Scaling New Heights: Syed Umar Farooq, LUMS EMBA 2012
Syed Umar Farooq, a graduate of the class of 2012, talks to us about the LUMS Executive MBA Programme (EMBA), how it changed his life and his professional goals.
Farooq graduated on the Dean’s honour list and his project on the 3G EVO Wireless Broadband was declared the best project among EMBA dissertations.
Farooq completed his high school from Pakistan Embassy School and College, Muscat, Oman and went on to complete his Bachelors in Electrical Engineering from the University of Engineering and Technology (UET), Lahore in 2002. He joined Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) in June 2004 as a trainee engineer and is now working there as Senior Manager Wireless-GTR. Having spent almost 12 years away from Pakistan, Farooq returned to Pakistan after being admitted to UET Lahore. After completing his engineering degree, he wanted to stay back in Pakistan and serve the country. “My 8 years at PTCL have been really fruitful. It gave me a chance to get experience of working on state-of-the-art technologies while working as Field Engineer and then as National Project Coordinator at the PTCL headquarters in Islamabad, responsible for the overall rollout of the EVO project countrywide. I have received extensive trainings locally and abroad. During my tenure at PTCL, I have been received many promotions in the shortest possible time; I have been recognised for my achievements. I was awarded the Best Performance Award by the President of PTCL, for the rollout of maximum sites in a month, Best Performance Award by CTO PTCL for in-house shifting of complete cell sites and Best Performance Award by CTO & COO PTCL for the launch of EVO service in 100 cities of Pakistan in a very short time. Also, PTCL provided me with an opportunity to get an EMBA degree from the top reputed university of Pakistan, LUMS.”
Talking about the motivation behind his pursuing the EMBA degree, Farooq said that a Masters in Business Administration adds a "whole new dimension of ‘business sense’ to the core engineering background employees, enabling them to device commercially feasible technical solutions."
“The Executive MBA (EMBA) remains one of the most solid investments you can make in yourself. Providing intense leadership development, greater strategic vision and immediately applicable skills, only available at the best institute in the region, LUMS,” states Farooq. He shared that as he moved up the corporate ladder, he realised that it’s important to have a thorough understanding of business dynamics whether it be finance, marketing, strategy or operations and that's what motivated him to pursue an EMBA degree.
“I had always planned and dreamt of getting my business degree from LUMS and then suddenly a golden opportunity arrived. PTCL decided to sponsor its key performers. I was short listed from the technical team under this employee improvement initiative, appeared at the LUMS admission tests and interviews and finally got selected for the programme that was going to change my attitude towards issues, strengthen my thought process, change my outlook and broaden my horizon,” recalls Farooq.
Farooq says that he has gained a lot from the EMBA degree, both on the professional and personal front. He states that in today’s competitive market, state-of-the-art technology, skills and knowledge are all essential commodities but it is 'Value' that matters and on the professional front, it is this value which he intends to take to his organisation after this EMBA degree.
Praising the EMBA model, Farooq said, “Studying whilst you remain in full-time employment enables you to improve your workplace performance from the very first day as you apply each new classroom concept with direct relevance to you and your organisation. The practical business expertise and the new ways of management thinking that you develop during the EMBA programme change your approach to decision making and give you the ideas, inspiration and contacts to shape your future career. The degree enables you to easily and successfully make the transition to general management from a technical or functional role. The programme also allows you to gain breadth across a range of business and management disciplines. You gain entrepreneurial skills to help you develop your own venture, or to implement new and innovative ideas within your organisation.”
Farooq shared that skills learnt during the programme have already helped him do wonders in operations management process improvement and customer care. He says that the case method gives one a feel and chance to discuss real world situations. He also said that when one has gone through four hundred real world cases in areas ranging from communication skills, managing people, organisational behavior and business strategy to complex issues in corporate finance, it ‘gives you the knowledge, insights and confidence to operate successfully in any situation anywhere in the world.’
Farooq’s EMBA project, titled ‘Making EVO a Bigger Success’ was supervised by Dr. Syed Zahoor Hassan, Professor, Suleman Dawood School of Business (SDSB). This project was rated the best amongst the EMBA class of 2012. He chose this as his project topic as EVO has been very close to his heart as he has been involved in network planning, roll out and operations of the product. “I wanted to explore and research the product strengths/weaknesses by applying the tools and techniques we learned during the EMBA.”
Elaborating on his dissertation project, he said, “PTCL, in the deregulated era, understood the challenge and rightly opted to invest in the new technologies, CDMA being one of them. PTCL’s EVO wireless broad-band service had proven that the strategy chosen was right. The product has almost delivered the intended results by capturing the market of aspiring high bandwidth users but at the same time there are still grey areas and room for improvements. If managed properly at this stage, the product offers much more capacity to deliver specially in the absence of 3G Technology which is still to be licensed in Pakistan. My project critically analyses various factors involved in PTCL’s EVO product offerings including organisational structure and processes, technology and operation management, customer feedback analysis. All this will be followed by suggestions and areas of improvement for delivering better value to the customer for making EVO a bigger success. I would also like to thank my project advisor Dr. Syed Zahoor Hassan for his guidance in structuring the theme of my project and my partner Shahzad Sarwar Aziz, as the project has received recognition due to a team effort.”
Sharing his future plans, Farooq said that he intends to continue providing his services to PTCL, contributing effectively in its business development programme. He also told us that he is committed to play his part in the economic and educational uplift of Pakistan in every possible way.