Business is not about making money but doing something good-Farid Hassan


Business is not about making money but
doing something good-Farid Hassan

Highlights the Five Take Aways to pulling off a Turnaround in business

Before going for Turnaround, it is important to
recognize that there is a problem - Aliuddin Ansari

KARACHI: Business is not about making money but doing something good and every Turnaround is a different situation. This was stated by Mr. Farid Hassan who with his wisdom and foresight in management has accomplished numerous Turnarounds and has described his success story in a recent book he has authored “Reinvent: The Reader’s Playbook for Serial Success”. He shared his success recipe with business leaders which also included a number of chief executives of various pharmaceutical companies in Pakistan through Video link presentation from United States at a meeting organized by Karachi School of Business and Leadership recently. Mr. Farid Hassan, it may be mentioned here has also served in Pakistan as Chief Executive of Sandoz (which later became Novartis) and made it a success story. Later he served as Chief Executive of many other pharmaceutical companies in United States.

 Mr. Farid Hassan

Highest level of success, he said, can also be due to experience. It is a thrill and psyche demands new opportunities. He then highlighted the Five Take Aways to Pulling off a Turnaround with new thinking, new capabilities and new urgency. First stabilize, and then repair before going for Turnaround. The first principle he mentioned was to develop the clear end goals and intermediate goals to get there. For the first two hundred days, one should listen and learn from the staff. Think how to wake them up, how to build their capabilities and then win. One can then move forward in the next two hundred days. He cautioned that there will be barriers to success. Everyone in the organization is concerned and anxious as to what the new Chief Executive is going to do. Some people are hungry for leadership and they wish to have new leadership.
The second principle he mentioned was to ensure that team at the top is credible, motivated and aligned around the same goals. It is extremely important to put the right people at the right job. Players in A category are always team members but those at Number two are good enough in their own functional areas. He was of the view that one can change the 75% of people at level two in the next two years.
The third principle he stated was to communicate repeatedly and relentlessly so that front lines understand and make the goals their own goals. Groom Research and Development lines, reduce cost, once execution is clear, it becomes strategy and if people at the top are with you, you will succeed and sustain and then build on that momentum.
The fourth principle which Mr. Farid Hassan described was lead by behaviour and by example in order to build authenticity and trust. Remember authentic leaders build Trust; Role Models have to come from the Top. Reinforce the goals of winning culture. Win again and again and make sure that people in the winning team should rely on each other. Finally measure progress, stay flexible, keep people aligned and constantly motivated by celebrating victories big and small. Chief Executive Officer must create a culture where people care for each other and use their best strength every day. They should realize that what they are doing is better and they must be prepared to continue the progress. I have had many memorable times in my life and have groomed many leaders, nine of whom have become Chief Executive Officers of public limited companies, Mr. Farid Hassan concluded.

First part of his book “Reinvent” focuses on how a Leader can unleash his/her full powers by learning to be authentic, purposeful and connected with the organization. The second part of the book focuses on groups, how to lead them, how to be a role model for the effort one expects, how to keep winning and innovating. Taken together all these principles fuel smarter strategies which ensure effective execution and better governance.

Mr. Aliuddin Ansari 

Mr. Aliuddin Ansari Chief Executive of Engro was the second speaker in this session who in his presentation said that we do need high achievers as there was a great need for turnaround in Pakistan these days. The first most important thing, he opined was to recognize that there is a problem and then thinks for turnabout strategies. It is also important the there is a belief among the management that the situation can be trunedaround. Then one has to think how to get the team together. Develop your goals, strategy, inculcate character building, get a team and change those people who believe turnaround cannot happen. Then get the team aligned, get everyone on board, open dialogue. The leader must be prepared to answer tough questions. One should lead by behaviour and remember everyone in the organization is watching you.
Speaking about the measurement of success, Mr. Aliuddin Ansari said that it can be sales, profit and loss. Employees lower down will know the issues your organization is facing. How you bring changes in the culture is important. At times changes can be painful and destructive as well. Organizational changes, Mr. Aliuddin Ansari stated, are difficult to bring about than business changes. Beware of challenges you might face from the government, customers, shareholders as well as competitors. Keeping up the enthusiasm is a challenge and not everyone is a turnaround specialist, he remarked.
Sharing of pearls of wisdom and knowledge by both the distinguished speakers was followed by a lively discussion which was moderated by Mr. Rizwan Amin Sheikh, Director MBP Programme at Karachi School of Business and Leadership. Responding to a question regarding how to keep the Board happy and on Board, Mr. Farid Hassan said that goals must be clear and one must lead with precision. CEO should not forget who is the Boss. He / She must talk to the Board members regularly even outside the Board meetings, tell them what you are going to do. Share information with them early and there should be no surprises for the Board. Remain humble and have respect for the Board. Answering another question as to how you convince the skeptical people, Mr. Farid Hassan said that fence sitters can be convinced and converted but passive aggressors are the most dangerous people. They give you a smile and they give the impression that they are with you but in fact they are not. They are hard and difficult to control. These are the people you must get them out as nobody should have their own private agenda.
Another question related to how one can keep the parent company happy and willing to invest as the company may be having increased sale and 15-20% growth but the profit is not there or very little due to currency fluctuation. This, Mr. Farid Hassan said is not easy. Currency value keeps on going up and down. One must assure the parent company that that the currency value will change again. You have a huge population and lot of talented younger generation; hence it is not advisable to react to short term event. Replying to another question he advised that it is time that leadership of the pharmaceutical industry in Pakistan gets united and talks about the Pharma industry as a whole rather than pursing their own vested interests otherwise in the long run they all will suffer. There is an artificial drug price control in Pakistan which cannot work. The government’s policy to provide drugs at affordable prices is noble but it must come out with schemes to help the poor and needy but rigid price control will not allow development and progress of the pharmaceutical industry. Answering yet another question Mr. Farid Hassan said that convince the people inside of your view but remember the strength comes from outside. Show respect to each other, take ownership and remember Command and Control are least effective in the long run. Keep calm for the first two hundred days, do not frighten people and create un-necessary anxiety. Tell everyone that you are going to change the company culture. While taking large measures be careful but at times the value of the message may be lost with small changes. How do you develop a single culture after merger of two big companies was another question asked from the audience to which Mr. Farid Hassan said that it takes time and eventually one company’s culture may dominate and others join it and follow and some might decide to leave. Responding to a suggestion that there are many public sector institutions in Pakistan which need a turnaround specialist and what he can do as a Pakistani for his country at this moment, Mr. Farid Hassan said that no one has approached him, he was not looking for a job but if asked, he will be too glad to help his own country Pakistan whatever he can do.
Earlier Mr. Rizwan Amin Sheikh also introduced the Karachi School of Business and Leadership and stated that they aspire to be one of the best business schools in Pakistan. We have one of the best management faculty in Pakistan. He also gave details of MBA Programme and Executive MBA Programme. This was first in the series of such a dialogue and we intend to have many such sessions in the days to come, he remarked.