The second International Conference on Business Management (ICoBM) 2012 organized by the University of Management and Technology (UMT), at its purpose-built campus, got off to an impressive start today with over 150 presenters and corporate speakers in attendance. In the inaugural speech, Sardar Muhammad Latif Khosa, Governor Punjab and Patron UMT, said that we were once the pioneers in research and development but have now receded to the backbenchers. He said that maturity of political thinking and continuity of policy is required for economic stability. He said that we are committed to meeting the Millennium Development Goals. We are a nation of 190 million + plus and two thirds of our population is below 30 years. Half of our population is below 25 years of age. This is a huge demographic dividend but it has to be channelized in a constructive manner for nation building by the universities and academia. The Governor pointed out that Pakistan will need 36 million new jobs in the next few years. Universities have to produce job creators, not job seekers. Entrepreneurial skills need to be inculcated in our university graduates.

The Governor congratulated Dr Hasan Sohaib Murad, Rector UMT and Patron of the ICoBM 2012 for taking the timely step to organize the conference. He also felicitated UMT for recently becoming the first and only university in the Punjab to have received the Four Star W4 status and the highest category by the HEC. He said that the powerful thematic structure of the ICoBM 2012 conveys a powerful message to all.

The Governor added that universities are breeding grounds for ideas. In a globalized word, where cultures and ideologies are in a flux, it is no longer possible to thrive in isolation. What is required is a new order of things. Quoting the management guru Peter Drucker, he said that change is unavoidable adaptation to change is a constant struggle for survival. The Governor stressed collaboration between all stakeholders of the growth sectors. He said that applied R & D culture in the country is still in infancy in Pakistan. Universities can be employed in fostering this culture. He said that the vision of the government is not limited to science and technology alone. Social sciences play a great role in any society. Bereft of morality, science and technology becomes barbaric. He urged everyone to remember this distinction. He said that the government must guarantee freedom of ideas and information, dialogue and discussion. He concluded his address by quoting the Quaid-i-Azam who had pledged the creation of a socially just economic system way back in 1949 while laying the foundation of the State Bank building.

It may be noted that the conference is being organized by UMT in association with the Institute of Administrative Sciences (IAS), Punjab University, Lahore, Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Sukkur, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (UVAS), Association of Management Development Institutions in Pakistan (AMDIP), The News, and the Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan. The theme of the conference is "Business, Society, Science and Technology". 
Dr Ishrat Husain, Chief Guest of the ICoBM 2012, Dean and Director, IBA Karachi, Chairman AMDIP, said that the conference theme is critical to the success and development of Pakistan. He presented a sketch what is going on in the rest of the world. He identified the following major trends.

  1. The economic balance of power is shifting from the US, Europe and Japan to the Asian countries. In the near future, 70% growth is expected to come from emerging economies, 40% from China alone.
  2. Management of both renewable and non-renewable resources is going to assume great importance in the coming years. How the world feeds its 3 billion consumers in the coming years is important.
  3. The extent of the useful insight gained from the financial crises will determine the future course of events. The perception of market self correction brought many Western economies to grief during the financial crisis.
  4. The information explosion, Internet, and connectivity has led to huge complexities in economic data analysis. In 2005, 150 billion gigabytes of data were created. This year that figure has arisen to 1200 gigabytes. Business are beginning to be transformed by this data deluge.

Touching upon the significance of these trends in the Pakistani context, former Governor State Bank of Pakistan, Dr Ishrat said there is too much emphasis on short term goals. This myopic approach weakens competitive edge of businesses. There is exclusive emphasis of maximizing value for shareholders but in reality all stakeholders i.e. government, suppliers, consumers, etc. are important. Thirdly, the concept of single bottom line i.e., profit maximization, needs to give way to treble bottom line after addition of social and environmental measures. A company thriving in the midst of poverty is not doing well on performance indicators. Businesses not anchored in ethical practices pay the cost. It is only those CEOs who practice what they preach who actually win accolades. So the gap between rhetoric and practice needs to be reduced. Dr Isharat said that we need to invest heavily in technology. Some of the best developed nations have invested heavily in youth and in science, mathematics and engineering. This is something that needs to be addressed. In Karachi university, there is declining enrolment in science and engineering whereas the arts, social sciences, commerce and management are thriving. In Lahore there are 30 business schools but only three universities are teaching science and engineering.

Delivering the keynote address, Dr Nadeem ul Haque, Deputy Chairman Panning Commission, said that research is seldom appreciated in Pakistan and education itself has become a bureaucracy. Sharing his life experiences, he said that conferences provide opportunities to learn, network and share ideas with others. All over the world, conferences are dominated by professional economists. He said that people often ask what are the greatest challenges facing Pakistan but the reality is that we face problem of lack of ideas. As a country, we are not meeting our Millennium Development Goals, we have not grown for the past four years and at best we have experienced stopgap growth in our history. So the real question is what keeps us back.

Dr Nadeem ul Haque said that every country has the capacity to grow. Our current thinking is steeped in the building phase – if we have enough projects, if we build roads and bridges, then we would achieve so much. This development paradigm can be best understood if we realize that nations succeed because they build institutions, accept research, respect the scientific method and learn from the rest of the world. This Dr Nadeem termed as the software of growth as opposed to our current practice of emphasizing hardware of growth. Sharing the economic model of growth developed by the Planning Commission, he said that it was realized that we need to manage resources better.

He enumerated the following four points of the growth model:

  1. Quality management of public assets is essential for growth and prosperity.
  2. We need open markets. At present, our markets are too much in favor of the big guys.
  3. Growth happens in creative societies. Our cities are elite housing enclaves and are not open to commerce and industry.
  4. We need to invest more in our youth and community. Our cities lack infrastructure and our youth have no space. He said that in every country, world academics lead policy and as such we need a reform agenda. It is your task to challenge the prevailing setup and it is our challenge to manage our human resources efficiently and productively.

Earlier, Dr Hasan Sohaib Murad, Rector UMT welcomed the distinguished guests to the 2nd ICoBM 2012. He thanked Dr Nadeem for sharing the new framework of the Planning Commission. He added that the insight provided by Dr Ishrat into the workings of the global economies is invaluable. Dr Hasan Murad said that the 2nd ICoBM 2012 aims to bring together academia, business and government to collaborate with a team spirit. He said that the agenda of the conference rests with the leadership. It is the leadership that strategizes for change. He thanked the 150 + presenters for attending the event and said that he is looking forward to two days of deliberation, discussion, discourse, and meaningful idea exchange.

The conference was attended by a large number of dignitaries, educationists, intellectuals, business executives, government representatives, and public policy makers, representatives of the corporate world and students of business schools. The academic and corporate sessions of the ICOBM 2012 will continue for two days, concurrently in five separate seminar halls, and as the conference will conclude tomorrow evening, i.e., March 29, 2012.Read more...


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