As many of you know, I have recently moved on to consultancy/advisory and training & development services after working for 30+ years in various financial institutions including Bank of America, ABN AMRO, RBS, ETDB (a regional MDB headquartered in Istanbul, Turkey), and HBL. All these years provided me opportunities galore for learning and making a positive difference in ways more than one in diverse areas of responsibility involving controls, service, operational efficiency, strategy, and people development.
I have always been passionate about the work that I have been entrusted with (and more) and will carry the same passion to my new profession. It was not that I had reached the traditional retirement age that propelled me to think about jumping into the consultancy & training practice. Far from that – I had a few years left before my retirement from a position that I enjoyed very much. One of the options that were in my mind was to become a consultant and a trainer after my retirement from the job. A series of recent developments led to “lighting a fire” in me – before I could retire – and after some deliberations with my wife as well as a close circle of friends, ex-colleagues, and even some people who I never knew before, I decided to embark upon a career in consulting and training & development. To be sure, most people (well-meaning though) even discouraged me from pivoting to a new career. However, all said and done, the encouragement of a few people (including my wife Rabiya, and our family friends Saadat Muzaffar, and Tahir Baig Barlas – an HSE consultant himself) outweighed dissuasion by most of the people and, here I am as the “newest kid on the block”!
I may be as excited as a kid to start my new profession but I have the experience, wisdom, and the maturity to be able to add value to various institutions (primarily banks but other institutions too) by providing a slew of services. Anywhere I have worked, it would have been very easy for me to do a 9-5 job daily but my mission everywhere has been to contribute to institution-building and leave a legacy that the organization, especially my team, would always remember fondly. This approach, at times, was not met with reciprocity and there were pockets of resistance which did not dent my resolve, although there were occasional moments of frustration. I have had my share of failures too which enabled me to learn valuable lessons. In sum, I am proud of my humble professional contribution to each of the institutions I have been associated with.
Now is the time for me to share the benefits of my learning and experience spanning 30+ years with the rest of the industry. I have more freedom to not only think but implement out-of-the-box solutions. I have the freedom to have my own working days and hours, not being asked to swipe my employee badge at 9:00 am to avoid being marked late (but not factoring in that I had worked till 3:00 am the preceding day/night). I have the freedom to speak my mind; any consultant who does not do so is doing injustice with their clients, in my humble opinion.
With this background and confidence, I enter the consultancy and training profession. I am brimming with ideas but my priority # 1 in any assignment would be to ensure high quality. For example, the training programs that I lead or conduct would be different in terms of coverage and effectiveness compared to some of the others in the market. This may entail garnering some information and issues of the participants prior to the program and then a follow-up with them post the program. In consultancy too, I would prefer not only to complete a certain assignment and hand it over as a finished product but to educate and work with the client organization to give them tools for the future. I’d like to work with the clients to inculcate a culture of ethics and compliance, for instance. Cultural transformation can take more than a couple of years and I would like to be a long-term partner of the client organizations in this important process.
I have already started teaming up with some other organizations to advance my professional goals. For example, I have co-conducted a two-day course which was led by an ex-colleague who is into consultancy himself. I am scheduled to deliver a two-day course for PSTD (Pakistan Society for Training & Development) in Karachi on April 6 & 7, 2017 on “Compliance Essentials & Business Ethics”. Not only Compliance community but people from Ops, Legal, HR, Relationship Management, etc., would benefit. The enclosed flyer published by PSTD gives the details.
My key areas of expertise include:
- Compliance & Ethics Program/Strategy Design & Implementation.
- Policies Design & Management.
- Corporate Governance.
- Set up or restructuring of Compliance, Ops, HR, Admin, Procurement.
- Performance Measurement for Compliance, Ops.
- Selection of candidates for various functions.
- Training on topics such as, Effective Compliance Program, Business Ethics, 3rd Party/Vendor Risk Management, Fraud Risk Management, Conduct Risk, Reputation Risk and its Management, ORM, CFT, AML, etc.
Regulators, all over the world, are stressing on the robustness and effectiveness of training & development of the staff at all levels. In Pakistan too, the central bank (State Bank of Pakistan – SBP) issued a circular – BPRD # 12 of 2016 – which calls upon the banks to upgrade their training & development program and foster an environment of continuous learning, underscoring that poorly trained employees are a serious operational risk and pose an existential threat to banks. I shall be glad to help the banks and other institutions at the design (or re-design), implementation, and delivery stages of their programs.
While Compliance & Ethics may not have been given the level of importance that they deserve and may even have been regarded as “road blocks” to the achievement of business targets, no bank anywhere in the world can now afford to ignore the critical importance of these areas. The need is to assure the business colleagues of the strategic edge that robust cultures of compliance and ethics provide to their organizations. We have seen many a fine institution fail or losing their reputation due to scandals, breaches of business ethics, non-compliance with regulations, etc. Additionally, penalties to the tune of billions of dollars have been imposed on many of the stalwarts of the global banking industry. We have also learned from the non-financial industry (FMCG, Oil & Gas, Automotive, etc) players who are still trying to recover from their missteps. These disasters could have been averted, had there been strong cultures of ethics and compliance.
Well, let’s see where my destiny takes me as an independent consultant or as part of an already established consultancy along the road. The journey, I’m sure is challenging and exciting and I look forward to enjoying it every bit by playing a role that can make an impact! I shall always be grateful for your encouragement and support.
With warm regards.