager is good at carrying out tasks assigned to him and in supervising those tasks. A leader will spell out the higher goals and the vision and provide the initial direction.

7) What are the core competencies of leadership that you want to see in our new managers & business leaders?

The most important thing is to accept your strengths and weaknesses and develop a can- do attitude. It encompasses responsibility, perseverance, with a focus on good work ethics, initiative, positive thinking, pro activeness and a planned vision. Importance also needs to be placed on time management. A business leader has to be genuine and honest and must have a high sense of integrity. If you make a mistake admit it. People gauge you and if they feel you are honest and genuine they will want to follow you.

8) We are faced with a dilemma in professional ethics, how can we inculcate a sense of ethics in our managers?

One should lead by example. It is important to display professional ethics to those who work for you and come within your circle of influence. You may not be able to have a direct influence on the people outside your environment, but when you inculcate those values in your own organization, it will make an impression on those who have worked with you and they will later inculcate those work ethics in their professional lives too.

About The Company and Its Future Plan:


9) What is your vision, mission, core values and shared behaviors that define your corporate culture? How do you make sure that people live, act and breathe your organization’s core values?

The core values of Synergy form the foundation on which we perform work and conduct ourselves. These underlie our work, how we interact with each other and are the basis of our strategies to fulfill our mission. We believe in strong internal communication to impart these to those who work for us. We have a unique system which is a leadership empowerment committee in which the employees themselves take ownership and responsibility of different areas in the office and in doing so also learn the core values on which our organization is based. Values that we cherish include client- centrism, Integrity, equality and fairness, empowerment, responsibility and synergy itself which is collaboration and teamwork at every level.

10) Please share your key business strategies or business model that has led you to this current stature?

Our business strategy is client focused with a solution oriented approach. Our business philosophy revolves around meeting the client’s requirements. We are in the communications business so we need to provide solutions for our clients through communication. We started off as an advertising agency but now have six business units specializing in different areas of communication, so that clients are provided with a complete package to satisfy their needs.

11) Do you have the high performance team with the right skill-set, mindset and value-set to lead the business growth?

We have six business units and each of them is decentralized with their own team comprising of specialists with expertise specific to the particular unit. I don’t run all of them so that proves that they are independent, high performing and competent.

12) What are the challenges and opportunities in your industry/sector?

The general perception in this sector is that a local agency must have a foreign affiliation to prove its competence. This is a fallacy as we can deliver quality work without these credentials. It is unfortunate that people only go on perception or the image of someone they see which then becomes a veil to being able to judge the competence and ability behind it. It is ironic that advertising is a science that creates perception and you can’t create perceptions without knowing reality.

Another point that needs attention is that this industry does not have a platform to protect the interests of its members and provide solutions for their problems. The opportunities will rise as a result in the form of solutions to these challenges.

13) What are the HR challenges and strategies regarding employee retention, motivation, engagement and performance appraisals at your company?

Pakistani’s are highly talented individuals; however they are not all that astute when it comes to working in teams. The biggest challenge is to make them gel together and understand interdependence, which is a key to creating Synergy. Employee retention and motivation require commitment towards high performers, which are vital for the growth of the organization. We have developed internal systems that are indigenous to Synergy through which we reward and appraise our top performers.

14) Is training, coaching and mentoring a high priority for you, how much time/resources do you devote to this?

Yes it is of very high priority and a part of the culture of our organization. Each and every department is given training on a regular basis and a great deal of in house training is done frequently.

15) Can you share your contribution towards CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility)?

I believe strongly in giving back to the society as I have seen that being done throughout my life by my grandfather first and then my father. It comes from the belief that you should do whatever you can for society rather than wait for it to happen. It is with the hope of making a purposeful life that the Latif Kapadia Memorial Welfare Trust was set up. It is a non-business organization purely established for the welfare of deprived and underprivileged families to provide them the best but inexpensive health and educational facilities within the community.

The first Medi health clinic, an exclusive health project providing convenient and reliable OPD health services was set up in Shah Faisal colony and the second one has recently been set up in Khokrapar – Malir.

16) What steps should be taken to empower women professionally? Does your company have any harassment policy?

We believe in providing equal opportunities. People are placed in positions on the basis of their competence and not their gender. Harassment is not tolerated at any level and the employee will definitely lose his job if he is making the workplace uncomfortable for females to work in. It is because of this that our organization is known for having an environment where women are respected.

17) Being the head of your organization, what are your strategies regarding succession planning and developing next generation of leaders?

We focus on structured training and development and have made our business units independent so that they can be run by a competent team with the values and philosophy of our organization.

18) Please share your best management practices for others to follow as benchmark?

We have set up a number of indigenous and unique systems in our organization that has helped in the overall performance of our employees. For e.g. we have developed a software called the “ticketing system” which is a tool to reward and motivate anyone who has done exceptional work that may be related to his/ her field or even outside of their sphere of work. This can be given by a junior to a senior and vice versa. Negative tickets can also be issued in the same manner. The ticket is associated with a monetary sum that is given as a bonus for a positive ticket and a deduction for a negative one.

In addition we have also set up a committee called the Leadership Empowerment Committee ( LEC) that makes employees responsible for certain areas of the office that may not be related to their core jobs. For e.g. a person in client services will be looking after the ambiance in the office and be responsible for it. Employees develop a sense of ownership and also have a platform to show certain qualities that they possess which are not directly related to their work. In this committee all employees are at an equal level and responsibility is not dependant on hierarchy.

In addition we emphasize on physical health and greatly stress on exercise and on well being. Keeping this in mind there is an in house gym and a cafeteria that serves healthy food.

Grooming and appearance are also given a great deal of importance.

Do you have any plans of expansion? Where do you see your organization five years down the road? Does your company envision to be Pakistani multinational

We have always been receptive to expansion; this is why in a short span of 12 years we have evolved in to a group of companies. Synergy Group is the fastest growing communications group inPakistan, which is mainly based on this philosophy. We are also exploring opportunities in other countries and are hopeful that in the near future we will Inshallah make a breakthrough in the international arena.

Professional Life


19) Please share with us your professional background as to how it all started?

I started with MNJ communications in Client Service and then teamed up with a colleague to open an advertising agency in a garage at home. Advertising is a passionate business and I have been fortunate to have a go getter attitude, due to which Allah has graced me with success

20) How would you define your leadership and management style?

I am result oriented and it helps when one is aggressive towards work and business. However, despite my aggressive demeanour, I am caring towards my team and respect talent. There are many examples at Synergy where I have encouraged individuals to pursue their dreams and explore new avenues of business and opportunities.

21) What has been the toughest decision that you had to take so far?

When I set up my own office in 1999 with almost nothing. It was a huge risk, as I decided to leave a cushy job for a completely unknown future. However, it has perhaps been the best decision of my life, as it allowed me develop an organization that is world class and is seen as a benchmark for how a professionally run communications business should be.

22) Define success in three key words or phrases.

Success is attitude, attitude, attitude.

23) What is your idea of happiness?

Internal satisfaction is the key to happiness. It is not easy to achieve; as there are many sacrifices that one has to be ready for. However, once you manage to benchmark yourself with high standards set by you, it is a great feeling.

24) From where do you get your inspiration, personally as well as professionally?

From any story of a person fighting adversity and has been able to fight against the odds. This person can be a fictitious character from a movie, a novel or even real life. A person who can come through a struggle inspires me.

25) What is you favorite book on personal & professional development that you would recommend others to read?

Personal favourite would be The Bourne Identity – Robert Ludlum . Professionally there are many books on management,

26) What do you consider to be your greatest achievement or failure?

Greatest achievement is being able to understand the value of how to create synergy. There is a long list of failures.

27) How do you manage workplace / business stress?

Going to the gym, playing cricket and spending time with my family.

28) How do you keep your work-life balance?

Honestly, there is no work – life balance.

29) Any message of hope to the young generation of managers, entrepreneurs and business leaders.

Never ever give up. It is important to realize and accept your weaknesses and shortcomings and then create or find strategies to cover or eliminate those. Thereafter, concentrate on strengths so that your weaknesses are minimized.

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Marketing Association of Pakistan, Lahore Chapter – Newsletter

Marketing Association of Pakistan, Lahore Chapter – Newsletter


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Interview by Yasir Zaheer & Shermi Herath

Interview by Yasir Zaheer & Shermi Herath

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“Power of One” must for re-branding Pakistan

“Power of One” must for re-branding Pakistan

CCD has launched Sui Southern Interactive Forum (SSIF) to provide its management and employees an opportunity for debate and discussion with experts from different walks of life. The launching ceremony was held at the Company premises on March 4, 2009.

The main item on the agenda was an interactive talk show entitled ‘Let’s re-brand Pakistan’ moderated by the veteran marketer Mr. Mahmood Nanji and a TV talk show

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The participants were Mr. Ahmed Kapadia (Managing Director, Synergy Advertising), Ms. Adeeba Khan (Chief Creative Officer, Manhattan Communications), Mr. Imran Ahmad (CEO, Pace Pvt. Ltd) and Mr. Numan Nabi, CEO, The Brand Partnership.

They emphasized on addressing misperceptions about Pakistan by projecting those aspects of Pakistani culture and life that do not make it into mainstream Western media. The focus, they pointed out, must be on projecting Pakistan’s brilliance and beauty and sprucing up Pakistan’s image across the world.

Kapadia was of the view that the presence of strong and sincere leadership is untenable to brand Pakistan. He cited the example of City Nazim, Mustafa Kamal who has re-defined Karachi’s map through relentless commitment and leadership. Linking the process of re-branding Pakistan to form-content formula, he reiterated that unless we do not improve the form, we cannot develop the winning content.

Mr. Numan Nabi said that re-branding involves first changing the perception of people inside and outside the country. He said that as Pakistanis, we must first understand what our country stands for before we can channelize our energies towards carving out a new image of Pakistan. He stressed that commitment for the task at hand must come from every individual or what he termed as ‘the power of one’. In this regard, he quoted Shehzad Roy’s words ‘Goodness is Contagious’.

In her remarks, Ms. Adeeba Khan said that Pakistan has amazing talent and rich resources yet they have not been properly utilized due to indifferent socio-economic and political situation. She said that when her agency started its ‘Ye Hum Nahi’ campaign aimed at projecting Pakistan as a land of peaceful people, the most signatures it got was from the Northern Areas,

Syed Imran Ahmad was of the view that media must play a defining role in projecting Pakistan’s positive image to the rest of the world, while removing negative perceptions that exist in our minds.

While the participants expressed diverse views, there was a general unanimity that for taking on the task of re-branding Pakistan, the main crux of the problem has to be identified, objectives need to be defined, an unfaltering commitment must be shown and a right kind of leadership must be provided from all quarters. In addition, we must remove negative perceptions from our minds for creating a positive image of Pakistan.

Before the discussion began, Mr. Ahmad gave a comprehensive presentation entitled ‘Bombs to Branding – Image Building in Crisis’ that served as a preamble for the discussion that followed.

The audience that included intellectuals and business professionals proactively participated at the Q&A session.

Earlier, Ms. Nasreen Hussain said that the idea behind SSIF was based on a simple premise that while harping on problems is easy, finding solutions is always the hardest part.

Rahat Kamal Siddiqui, SGM (Engineering Services) while presenting his vote of thanks appreciated the participants for their honest views.

At the conclusion, Mr. Zuhair Siddiqui, SGM (Management Services), Mr. Qamaruddin Kazi, SGM (Transmission) SGM (Engineering Services) and Dr. Abdul Wahab, Dean, Mohammad Ali Jinnah University, presented mementos to the participants and the moderator Mr. Mahmood Nanji.

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Blue Chip Features AK

Blue Chip Features AK

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The BUZZ Recorder “Interview with Ahmed Kapadia

Let’s start with a brief background about Synergy Advertising.
Synergy Advertising was established in May 1999 and by the Grace of Allah, in a very short span of time we have made a name for ourselves as a centre of excellence in brand communication. Synergy is currently Pakistan’s fastest growing integrated media communications group as it has expanded its horizon of services that straddle the complete spectrum of client needs ranging from traditional advertising, event management & BTL, media planning and buying, PR, productions, publications & website development and marketing, strategic communications, brand consultancy, media marketing & research etc.

What inspired you to take up advertising as a career?
It was a twist of fate actually that brought me into the advertising industry. Once I experienced the various facets and the unending new developments, on a day to day basis I found a sense of pride and source of inspiration. After my graduation, I joined MNJ, where I got the opportunity to work under the guidance of Mr. Javed Jabbar, one of the key figures of the advertising industry in Pakistan. View full post…

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Opinion: The future of media industry in Pakistan

The future can only be assessed on the basis of the present local media scenario and developments abroad in recent times. The current media explosion is obvious to all of us; however we must first distinguish the high growth ones, which currently, is the electronic media. The ground reality is that in a low literacy country like ours, audio- visual medium has a stronger impact on the masses than print media. Furthermore, those groups which hold a strong presence in electronic and print do hold a significant advantage over those who don’t.

Let’s come to the main issue related to media, with particular focus on electronic media content and take an honest look at what content do we really see on Pakistani channels. Almost all entertainment oriented channels are cheaper versions of Indian channels. Some of them are already heavy on telecasting Indian content, whereas others are busy copying formula programming that they feel is commercially successful. I am personally disappointed by the low

self-esteem that seems to be depicted by our electronic media industry, the ripple effect of which permeates through Pakistani viewers.
I say this because only two decades ago Pakistani dramas were zealously sought by Indians, which are now nowhere to be seen. The question is what happened and where did we go wrong? I feel that the answer lies in the fact that we don’t recognize our strengths- rather, we believe in short cuts and getting influenced by others.

My final analysis on the subject—we must all wake up or be prepared to lose the battle. Whether we like it or not the media game is very big and the only thing that can sustain small players is quality content relevant to viewers.

Ahmed Kapadia
CEO, Synergy

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He runs an agency. Ad agency. Add to that a leading marketing corporation. And a partner whose cooperation has made the two a leader in the market. That’s Ahmed Kapadia of Awan & Kapadia the advertising agency whose client list is impressive and work impressive still. He is the son of veteran actor Latif Kapadia. Whose footsteps he briefly followed before marching to his own tune. He is a close friend of Salman Ahmed. Whose jazba-e-junoon he helped turn into an anthem. He helped launch Coke in Pakistan. He is now launching Jinnah – The Movie. He teaches readily what he learns. And admits quickly he is self-taught. The key he says to his success. A success he knows is well earned.

So was Awan & Kapadia the aim in life realized or a dream eventually come true?

A bit of both I guess. But more than anything else it was a solution to our discontentment with the advertising scene in Pakistan. While at IBA Imran and I realized that the services ad agencies are supposed to provide and those provided by them in Pakistan are not one and the same. Advertising agencies all over the world are considered to be partners in brand building a concept that isn’t View full post…

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Break the Rules!


Ahmed Kapadia Managing Director
Synergy Advertising (Pvt) Ltd Message

Focused on a theme of breaking rules and challenging the status quo, Adasia 2003 feels like an extension to the core philosophy employed at Synergy. A philosophy which has made Synergy Advertising, Synergy Marketing and Synergy Brand, Parts of the Fastest growing Integrated Marketing and Communications Group in Pakistan.

Since our inception, we have always believed in defining rules rather than following the age-old business conventionally, agencies cannot see beyond their noses and focus only on revenues, This results in the ‘conventional’ high turn-over. Being fiercely proud of the indigenous enterprise we are development, direction and eventual empowerment of talent is the key to our low turn-over rates and a rather unconventional culture.

With diverse minds getting together at adasia 2003, we are positive that a critical mass of excellence in communication will develop and spur evolution of the ‘new’, ‘youthful’ paradigm that the region needs today.

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Marketing Association of Pakistan Enabling Marketers in Meeting the challenges of Today

Ahmed Kapadia Looks Ahead
An interview with Mr. Ahmed Kapadia, Managing
Director, Synergy Advertising
October 2005

Let’s start with a brief background about Synergy Advertising.

Synergy Advertising was established in May 1999 and in a very short span of time I’m pleased to say we have made a name for ourselves as a centre of excellence in brand communication. We are currently Pakistan’s fastest growing integrated media communications group and have service that straddle the complete spectrum of advertising services ranging from traditional advertising, to media exploitation, media planning and buying, events, BTL, brand development, media marketing, research, PR, productions, publication management and strategic communications.

What inspired you to take up advertising as a career?

It was a twist of fate actually that got me into advertising but once I got into, the many components of this field came to be May sources of inspiration. After my graduation I joined MNJ, where I got the opportunity to work under the guidance of Mr. Javed jabber, one of the key figures of the advertising industry in Pakistan, In 1992, with an MBA degree to my credit, I joined “Lackson Tobacco’ as ‘Brand Manager’ where I managed also the ‘ Red and white brand for the next three and half years, View full post…

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