The Old Guard of Industry | Sahab, Sir, Boss, CEO, Chairman, Head, Member…..

After being away for a host of years from Pakistan and then returning back about Three years ago(full time). The biggest most positive change I saw was 20-30 some thing years olds at Multi-nationals and other large corporations were finally referring to their bosses on a first name basis. Thankfully no more Sir, Sahab, Boss etc at least that’s what it seemed like.

Far from the truth no less, across the industry as a whole. We some how misconstrued respect with ones title, designation and link it to their intellectual status in society. How badly are we mistaken and who is to blame for the ruin of the working class where professionalism has gone down the drain due to the Saith Culture on one hand and the false title inflation culture of corporations on the other hand.

This problem actually has to do with the old guard. Let me explain; I recently met an old friend a good 10 years after high school. She is very well settled but doing some thing professionally I’d never expect some one of her intellect or background to be pursuing. No less she said some thing to me that fit in so well that opened my eyes to why people make the choices they make. Its all about circumstances.

She was introducing me to her family and her husband and I was a little taken aback when I found out her husband had barely even completed high school and then had some vocational qualification, but the cover story was that he ran a textile export group(by virtue of inheritance) that was valued over 300m$. No doubt the gentleman in question was a businessman par excellence and a phenomenal person in his own right.

Knowing my friend to not being the type to marry for money, I asked how this relationship had come about. The answer I got was a the best I’d heard in a while , she said, whilst most of the people who were likely candidates for marriage(from an intellect/education/background /affinity for the same things perspective) had gone abroad for either education or work, her choices were limited to those who either didn’t need to go, or couldn’t. So she picked the one that didn’t need to, as opposed to the ones that couldn’t.

That to me is the old guard, people who have hung around for no special purpose or have continued to outlive the system(s) in place and just happened to either be in industry or got lucky by virtue of timing, presence and happenstance. Their current success or excellence has nothing to do with their skills, neither does their dominance in the sectors where they are considered vanguards or pioneers. What I Value about them is their perseverance.

They were basically hanging around, not knowing any better and filling a vacuum, when most of the real talent got sucked out of the country or didn’t have the ability to compete with respect to un-even allocation of resources, timing, access, family status , social status or business status, these old guard are the ones that made out. Essentially they were well placed societally to take advantage of a system, their fore fathers left them (in the case of the saiths) or in the case of the corporations and their local chiefs (70/80/90s) their principals didn’t know any better, the principals cared only about the bottom line. Minus a few rare instances and people most of these executives who rose from the cadres of these domestic corporate programs essentially stuck around for 2 to 3 decades, in some instance long after the companies had packed up and left. What they were successful in doing, was to get legitimacy from the brands/companies they had represented.

They are still floating around, patting each other on the back, showing up and doing industry events where they give out shields and mementos to each other. For gods, sake we have to put a stop to this. If they really want to contribute, they must retire from the social circus and elevate them selves to genuinely giving back to society. Id love to take names, there are dozens who are doing this, but a greater majority who are not and continue to be involved in the circus, misguiding the youth and rising stars of the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Crushing dreams, one day at a time, with their cynicism and know it all attitude and without the background and wherewithal of what it takes to build and scale enterprises in the year 2015. In a country where 21% if not more of the population is between 15-25 years of age, they need role models from at least within the same decade. Just like packaged consumer goods, CEOs and Saiths from the Old Guard have outlived their shelf life.

They continue to cash in on that association and we continue to hero worship them. We must put an end to this Sahab/Hero worship culture. Whilst we must celebrate true success from every decade gone by, we have to engage and educate our masses to tell the difference between real success and engineered success. We must break the fold of the lingering Mafia of Saiths/CEOs, self appointed vanguards of industry and trade, the know it all’s.

We must start by making sure in our own individual capacity we help guide the rising talent of the industry and level set the playing field. The first thing that can help with that, if you really mean business, drop the Saith or Sahaab in your organizational culture, be a mentor to the ones that need you to mentor them and lead from the front as opposed to hearing from behind. Our people are smarter than this and we OWE our kids a better shot at the future.

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