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July 13th 2016, marks 20 years of our corporate motivational programs at Intek Solutions.I remember this day very well back in 1996 when I requested my father (RIP) to come and cut the ribbon to launch our new training company specialising in developing practical inhouse workshops. He was one of the few people who supported me with the idea of having our own concern – Most friends I knew, objected to my move, specially considering how well I was doing as head of finance of a large organization while enjoying the glamour of fancy travels and perks. It was a tough transition, but all my experiences in the past 20 years are an integral part in the “journey of an entrepreneur”
Finance was good while it lasted but internally I had a restless drive to do something more… more than counting numbers and making profits for my employers. Needed a bigger cause and I found that Mission at 37 years of age and having worked for five different organizations including British American Tobacco, Merrill Lynch in Singapore, Informatics and a couple of private companies.
There were only a few training companies in Pakistan at that time and were primarily focused on theoretical stuff rather than practical concerns. My creativity nurtured when I developed our own training material based on my 12 years of corporate finance. To be honest, I didn’t have enough money to buy office and pay salaries… Just an infinite acceleration and belief in the long term…
When I needed computers and other fixed assets for our office I went to the bankers who used to claim being my best friends, requesting them for a loan and they refused. This was the first slap on my ego!
The first thing you need when you start a new business is to have customers. Now selling was a totally different ball game for me at that time.So I went knocking doors back in 1996 with the pressure of paying salaries of staff and to sustain my family of 3 small children and parents and of course, to survive in a low economic downturn that Pakistan was facing at that time. Fortunately, after a long struggle, despite persuasion by family and close friends, I kept going until we established our good name in the market in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad in about 3 years time. By now we became the biggest name in a virgin market with lots of gaps to fill.
My wife, Zaufyshan, also joined us at Intek and took over the back office operations while I was doing business development in my travels. Best decision of my life really, especially that she is from a psychology background. For she has been the positive influence when I needed that extra motivation myself. Thanks to my mother (RIP) for finding her for me. I could never find a life companion like her at age 28, when we got married. Thank you Ammah! In 1999, decided to expand to Dubai and only 3 people registered at our workshop named “Mind Openers for Managers” (now a very popular in-house workshop in the region). Was going to cancel when a friend’s wife said “what about the rights of the 3 people who registered”? So I took my first ever trip to Dubai and stayed at the Avari hotel (Pakistani chain) in Deira close to clock tower and conducted the 2 day workshop on my daughter Amal’s birthday, considering it a lucky day. 26th July 1999 did turn out to be a lucky day as out of the 3 people, one became my best friend in life, one company gave us USD 23,000 worth of business in the next 3 years in UAE and one attendee’s boss became our sponsor in UAE (and still is).
The knocking started again in UAE and we got our first clients Kanoo Travel and Al Serkal group followed by DNATA, Al Tayer Group, Ford, GM, UTS Carrier, NBAD to name a few, which helped us to move our children to Dubai and settle here making it a solid base with a booming economy. After UAE, decided to explore Qatar and KSA and in a few years established good clientele there, Alhamdulillah! Now we have presence in 16 countries.
Now looking back at the last 20 years, I feel nostalgic at the struggle we have made to be here. Not only has this work (also my passion to motivate people) has benefited us professionally, but also helped us to evolve into better human beings for anybody who crosses our path. To be honest the biggest benefactors of this work is reflected through our 3 children, Hamza, Amal and Miryll who have naturally adopted leadership roles in their own respective lives. In fact Amal, after graduating from Chicago has joined Zaufy and I and is a constant push behind us to keep going further and challenge our comfort zones. So overall its been a great journey, personally and professionally.
So my advise (if I may) to the reader of this post (if you are still reading) is to:
Thank you for reading this far, (if you are still here) Let me know if I can be of any help to you ever, personally of professionally.
Wish you a happy journey of life, dear friend!!!