An Enviable Tycoon, a ‘Titan of Business’

Dr Mirza Ikhtiar Baig Advisor to PM on Textile, Chairman Baig Group of Companies, and CEO of Textile City of Pakistan

The Baig Group has been working in Pakistan, Dubai and Morocco for the last 26 years.Dr Mirza Ikhtiar

Baig, Advisor to the Government of Pakistan on Textile is a distinguished industrialist. He holds the most prestigious civil award Tamgha-i-Imtiaz, conferred by the President of Pakistan, in recognition to his contribution to the national economy.

Dr Baig is the Chairman of Baig Group of Industries, a multinational conglomerate operating in diversified fields in Pakistan, the UAE and Morocco for the last 26 years. He has done his Masters in Marketing and earned his Doctorate from USA. He is a businessman par excellence, who brings in a rich background of international exposure to the realms of finance and banking.

Dr Baig is the author of several books which include Sheh Rug Part I and Part II and Muashi Haqqaiq Aur Pakistan and papers on the current national and international economic issues. He has regularly been writing columns on the subject of economics in Pakistan’s prestigious newspapers for the last 12 years and his expert opinions are given due weight by policymakers.

As a diplomat, Honorary Consul General of the Republic of Yemen and an elected Dean Consular Corps, Sindh, aside from his association with the World Federation of Consuls at Brussels (Belgium), he has recently been elected as Director on Board of World Federation of Consuls representing Pakistan.

Dr Baig is the central leader of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Deputy Coordinator, People’s Business Forum. He is the recipient of various awards and gold medals from the President of Pakistan in recognition to his meritorious services in the field of banking and finance. He also has the credit of receiving the FPCCI Special Export Merit Trophy Award from President/Prime Minister of Pakistan for the last 13 consecutive years for high export performance of denim fabric from the Head of the State of Pakistan.

Dr Baig has been recently appointed as Chairman Pakistan Textile City Ltd, Karachi. He is also on Board of FPCCI and Chairman, Banking Credit & Finance. He is the Chairman of PAK-UAE Joint Business Council, an affiliate body of Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce & Industry, and UAE Chamber of Commerce & Industry under the patronage of Foreign Ministers of Pakistan and the UAE.

He has been awarded a prestigious ‘Certificate of Achievement’ by Economist, a magazine of international repute. Dr Baig was instrumental for the five-year first-ever National Textile Policy 2009-14 announced by government on 12 August 2009. He has been nominated at the Prime Minister’s Business Persons Council (BPC), a think-tank to make recommendations on the national economic policies chaired by the President, PM and Finance Minister.

He is also the Honorary Secretary General of Make-A-Wish Foundation Pakistan, an International NGO granting the last wishes of the terminally-ill children. Recently, he has received FPCCI Special Merit Export Award 2011-12 from President Asif Ali Zardari on export of denim fabric at a ceremony held at the Governor’s House, Sindh. The ceremony was attended by Dr Ishrat-ul-Ibad, Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Senator Salim Mandviwala, Yaseen Anwar, Tariq Sayeed, the President and office bearers of FPCCI. He also accompanied the president in his recent visit to South Korea.

Excerpts of the interview:

Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): Could you please tell us something about your brought-up, educational background and achievements?

Dr Mirza Ikhtiar Baig (DMIB): I feel really proud of my being a self-made man as the business we own today is the result of our long toil. I started my career as a banker with UBL before grabbing a chance to work with a new bank in Dubai i.e. the Middle East Bank. And, finally, my strenuous efforts bore fruit with the Blessings and Grace of Almighty Allah. After I joined, my (bank) branch earned the highest profit and touched the peak. Nevertheless, later, I realized that I would be wasting my energy and time for others. So I decided to start my own business.

My brother, Ishtiaq, who is a mechanical engineer by profession, was also in Dubai where he worked as head of the Planning & Estimation Department for Sharjah Shipyard Company. We both saved money, say about five or six lac Dirhams and then we started our business. I told my brother that we would not go for any stereotype business but an innovative one. I believe that a good idea is half success. In 1992, a revolutionary change took place in photography as Noriso, a Japanese company, introduced a quick system of processing pictures that could be developed in 45 minutes. So I told my brother that we should invest in that business. Afterwards, I took leave from my bank and flew to Japan for the purpose of business. As a result, we became pioneers of the latest technology in Dubai by the name of Photo Magic. We invested out of our own pocket and, of course, with some bank loan. It will be interesting for the readers to learn that within just six months’ time we paid off the bank loan and cleared the account. Today, there are more than 25 outlets of Photo Magic in Dubai and also in Morocco, and our business is flourishing by the Grace of Almighty Allah.

 Well, when we (my brother Ishtiaq and me) received an invitation in connection with the ‘Ghusl-e-Ka’ba’ ceremony, it was unbelievable for me. Because there were dignitaries of very high stature from countries around the world and we stood in awe.
 At present, I represent the Baig Group as its Chairman. The Group has been operating not only in Pakistan, but also in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Morocco for the last 26 years. We aim at diversifying the industrial and business activities ranging from the spinning, denim, digital imaging, electronic media, trading, import and export and financial services. My thesis was on ‘Revival of sick industries can catapult economic growth in Pakistan,’ that evidenced as to what extent the revival of sick industries, where investment had already been made, could yield encouraging results and, obviously, the economic gains.
With a professional approach, good academic background and the confidently valuable exposure abroad,

I feel immense satisfaction in working for this industry.

I arrive at office at 9 in the morning, before the arrival of my staff, and try to stay back till late. I strongly believe that if you try to follow and put into practice what you have learnt from education and experience, you will get the best results. Here, I would like to mention that the secret of our brilliant success is the prayers of our beloved mother. And, incredibly, whenever I planned to start a new project I would call my mother to seek her prayers and best wishes. Indeed, we got as much as we wished by dint of the spiritual blessings and prayers of our mother.

JWT: As you say you cope with diversified business activities, how you actually manage to do all that?

DMIB: Well, I strongly believe in professional management and delegation of power because I do not want to retain power in my hands. So I prefer to add highly professional people and pay them commensurate with their knowledge, abilities and experience. They are assigned new tasks and given responsibilities for the end result. To my mind, that’s the way to manage a business.

JWT: In Punjab, we do not have sufficient energy to run the industry in this province, while in Karachi we do not find conducive environment with regard to business. Don’t you reckon that we are heading towards an industrial disaster?

DMIB: Well, in a way, we are confronting an abnormal situation at present. In fact, we are in the war-zone, and we must bear in mind this very factor because we are fighting a war on terror. That is why not just foreign, even local investors are reluctant to invest in a country like Pakistan. But we cannot just say goodbye to our mission. We must gird up our loins to eliminate terrorists including all those elements who pose a serious threat to the sovereignty of our country. But we should do the needful reasonably well and in an appropriate manner in view of the present circumstances. In fact this is high time that we make a ‘charter of economy’ by taking on board all the stakeholders, because we have already witnessed frequent and most unexpected changes in the government affairs which, as a result, adversely affected Pakistan’s economy.

JWT: No doubt, you have won laurels and your skills have earned you a name to enjoy greatly in the business community not just in Pakistan, but also abroad. Would you like to relate us some interesting, or wonderful incident by way of your recognition?

DMIB: Well, when we (my brother Ishtiaq and me) received an invitation in connection with the ‘Ghusl-e-Ka’ba’ ceremony, it was unbelievable for me. Because there were dignitaries of very high stature from countries around the world and we stood in awe.

JWT: What message would you like to give to the youth of Pakistan?
DMIB: Our youth is very talented but the problem with them is that they believe in short-cuts. They do not believe in hard work. Either they don’t like it or they simply can’t afford to be patient. I would advise young people that they ought not believe in short-cuts and rather get good education and then acquire some really useful skills coupled with excellent academic qualifications. All that would give them a lot of confidence and impetus if they go out for work with sincere and honest intentions. Whatever work you are doing you have got to be honest and sincere in the work or job you do. Then you are destined to reap the fruit you have been after. A good academic background and hard work definitely help you and put you on the right track with honest intentions and your parents’ prayer    especially your mother’s  guaranteeing success and prosperity.

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