Day 2 of LIIBS 2024 – Uniting Visionaries for Collaborative Growth

Islamabad: The vibrant atmosphere of collaboration and innovation continued to flourish on the second day of the highly anticipated 7th Edition of the LEADERS IN ISLAMABAD BUSINESS SUMMIT (LIIBS). Hosted at a local hotel in Islamabad, the event brought together visionary leaders, entrepreneurs, and stakeholders to drive economic development on both regional and global scales.

The 7th Edition of LIIBS is jointly hosted by Nutshell Group and Unity Foods Limited, in collaboration with OICCI (Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry), with Faysal Bank Limited as the Platinum partner, and InfraZamin Pakistan as the strategic partner. The theme of the event this year is ‘Collaborating for Growth’.

Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman (Rtd), Pakistan’s Chief of Air Staff (2015-2018), thanked the participants and delegates for contributing to the success of this event. “The private sector should take responsibility. This call to action highlights the key role that private businesses and enterprises can play in driving economic growth, job creation, and innovation. Collaborative efforts between the government and the private sector can unlock new opportunities, attract investments, and address key challenges facing the country’s economy. Today, the world has changed. It’s not about geo-politics, but it’s about geo-economics and if economics is the key, then the private sector is the one that is supposed to take the responsibility. Consistency of policies is imperative.”

Elaborating further, he said, “It is essential for us to reassess the dynamics between government-to-government interactions and business engagements. This involves carefully examining and potentially restructuring the relationships and collaborations that exist between governments and businesses. Such a reassessment is crucial for enhancing cooperation, fostering mutual understanding, and promoting sustainable economic growth.”

The day started with an inspiring dialogue, Forging the Future. Moderated by Dr. Shahid Mahmud, Chairman & CEO, Interactive Group of Companies. The panel comprised Konstantin Makarov, Senior Executive Officer, StartLink, Middle East & Africa; Strategic Advisor, Global Markets, Van Tuyl Companies & Perry Ellis International; Arshad Saeed Hussain, Managing Director, Oxford University Press, Pakistan; Dr. Zeeshan Bin Ishtiaque, Chief Executive Officer, Shifa International Hospital; and Ali Khizar, Head of Research, Business Recorder.

Commenting on the importance of a sustainable educational framework in today’s interconnected business landscape, Arshad said, “Bite-sized learning modules for focused learning, gamification for fun-based educational activities, & blended learning where learning is not restricted to digital or in-person educational resources, can be a good mix to cater to the learning needs of our future learners.”

Sharing his expertise, Konstantin said, “There are 5 key trends in the emerging markets: digital transformation, urbanization and infrastructure development, transportation solutions, demographic shifts, and shift in global supply chains.”

Contributing to the discussion, Zeeshan said, “First and foremost, challenges bring opportunities. Complexity in the future can be simplified by working together as a team to achieve a common goal. We need to work towards how we are going to deal with the policy-making, rules & regulations at the national level.”

Commenting on the challenges that lie ahead for Pakistan, Ali said, “One of our macro problems is that the revenues are short, and the governance is poor, so we can address it through digitalization and documentation of the economy as it can help resolve the taxation issue. Currently, Pakistan finds itself in a position of needing to engage with the IMF. However, it must proactively implement measures to prevent such circumstances from recurring in the future.”

One of the highlights of the day was the panel discussion on Leadership & Strategy in the Age of Disruption, moderated by Saquib Ahmad, Country Managing Director, SAP Pakistan, Iraq, Bahrain & Afghanistan. Esteemed panelists shared insights on how leadership in organizations needs to deal with the changing dynamics of the modern world.

Dr. Amjad Waheed, CEO, NBP Funds; and Zarrar Hasham Khan, Group Chief Business Solutions Officer, PTCL Group participated in this discussion.
Dr. Amjad, a committed visionary and corporate leader, commented on the need to disrupt the mindset, “I perceive that the upheaval we are experiencing transcends mere technological advancements; it is a disruption of mindset. This shift in perspective is profound and far-reaching, affecting how we perceive the world, make decisions, and interact with each other. It is not just about adapting to new technologies, but also about embracing new ways of thinking and approaching problems. This mindset disruption holds significant implications for how we navigate our personal and professional lives, as well as how we shape the future of our society..”

Zarrar, speaking on the telecom industry and connectivity needs for developing economies, stated, “Traditional structures in industrialized countries are collapsing, with AI revolutionizing software development. Successful societies are those where means of communication are readily available. Whereas the emergence of cloud services & AI is encouraging, Pakistan will need significant changes in the development & delivery of efficient systems.”

Saquib, summed up the talk with his take on the need to own the change. He said, “If we want to make an impact, we need to bring a change ourselves. That is the disruption this country needs. That is the impact we all need. It is us who have to own the responsibility and make an impact.”

In his address to tackle challenges related to climate, FDI, and economic growth, Sajjeed Aslam, Partner, Spectreco LLC, USA, posed a crucial question, “Who will take on the pivotal responsibility to drive change? Across civilizations, there is a common pursuit to identify those few wise individuals who will initiate action. While discussions may abound, the true challenge lies in the execution phase.”

Sajjeed further elaborated, “It takes a lot of effort, courage, and motivation to move from zero to one, as it is the most difficult journey. It is not one to nine, It is zero to one that takes a lot of thrust and a lot of people to work together.”

Emerging issues were showcased in the following session comprising a conversation between Moustafa H. Moharram, Chairman Moharram & Partners, and Usman Yousuf, Director, Nutshell Communications regarding the BIG Rethink for collaboration.

Usman opening the conversation opined, “Sometimes, we do not appreciate all the positive things that the country where we were born, has to offer, and at times, we tend to focus on the negative aspects only. We tend to focus on the problems. In life, we all have our motivations. When success is achieved in business, the profit motive often recedes, giving way to a deeper focus on our role as human beings and how we can contribute value to our community and the lives of those around us.”

Moustafa sharing his experience of being in Pakistan said, “Pakistan is the closest to Egypt culturally, economically, and historically, so it makes sense to collaborate and work together. Pakistan has a great pool of talent in terms of digital skills and education. The significant young population is capable of exporting their services. It is all about being focused on the things that matter.”

Discussion on The BIG Data came up right after. Moderated by Mujeeb Zahur, Managing Director, S&P Global Pakistan, the conversation explored data application and the ideal utilization of this precious resource for strengthening the economic and industrial framework. The panel included Marisa Taylor, Head of Commercial Technology Architecture & Engineering, Digital Solutions, S&P Global; Mike Ying, Head of Data Architecture, Commercial & Marketing Technology, Digital Solutions, S&P Global; and Jeffrey Malin, Head of Solution Delivery, Commercial & Marketing Technology, Digital Solutions, S&P Global.

Commenting on the scope of working with AI, Marisa stated, “Data is the backbone of Generative AI and this is a level-playing field because no one has completely figured it out yet. It gives us all the opportunities to experiment so our focus is around the concept of trying things out.”

Mike supported the idea by elaborating on Marisa’s comments, “AIstarts with data. Data drives our capabilities. We must ensure that we have data architecture and infrastructure in place to put ourselves in a position to succeed with Gen AI capabilities.”

Contributing to the discussion, Jeffrey, said, “As we became familiar with the concept of AI, we discovered the availability of publicly accessible tools. Consequently, we implemented a comprehensive training program for our teams, empowering them to leverage these tools effectively in pursuit of our objectives.”

Mujeeb recapped the discussion and shared, “We focus on making AI tools available for people, democratize access to tools which is an essential component of creating awareness, and build expertise in people around these capabilities. The greater our ability to incorporate applications that harness these capabilities into our workflows, the more we can enhance productivity, both at the individual and organizational levels.”

In his closing remarks Dr. Jehad El-Nakla, Chairman, Al Baraka Bank Pakistan Limited said, “Following discussions on economic matters with Pakistan’s Finance Minister, Muhammad Aurangzeb, I am convinced that the country is making significant strides in the right direction. Our conversations have highlighted the positive initiatives and policies being implemented, indicating a forward momentum in economic development.”

Alessandro Ferin, Founder & CEO, Novelty Media, Italy, said, “We have started investing in Pakistan because communication is not a barrier. Access to millions of young individuals is a tremendous opportunity for startups whose enterprise value is calculated against the size of their customer base. The more Pakistan is exposed to international investors, the more tourism will come into the country.”

LIIBS 2024, provided two days of countless opportunities for the delegates to collaborate and coordinate with global business leaders. The panel discussions and presentations highlighted various learnings from diverse sectors. All speakers reiterated the need for Pakistan to become a strategic partner and collaborate for growth and success.

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