CEO’s and Senior Managers offer expert advice
By Fareeha Qayoom
Does the senior management read in Pakistan? What do they read to get ahead? TKFR decided to explore these two basic questions in our survey. As managers, a good chunk of our time everyday is devoted to just reading e-mail for example; sometimes, its sheer drudgery wading through so much information to find the relevant portions. The most important job a manager has to do everyday in his life is to communicate well. It takes basic reading and writing skills to make that happen.
Effective readers are effective managers. Reading is more important today than it ever was — Our lives are impacted greatly by all the things happening around us. It’s critical we keep up with what’s going on. We read to discover lessons learned by others, to explore new ideas, and to further our own professional development. This includes news, process changes, and opportunities for career development. It’s important that we use reading as a learning tool, and enjoy reading. It is crucial to being an informed citizen, to succeed in one’s chosen career, and to personal fulfillment. In other words, there are three primary reasons for reading: to stay informed (such as with newspapers and Web sites); to learn how to do something (such as an instruction manual or a new process manual); and just for pleasure (such as a novel). Remember when people thought technology would decrease the need to read? Technology has actually made knowledge more accessible, there are more specialized magazines out there, more books are being published, and there are more newspapers and more articles to read on the Internet.
Part of the challenge of reading is deciding what to select from the massive volume of material that is thrust before our eyes everyday: e-mail, Web sites, bulletin boards, newsletters, pamphlets, flyers, books, magazines, newspapers, catalogs and advertisements. We see more information in a day than people a hundred years ago used to see in a whole year.
So how do Pakistani managers meet this challenge? Asif Sheikh the area manger for Lahore at YKK International likes to be informed. “I read newspapers, Time magazine and the trade periodical TKFR.”
Waseem Bukhari, production manager at Six sigma buying house doesn’t have time to read in depth. “I only flip through the newspapers. People who tell you different are probably lying. Most managers don’t have time to read and they don’t make the time either. I don’t read newspapers or technical periodicals, however, I do like to read for pleasure – I read literature. You can learn a lot about life from books. Most managers like reading good literature. I think you do too. I wish there were more libraries in Lahore. I can only think of three – British Council, the American Council and Punjab library. It’s sad. Reading is an important habit. We should cultivate it.”
Zafar Sheikh, CEO of Combined Fabrics, on the other hand makes time for technical reading to get ahead. “ I habitually import books on management and execution of orders. Fortunately, I have relatives in USA who keep sending me best-seller books on the latest developments in the field. I also make time to read technical journals. I have to import them too since they are not available in the local market.”
Raza Ahmed, Senior MM at AMC also likes to read to get ahead. “I read business recorder and business sections of most newspapers. I also like to do my reading on the net too. Unfortunately, there are limited trade journals available in Pakistan and not many are relevant to us so it’s a necessity; I also make a point of reading The Economist and TKFR. For pleasure, I like reading biographies and management books for example, biography of Nike CEO Phil Knight and books by Tom Peters. Books come in handy when you are traveling and in transit.”
Azfar Hassan the CEO of Matrix Sourcing is a prolific reader. He reads everything. “Reading gives you an opportunity to upgrade yourself and become more creative. I like to read on wide range of topics – from spirituality to technical. I like reading. You learn about people and technical developments. I also like to explore all mediums – books, periodicals, the net, audio, and television – the works. The world is changing. We need to adapt. Occasionally I’ll pick a book casually – books teach you a lot about life, you learn to differentiate. My favorite author is John Irving – he writes about life, touches upon issues, subtle stuff. I’ll basically read anything, depends on my mood and schedule.”
Reading research underscores why it’s important to encourage reading for pleasure outside of tutoring or teaching sessions. Some insights from research are: People learn to read by reading. Skill building is important, but without practice putting all the skills together, learning is slowed down, quantity and intensity matter. Frequent practice reading for longer periods of time pays off in fluency and ability to use skills automatically. Increasing competence is motivating and increased motivation leads to more reading. Pleasure reading has cognitive benefits. It improves skill and strategy use, builds fluency, enlarges vocabulary, and builds knowledge of the world.
First published in print edition, The Knit-Xtyle Fashion Review, issue 13, 2006