LUMS Convocation 2017 Address: Prof. Dr. S. Sohail H. Naqvi, Vice Chancellor LUMS

Monday, July 10, 2017

Rector, LUMS, Abdul Razak Dawood, founding trustee and great benefactor of LUMS; our convocation speaker Mr. Arif Naqvi, founder and group chief executive of the Abraaj group, one of the world’s leading private equity firms, founder of Aman Foundation, a son of the soil that Pakistan can be truly proud of; members of the Board of Trustees, esteemed faculty members; parents, friends and families of the students and dear graduates of the Class of 2017.

Assalam Alaikum and welcome to the 29th Convocation Ceremony for the 30th graduating batch of the Lahore University of Management Sciences.

It is my privilege to be among these young graduates who are poised to lead this great country to join the ranks of developed nations of the world. I speak with certitude because with merit as the only criteria, and funds as no barrier to entry, we at LUMS select the best; and that is where this journey starts. An intense and exhilarating curriculum where they have the freedom to explore their interests, to take the path less travelled, to push boundaries to understand themselves and the world they are surrounded by, to question everything; all at a breakneck speed while they are also playing sports, strumming the guitar, debating all night, organising World Autism Day; all this creates that special ingot which is the LUMS graduate you see today. So yes, I am absolutely sure. You are looking at the future of this nation. And the future is very bright.

Graduates of 2017 please rise and be acknowledged. Let us show a glimpse to the world of Pakistan’s real wealth and riches.

If this spirit looks familiar it is because you saw a flash of it in the eyes of Shadab Khan as the ball hit the pad of Yuvraj Singh and the youngster knew, and insisted, he had him. It was there in the slash of Fakhar Zaman’s bat as he flayed all who dared to bowl him. ‘The enduring meritocracy of talent,’ as the Guardian put it. 

These graduates have that talent, passion, discipline and irreverence of youth with the knowledge to negotiate the treacherous waters of hate alliances, doublespeak, great games and free-for-all grab of resources, all in the garb of worldly and spiritual holiness. These are testing and tragic times indeed. The Parachinar catastrophe, endless violence in Quetta and the burning fuel in Bahawalpur have scorched our soul.  We have a choice to make here; to be engulfed in this pall of gloom or dare to bring hope as the young leaders of Canada and France have brought to their people. It is the moment to reaffirm your faith in the values you have imbibed here. Graduates of LUMS, it is time to lead, serve and bring hope to this beautiful country that has given you everything.

This has again been a banner year for LUMS. Ranked No. 1 in QS Asian University listings, jumping 50 places over last year, LUMS also had the largest percentage of faculty publishing in the world’s best journals compared to any other university in the country, starting September 2017 LUMS cases will be available online through Harvard Business Publishing, externally funded research projects were awarded at a furious pace with over PKR 500 Million worth of projects funded during the year. We also won the bid for hosting the National Incubation Centre at LUMS at a cost of PKR 600 Million to be funded by the ICT R&D Fund to house an incubation centre, an accelerator, a design thinking lounge, MakerLab for the gadget freaks and a plug-n-play centre. In true LUMS fashion our bid had the highest technical score and the lowest financial amount as compared to 32 others from the country. At the other end of the entrepreneurial spectrum Rizq, operational in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad, founded by LUMS sophomores, who graduate today, aims to eliminate hunger and malnutrition from Pakistan.

With by far the best record of employee satisfaction, it is no wonder that 86% percentage of the previous batch was placed by September 30th, a record I expect these graduates to break, considering the large number with confirmed job offers or placements in premier institutions abroad. Twenty of these graduates have qualified the CSS exam, joining a rapidly expanding LUMS cohort of civil servants. Collective excellence and individual brilliance is the hallmark of LUMS. Saman Tariq won the Rhodes Scholarship from Pakistan this year, a three-person team won the regional brandstorm competition and went on to compete in Paris for the world prize, LUMS won silver in tennis, and there is hardly a top ranked university where these graduates are not going.

LUMS, originating as the Lahore Business School has not forgotten its original industrial benefactors and the debt it owes them of remaining true to the needs of the country first. During the past year, the Rausing Executive Development Centre has launched new programmes in the area of marketing innovation and strategic sourcing. Another leadership programme for Senior Executives explored how leaders successfully align people and strategy enabling their businesses to build human and financial capital. The Suleman Dawood School of Business Impact Magazine, initiated this year, translates high end research to the application domain in an attempt to create synergy between theory and practice. International conferences organised by the School in Gender, Work and Society and Islamic Finance ensured that a vibrant forum for interaction with international peers was available to the faculty to guide their research work.

The flagship MBA programme has been entirely redesigned focusing on experiential learning with 13 start-ups being incubated in the entrepreneurship class this past Spring. The new Advisory Board of the School with representation from leading educational institutions including IMD, Switzerland and LSE, among others, as well as international business houses is guiding a new paradigm of development in the School focusing on incorporation of international best practices, cutting edge research and local and international relevance.

In this rapidly changing world where “liberal arts” is the new future for the tech industry, the pioneers of the Mushtaq Ahmad Gurmani School of Humanities and Social Sciences have ensured that LUMS remains an academic leader having launched the English Literature major last year on the back of the history major launched a year prior to that. A minor in Urdu Literature and a minor in Religious Studies is being launched this Fall. Where else would you have the opportunity to take classes from the author of Islamophobia and Secularization, conduct research on digitizing partition stories, archive Pakistan’s cricket history, take a seminar course on Silk Roads and Trade Winds, co-taught by Ayesha Jalal from Tufts, take, 'In Our Times' in which students question their place in the world in terms of identity and belonging or learn 'The Politics of Ecology.' Oh and don’t forget the deep and insightful analysis of the minds of voters of three National Assembly and four Provincial Assembly constituencies in Lahore, placing a premium on their self-interest.

The School continued to be the intellectual heart of the University with its international speaker series, conferences and workshops on a variety of topics from Pakistan at 70 to State, Society and Democracy to regional cinema to South Asian Sufisim to organising LUMS’ first Punjabi play and a memorable Qawwali by Fareed Ayaz in the Central Courtyard.

Graduates of 2017, you would agree that the source of enduring dynamism at LUMS is the faculty, your guides and mentors who have made this day possible for you. May I request you to rise and acknowledge their spirit, dedication and unwavering commitment to excellence.

Building on its tradition of carrying out high quality research, this year the faculty of the Syed Babar Ali School of Science and Engineering had, compared to any other university in the country, the highest percentage of projects (25 out of the 39 submitted) approved for funding from the Higher Education Commission. Two of only a handful of projects approved under the HEC-USAID programme were won by LUMS faculty in the areas of Cyber-Security and Nanomaterials. A research project aimed at developing sensors for automated detection of milk contamination has also recently been approved with partners from KOC university, Turkey. With recent approval for launch of the chemical engineering programme, the future of science and engineering at LUMS is yet brighter.

For the Shaikh Ahmad Hassan School of Law, this year’s convocation is a special one as we graduate our tenth, and largest, batch of students. They even have their own LUMS Law Alumni Association, launched earlier this year. The budding lawyers of our law school participated in moot court competitions in Nepal, the US and Australia and hosted the 6th LUMS national Moot Competition as well as the first ever International Council for Commercial Arbitration/ICCA arbitration skills workshop in Pakistan. The School’s conference on "Arbitration in Pakistan: A lost cause?” included senior practitioners from the UK, UAE, Singapore and of course Pakistan, an important milestone in the legal academic journey of the School of Law.

The LUMS School of Education established at the start of this year has seeded a substantive network of partnerships with leading universities around the world and stakeholders in the public, private, donor and non-profit sectors of education in Pakistan. With these early successes, the School is well-positioned to launch in Fall 2018 a Master’s in Education and Leadership, a Minor in Education for LUMS undergraduates and a Professional Education Institute for Policy and Practice.

It has been a long and, at times, tangled path you have walked to arrive at this day. Some of you have fallen along the way. At each place of success or temporary failure, there was one constant in your life; the love of your parents, family and friends. Graduates, please rise to honour your parents and the people who made today possible.

Graduates of 2017, I think of you closing this important chapter in your life and struggle with the torrent of advice that I wish to give to you. But then I check myself; you are graduates of LUMS who have had the privilege of being surrounded by these beautiful environs most days and nights (I don’t think you went home!) under the tutelage of the finest faculty who challenged you to aspire to greatness. LUMS has never been about the ordinary and you will Inshallah write the next golden chapter. You are our hope for the future. The Board of Trustees of LUMS, its benefactors and supports, the faculty and staff have given everything possible to you. You have witnessed at LUMS the benefits of caring and sharing the financial burden of your fellow citizens. Take this sense of social responsibility with you wherever you go.

Lead Pakistan to achieve its true potential.