5 Challenges for Designing your Professional Lives

Faculty, Parents and my dear students:

As I look at your beaming faces full of hope and aspirations and great expectations of your future after four years of university life, I first invite you to try to soak in this environment of this marvelous infrastructure at IoBM. You are sitting in the building which is name after the founder president of this institute Mr Shahjehan S Karim who left for the hereafter two years ago. This campus, which is spread over 10 acres and consists of several buildings like this one, is a concrete realization of the dream of Mr Shahjehan S Karim, who envisioned IoBM to be one of the the leading institutions, nationally and internationally, renowned for its contribution to education and society. Please note that he envisioned this around 25 years ago in 1994, after he had retired from a long illustrious service with the government! Mind you, the age of 60 is the time when most think of retiring and folding up their lives with reading or writing. SSK starting a new professional endeavor and working vigorously into his 80s should be an inspiration for all of us. If he can envision such a grand project at 60 and bring it to realization over the next 20+ years, you can also dream big and work for its realization. You have much more time and energy, you are in your youthful late teens and early 20s. You are about to embark on your professional life. You too can create a similar vision and work for its realization over the rest of your life. As I say this, I am reminded of my start, some 40 years ago at NED in early 1980. For me those last 40 years have passed within a blink of an eye. I wish my professional education would have started with a concrete inspiration like this vision. But, as Mr Shehjehan S Karim’s life tells us, it is never too late. [Sep 7, 2019 Orientation for Fall 2019 Intake at IoBM]

You are living in an exciting era filled with monumental challenges.

21st Century Challenges of the Information Age

This is an age of information technology where all things are getting digitized. Encyclopedia are digitized, newspapers are digitized, books are digitized, historical documents, paintings, pictures, manuscripts are being digitized, all kinds information in all types of media, from generation to production to dissemination, are now digitized. Movies are digitized, telephones are digitized, sound is digitized, all forms of communications are digitized. Services are digitized, manufacturing is digitized, production and business is digitized. It is now the turn of people; our friends are digitized, and our relationships are digitized. We now make friends with a click and unfriend them with a click. Our memories, our thinking and even our emotions are being digitized. Every aspect of our life is digitized and very soon we would be unable to distinguish between our real existence and our virtual digitized existence.

Businesses and people who fail to envision themselves as digitized entities are doomed. You can not fight the pervading influence of technology in your lives. There is no other option but to harness this technology and make it your ally in your growth and existence. You have been registered in a digitized learning management system courses and you and your faculty members would be embarking on learning to live in this digitized world of flipped classrooms and blended learning.

Economic Challenges and Adding Value to Society

A developing country like Pakistan is entangled under the global forces unleashed by super-powers rivalry, their quest for economic subjugation of resources, and technological superiority. There are challenges emanating from transformation of traditional economy into digital economy and rich-poor divide. Top one percent of world’s population owns wealth which is as much as the 50% of the entire world. Big conglomerate corporations which use the clout of super-powers to further their interests unleashing environmental degradation. 80% of consumer trade and industry is controlled by only 10 mega corporations. The climate change is threatening to devastate world economy and is feared to be reaching irreversible stage of recovery.

We are in the worst time of economic woes with several economic issues which are at the macro as well as micro level. Coupled with global challenges are our own local challenges which are rooted in the sociology of our culture that has only recently transitioned from colonial era. We are a post-colonial state which under neo-colonial subjugation. Our businesses and our institutions are still not strong enough to act independently. We are in recession, with faltering growth, rising unemployment, inflation and slow down of industry which is now impacting large sectors of economy and impacting the society.

Our social gatherings, drawing rooms, office cafeterias are often replete with the discussion of doom and gloom. One way to see these news of gloom and doom is to become a pessimist and think about running away from the problems to greener pastures. But, this is defeatist approach. Avoid this. Please think of adding value to the society by working on converting the problems into opportunities.


The only way to come out of this doom and gloom economic situation is to become job creator and not a job seeker. Job creator is an entrepreneur who starts up a new enterprise and then grows it into a formidable corporation. The journey from startup to a small enterprise of around 30 employees, to a medium enterprise of up to 300 million yearly revenues and from Medium enterprise to a large enterprise.

Typically an entrepreneur starts with a unique value proposition as embodied in the entrepreneurial idea. The idea’s origin is simple. Typically we see problems as insurmountable barriers. We need to change our lens and start viewing them as opportunities. Every problem can become an opportunity if we think sufficiently creatively. Quality Education is a big problem in Pakistan. Mr Shahjehan S Karim converted the problem into an opportunity. This became the genesis of IoBM. Quality health is another huge problem of Pakistan. Dr Abdul Bari Khan converted this problem into an opportunity through the network of Indus Hospitals around the country which are providing absolutely free treatment to all the patients. There are scores of such examples.

Dear Students, I would like you to ponder and think closely on the problem that most emotionally disturbs you. This is an opportunity for you. Turn this problem into an opportunity by finding an innovative and creative solution. The innovation is in creation of a differentiation that no one else offers. The process requires innovation and creativity:

Innovation and Creativity

The need for innovation and creativity has increased tremendously because of the increasing rate information generation, and the economic and environmental challenges. By 1900 existing knowledge was doubling in a century. By 1945 the rate of doubling of knowledge was 25 years. Today human knowledge is doubling every 13 months. It is soon going to be doubling every 12 hours. With this tremendous increase in the rate of growth, the need for new ideas to manage this information and convert them into product of value has increased tremendously.

Generation of a new idea is called the “Aha! Experience” as the one felt by Archimedes when he lowered himself in the bath tub and the water spilled out, and he ran without clothes shouting Eureka, Eureka (I have found it). Discovery of a new connection is also sometimes described as a result of lateral thinking through which ideas from different disciplines and areas are joined together to create new ideas as promoted by Edward De Bono. The challenge is to generate ideas through critical thinking that can add value to the society positively. There are good ideas and then there are bad ideas. Of course people do produce bad ideas which create further problems for the society. However, these bad problems are yet again opportunities for others to solve them through creative processes.

Critical Thinking and Analysis

Art of creative thinking requires moving out of silos and thinking across multiple dimensions and multiple disciplines. It is the ability to critique a phenomenon through multiple perspectives that span across conventional subject boundaries. Underlying each problem is a fundamental assumption that we take for granted. Many a times an assumption is so pervasive that we do not even realize that it is an assumption. We accept its presence as self evident fact and truth. The challenge of critical thinking is to identify the latent assumptions and then challenge them. This often requires going out of the box and challenging the assumption from a different field or discipline. Indus Hospitals mission to provide quality health care absolutely free of cost to patients was one such idea. Dr Bari challenged the assumption that patients or government must pay for the service. He challenged this assumption from the field of altruistic motives of people who would give rather take.

There are various modes of thinking or paradigms of thinking. People are often experts one or two of these and live their lives in these modes and not challenging them through other modes of thinking that may exist. These modes of thinking include: 

  • Philosophical/rational modes of Thought
  • Data analytic/AI modes of Analysis
  • Psychological modes of analysis 
  • Social Constructivist modes of analysis
  • Historical Analysis
  • etc 

IoBM has introduced and would be making changes in curricula to develop these critical modes of thinking.

Learning and Experiential Learning

Humans for ever have been learning by doing and learning by experience. We learned to walk through experiential learning. We learned to talk through experiential learning. The number of things that we learn through observation, experience, trial and error is far greater than the learning that we get through sitting in lectures. Challenge of education today is to make teaching and learning so engaging and interesting that the students would themselves dig deeper and deeper into knowledge through trial and error. New learning environments enable the students with different learning styles to learn through various media and simulations.

Holistic learning: Real life issues do not come neatly compartmentalized into subjects. They span subject and discipline boundaries. It was only for ease of instruction and administration convenience for teaching that knowledge was arbitrarily classified into boundaries known as subjects.  With today’s tools and technologies, teachers as well as students can traverse the hyperlinks through which a topic may be connected to various disciplines and However, knowledge can not be divided into subjects any more.

Dear Students: Please don’t limit your study by saying that such and such subject is not my specialization or is irrelevant to my degree or career. Every thing in the world in connected with every thing else. There are connections every where. Making these connections is reflection. Today neurology and computers have come together. Robotics and anatomy are now interconnected. Marketing is connected with sociology through social networks. Politics and international relations are connected through social networks. Each subject is connected with every other subject. It is these multi-disciplinar connections that have led to the explosion of knowledge. 

Historically IQ was thought to be comprising of the typical categories found in the GRE or SAT tests; namely verbal intelligence, quantitative and analytical intellgience. Today these are classified in multiple intelligences as per Howard Gardner.

Introspection and Intra-personal intelligence relates to reflection on the connections. Your connection with universe, with your community, with other communities, with other nations. Connections with plants and environment. Connections with things. Exploring and observing these connections and your mood and emotions is known as emotional intelligence.

Interpersonal Intelligence: Ability to make friends. I always give this advice. When you graduate, your mobile should have at least 400 contacts. 200 from your batch mates, 100 from seniors and 100 from juniors. These should not just be contacts that have been uploaded from some list on to your phones. These should be those whom you consider as friends. By friends I mean someone who has invited you for a meal and you have taken that person for some meal.

Participation in societies is an extremely important form of learning and stimulating such friendships. These interpersonal skills are those that will help you in coping with the challenges in your life. Participation in physical sports activities such as games, excursions, adventures and hiking constitute physical intelligence. Musical intelligence is another form of intelligence that is visible through poetry, chants, recitations and songs.Spatial intelligence is linked to architecture, painting, photography and visualizations. Real life projects provide opportunities for developing these skills.

See Also other Orientation Speeches

Why Education and Why Higher Education

What is the Purpose of Education; What does it mean to be well educated and what is our mission; What is Higher Education; What is Impact can you create; What Impact on Society; What Impact on Industry and Economy; What should be your personal Impact
Here is the detailed presentation: Why Education and Why Higher Education: Leadership in Life and SocietyOrientation for Fall 2014 intake at IoBM on Sept 8, 2014

Six Trends that will Determine your Career Success in the 21st Century

Shortening of Life Cycle of Organizations and Businesses; From Life-Long Employment to Short-Term Engagements; From Teaching to Learning; From Knowledge Acquisition to Enterprising Creativity and Innovation; From Management to Leadership; From Choosing a Career Vision to Choosing your Purpose; 

Here is the detailed presentation: 6 Trends that will Determine your Career Success in the 21st CenturyPresented at the Orientation for Fall 2015 intake at IoBM on Sep 5, 2015

Youth Leadership and Dave Ulrich – Orientation for University Students

Do I Know what I Want from life? What is my Vision? Career and Scope; Liberate yourself from the Prison of the name of your Degree Program; Inter connectivity of the world allows you to connect from any discipline to any other discipline; From Career to your Vision
Who do I serve? What is my Mission and Purpose of Life? Reflection; Think of People who are Not as Privileged; Social Leadership; How do I build a better place than what I have experienced? Which Skills do I need to acquire? Optimism
Life Long Learners and Skills that You Need to Acquire; Communication Skills, Reading Skills, Writing Skills, Communication and Networking Skills

Here is the detailed presentation: Youth Leadership and Dave Ulrich-Orientation for University StudentsOrientation for Fall 2016 intake at IoBM on Sep 3, 2016

How to become a Life-Long Learner: Mission of Developing Life-Long Learners

Pursuit of Excellence vs Guzara; How to Discover your Inner-Calling ; Experiential Learning and Reflection; How to become a reader and How to become a writer;

How to become a Life-Long Learner: Mission of Developing Life-Long Learners
Orientation for Fall 2017 intake at IoBM on Aug 26, 2017

How to be a Change Leader and a Job Creator

Case Study of IoBM and Mr Shahjehan S Karim; Being Proactive; How to Change Behavior of Others: By Changing Yourself; Expanding Your Circle of Influence; Your Network of Friends; Organizational Effectiveness and Change Agents; Job Creation and Entrepreneurship
Reading and Observation; From Reading to Writing

Orientation for Fall 2018 intake at IoBM on Sep 1, 2018

5 Challenges for Designing your Professional Lives

21st Century Challenges of the Information Age; Economic Challenges and Society; Entrepreneurship; Innovation and Creativity; Critical Thinking and Analysis; Learning and Experiential Learning

See the detailed presentation:   5 Challenges for Designing your Professional Lives

Orientation for Fall 2019 intake at IoBM on Sep 7, 2019

See Also: 


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