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LESSONS FROM A LEADER RIZWAN GHANI

DIRECTOR – PACKAGES LTD. ENLIGHTENS ABOUT THE SUCCESS STORY OF PACKAGES LTD.
Mr. Rizwan Ghani grew up in Rawalpindi, youngest of four siblings, pampered and spoiled, lived in a big, old farm house and had a wonderful childhood. Mr. Ghani Graduated from Islamabad and went to UK for a post graduate degree in business studies. This move was probably the first water shed in his life, he Graduated with distinction, came back and started working for Packages Limited, his first contact and probably the last, as it has continued to this day.

Mr. Rizwan started as a management trainee in sales and marketing, worked in Karachi and Lahore, 8 years each, 2 years in Islamabad, took over as Head of Marketing for Packaging and Paper Board. Transferred to operations as BU Manager, of company’s first SBU, a mature packaging business on the decline, revamped and re-energized which to this days continues to grow at a healthy pace. Moved to Sri Lanka as the Managing Director of a packaging JV company, again re-structured a stagnated business, initiated and executed new projects added hardware, it is now the largest packaging company in its category of the country and retuned to Pakistan last year.
BM: Give us a brief introduction of Packages Ltd?
RG: The idea of Packages Limited originated in 1956, an initiative by our founder Syed Babar Ali, a leader and a visionary, who in 1956, with hardly any local industry, had this idea of putting up packaging plant based on a belief and vision that the country and its people have tremendous potential to grow and the need of imported packaging materials has to be indigenous. Initially it was a JV between a renowned Swedish packaging company. Some of the machines and workforce also came from this company. This is how it all stared and continued to grow over the time.

BM: Could you explain to us, in a simple way, what’s the difference between your company and the competitors in the market right now?
RG: Let me reply in a different manner and share what we, in this company, feel good about. Our line of business requires excellent human resource and very expensive, complex hardware. Therefore from the day one we have continued to earn and invest in both these areas. This has kept us at par, not only nationally but internally. Our standards and systems are world class, we continuously strive to engage, train, motivate and retain the best HR talent, invest in best, state of the art equipment and technology, anticipate and full fill market needs, provide the best service, work ethically, above board, religiously adhere to the law of the land and carry zero tolerance any other way.  That is why our first business partners are our customers even today. Our philosophy is that we will only grow if our partners grow. It is a great satisfaction to it being practiced day in and day out.

BM: How does it feel to be associated with such an esteemed organization?
RG: Comfortable, fulfilling and sense a great sense of accomplishment. I started with this company as management trainee way back in early eighties, saw it grow, witnessed the change, even accelerated the pace of change and became a part of it and played my role. A pronounced strength of the company is to allow people to make decisions, take initiatives and even more commendable, when they go wrong, not to discourage them but to encourage them to learn from mistakes and continue to take the lead. This is one great motivator, the sense of being empowerment, ownership of acts and decisions. I tell you this generates great feelings of empowerment, ownership and accomplishment.

BM: What are you truly passionate about?
RG: Quite a few but I am passionate about discipline and methodical way of thinking, working and planning. I believe and preach that discipline, structured way of life, working, decision making, thinking and problem solving is imperative for success, may it be your personal or professional life, a business entity, a government or even a country. Disciplined, structured thinking and logical approach enable decisions, actions or reactions to be more productive and beneficial. Arriving on time, your appearance, prior research, weighing the pros and cons before decision making and all methodical and disciplined ways of working essentially is the difference between success and failure. This is the one of the major differences between developed and developing countries as well. I still remember and often quote an example from my stay in one of the low income east European countries where we used to travel from our small town production site to a city on weekends for shopping. The connecting road was two way. But they had paved and prepared 3 times the width, ready for compacting and carpeting when the need arose. Even the trees were planted 3 widths away. Now this is planning, disciple or maybe simple common sense. When the traffic flow increases, say over next 50 years, the lanes will be added, minimum cost, minimum effort, no cutting/replanting of tress, no houses to be demolished. Is it not the reason where we are today??
BM: How many hours a week do you spend on work?  What about family/hobbies?

RG: Well enough to make my family quite unhappy, sometimes 9-10 hours a day, six days a week, sometimes weekends and holiday when necessary. Maybe it seems a bit more but the real beauty is that I was never asked of forced to do so, I put in these hours because I want to, it was rewarding, it is the sense of ownership, a need and responsibility which came with empowerment. We have two sons, both away from home, the elder is about to finish his masters and younger one his bachelors, worlds apart for each other, quite unlike me in many ways. I often tell my wife that we, i.e. siblings and myself left our house/country quite late in our younger days, we enjoyed a care free and happier childhood, wonderful extended time with parents, pampered. Our children left us too soon, faced the world too early and matured too quickly. It is not fair and truly sad in some ways, changing times and circumstances.

BM: What are the key company milestones for the next 6-12 months that need to be achieved?
RG: The country and manufacturing industries are passing through challenging times. I am an optimist and have faith in our country and its bright, hardworking and remarkably resilient people, we shall come out of it soon. But this obviously puts any business under stress, every day is a new a challenge, a challenge which you would not come across under normal conditions. The key to success is agility, changing and adopting according to need and times. This is always a challenge but in such circumstances, it is a greater challenge, one has to think differently, budget differently, plan differently and be ready to change quickly. Therefore to meet our key objectives in short term, i.e. 6-12 months, will remain improving agility, speed to market, and sustained focus on the external factors would be very important.

BM: You have been associated with this company since the past 3 decades, what changes have you noticed since then?
RG: I believe that if we had not changed, we would have ceased to exist as a company. The market needs changed, it grew more enlightened, demanding, the packaging industry changed as well and there is higher and better competition, compatible hardware and services available. There was no alternate but to change and change faster than anyone else. We changed in the way we operate, went for better, younger and more qualified HR resources, improved our services, added latest state of the art hardware and the most difficult but most effective, changed the mind set of our people. But we never compromised on our core values, culture and professional ethics.

BM: Amongst all the products that Packages Ltd offer, which one do you think has been most productive for the company?
RG: Products and generic, products are not exclusive, anyone can produce and supply them, one can only stay ahead of others, before being caught up. What we offer is the “partnership” with our clients, the philosophy that we will only grow if they grow. This says everything, it is not a short term gain or relationship, it should be forever. To do that, integrity, trust, focus, values, ethics, should be common and above board. You will not do anything to harm your partner and vice versa. This is a USP, built over a long period of time, a philosophy put into practice, with integrity, honesty, dedication and sealed with action.

BM: Enlighten us a little about your latest endeavors?
RG: I believe in systems, discipline, planning. We are not a multinational company where these systems have been built and integrated in all the operating companies worldwide, passing through the learning curve over so many years and diverse experiences. We need to improve and strengthen the same. We are growing and we are expending worldwide, this is the need of the day. Secondly for a technology savvy company the quality of HR resource is paramount. It is not only attracting the best talent but training, motivation and retaining the same is imperative. This is a field I particularly enjoy, interaction and involvement with people, we are on a fast track but it will require continued impetuous from the management.

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