Fostering ‘Next-Gen’ Leaders

Insights from a conference at Iqra University
By: Filza Rizwan
In an endeavour to nurture entrepreneurial spirit and empower aspiring leaders, Iqra University hosted a remarkable conference titled “NextGen Leaders” on June 8, 2023. The event witnessed the participation of enthusiastic students and esteemed faculty members from Iqra University. The conference aimed to activate the industry’s support for the next generation of leaders and offered invaluable insights on starting a business from scratch. With distinguished speakers and panellists from diverse industries, the event proved to be an enriching platform for learning, inspiration, and growth.
The conference commenced with a motivating speech by Raeda Latif, the Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer at the Pakistan Stock Exchange. Ms. Latif interacted with the students, sharing her knowledge and expertise on how to initiate a successful business venture. “If you have a brilliant idea to solve a problem, it gives you a reason to start a business,” she said while addressing the students.
Moreover, she shed light on the intricacies of investing in the Pakistan Stock Exchange, encouraging the audience to explore this avenue for financial growth. She maintained that whenever a startup wants to expand their business, they go to the stock exchange or a private investor. She also explained to the students about equity vs. debt and entrepreneurship opportunities in Pakistan.
After Ms. Latif’s speech, there was an insightful panel discussion featuring prominent industry leaders, including Madiha Alvi, the Head of Brand Management at Summit Bank Limited, who moderated the panel and shared valuable insights on building and managing a strong brand presence. Aaqib Sayed, the Head of Growth at TPL Maps, emphasised the role of innovation and technology in driving business growth. Sami Qahar, the Project Head at Philip Morris International and CEO at Stimulus Productions Worldwide, discussed the importance of adaptability and resilience in the face of challenges. Syed Azfar Hussain, the Project Director at the National Incubation Centre, shared his experiences in nurturing startups and providing entrepreneurial support.
According to Mr. Sayed, the two major components of launching a business are starting small and doing your research right.
Mr. Qahar, while continuing Sayed’s statement, asked the students, “Why do you want to become an entrepreneur? Are you trying to become an entrepreneur because you want to be cool, or are you fed up with your boss? Or do you really want to build something on your own?”
Speaking about taking risks, he maintained that if one just wants to earn money and has an idea in mind, one should take the risk. “If you have the fear of failure, then that risk is everywhere, not just in a business. The risk of failure is there in a 9-to-5 job as well,” said the project head at Philip Morris International. “The greater the risk, the greater the startup,” he added.
While explaining the definition of a startup, Mr. Hussain said, “Highly scalable and usually innovative tech businesses are known as startups.”
One of the students from the audience asked the panellists, “What should be the first step if one wants to build a successful startup company? Mr. Hussain replied, “You can start with passive income as a startup. You can do freelancing and build your own clients before starting a business.”
According to Mr. Qahar, one needs to have a long-term ideology. “What is the purpose of that startup? Think about the usefulness of your business, and how long will your startup survive?”
After the panel discussion was over, a young entrepreneur, Batool Aamir, the Founder of Oval, spoke about her inspiring entrepreneurial journey. She took the stage and shared her personal journey of overcoming challenges while establishing her business. Her story resonated with the audience, highlighting the grit, determination, and perseverance required to succeed as an entrepreneur. “Entrepreneurship is a marathon, just like cricket; it’s a long-term strategy,” she said.
The underlying aim of the conference was to empower the next generation of leaders in career planning and entrepreneurial endeavours. By providing hands-on experiences with senior industry leaders, the conference equipped the attendees with practical knowledge and insights. The event facilitated a platform where participants could learn about future trends, exchange innovative ideas, and discuss extraordinary growth experiences.
The NextGen Leaders conference held at Iqra University proved to be an exceptional event that left an indelible impact on the students and faculty members of the entrepreneurship department. With industry leaders sharing their expertise and experiences, the conference offered a wealth of knowledge on starting a business and succeeding in today’s competitive landscape. By nurturing an environment of collaboration and learning, the event successfully inspired and empowered the students of Iqra University.