‘I have had a guiding role in a great social and intellectual transformation.’

Dr. Farrukh Iqbal, the outgoing Director of IBA, Karachi, talks to SouthAsia in this exclusive interview.

Interview | December 2019

Dr. Ishrat Hussain restructured the IBA on modern lines. What was your motivating force in following in his footsteps?
I had known Dr. Ishrat socially and professionally for a long time before I joined the IBA in 2016 and was aware of the restructuring he had begun. Indeed, I would say that the motivating force behind my decision to take on the assignment at the IBA was my intellectual sympathy and alignment with the objectives of the change he had initiated.

What do you value most in terms of work ethics?
I value consistency in applying institutional rules as an important part of work ethics. Managers should not only make clear institutional rules but should also follow them consistently and transparently. Large

institutions should not be run on personal whims and preferences.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?
I believe my main strength lies in managing highly educated and independent-minded professionals. Such a group requires a fair amount of intellectual space and freedom but must also be persuaded to work towards institutional objectives. This is somewhat like conducting an orchestra. Each individual instrument player must be given room to express himself or herself but they must also be conducted in a way that generates harmonious music as a final result.

How would you look back at your journey as head of IBA?
It has been a very fulfilling journey. I have had the opportunity to advance certain initiatives started by my predecessor as well as to set in motion some new initiatives. I feel that I have had a guiding role in a great social and intellectual transformation that the IBA is undergoing.

What are the important milestones that you have achieved?
I leave IBA in a strong financial position to take on future challenges. Reserves and the endowment have both grown while our dependence on state grants has declined. Our student intake continues to be of the highest quality, whether measured by our own admissions tests or the SAT. Our faculty is improving over time, with many more PhDs being hired and quality research output rising. We have made IBA more accessible to a wider group of students, with financial assistance now being offered in the total amount of PKR 300 million per year to about 900 students. Our graduates continue to face decent employment prospects. While economic cycles can always change prospects, about three quarters of our students can expect to be employed within three months of graduation.

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I have had a guiding role in a great social and intellectual transformation
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