Akhtar is an ex-partner at Coopers & Lybrand (now PWC), who has worked in numerous global offices such as London, New York. He was previously the Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer of Dabbagh in Saudi Arabia and co-founded Dabbagh Information Technology with Softbank. Furthermore, He led the privatisation and subsequent acquisition of KESC (K-Electric) and established Pakistan’s first private sector Lenders Club of multilateral (ADB and IFC) and domestic financial institutions (top 5 local banks) for K-Electric. He served as Director and Chairman Executive Committee of K-Electric. Prior to this, he performed duties as the CEO of KASB Group Pakistan – a joint venture with Merrill Lynch and Executive Director of KASB Bank, Security House and Mutual Funds. Akhtar has closed some of the most difficult M&A transactions, globally valued at over $3 billion.

Other major assignments include AT&T divestiture, litigation work at World Court and M&A advisory to Savola Group. Akhtar is a Fellow Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants (England & Wales as well as Pakistan) and has vast experience in transforming and turbo-charging institutions worldwide. Presently, he is Chairman of Concilium & Co (www.conciliumco.com) and CEO of Ramz Capital.(www.ramzcapital.com)

Career and Life

My life and career has been driven by two main drivers:

  • “Zero-Based Thinking”: when one looks at each day with a new perspective and plans their actions accordingly. Here one’s history is a part of their memory, serving as guidance, but is not a driver of daily actions.
  • To explain this further we can draw comparisons between the following three concepts of thinking.
    • Incremental Thinking. This mindset entails an increase in achievement, measured against one’s last performance, whether that is big or small. This thinking is limiting and thus is doomed in the competitive world.
    • Out of Box Thinking. This is based on dreams rather than weighing a situation with one’s ground realities and so chances of success here are minimal.
    • Zero-based thinking. Here one’s dreams match one’s ground realities and actions are adjusted accordingly, resulting in a greater and more secured growth multiplier.
  • Another driver in my life is my belief and practice of humanity (Insaniyat) and my belief in the Oneness of God (Wahdanayt). Everything in life revolves around these two beliefs, which are repeatedly emphasized in the Quran, by Allah. Any deviation from this would lead to shirk and inhumane behavior. In my view, every action in life, good or bad, follows from these core values.

Highlights of my career

  • Becoming a Partner in Coopers and Lybrand (now PWC) at a young age.
  • Overseeing the AT&T Divestiture; Breakup of AT&T into 7 Baby Bells, which also provided me insight into The American Corporate Culture/World.
  • Three years of litigation work with The World Court, Hague. Working on claims and counterclaims between an Iranian Oil Company and a Consortium of 14 international oil companies. The best part of this assignment was understanding the workings of the World Court and working with the best economic and legal brains of the world.
  • Privatization of Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC and now K-Electric) and managing it for 3.5 years. This gave me an insight into Pakistan, encompassing the complex politics, economic structures, trade unions and more!
  • After taking semi-retirement, I retrained myself in FX and Commodity trading. This means spending most mornings, after Fajr and a peaceful walk in Hyde Park, on Bloomberg and trading. The rest of the day is mostly spent following up on family, friends and other social projects. I quite enjoy the fact that I am able to control the choice of activities I will do with my time.

A Significant Hurdle I faced

The biggest hurdle I have faced is discrimination. Irrespective of country, race, ethnicity, sex etc. one almost always faces discrimination in every country. One must recognize this and fight, for both one’s personal growth and the growth of society. A crucial way to do this is to prove others biases incorrect by succeeding and essentially not letting it demoralize you.

Advice To Others

My advice is to follow the drivers I presented earlier: Wadhanyat, Insanyat and Zero-Based Thinking. Consequently, you will be rewarded by both the Allah and the world. Moreover, every action should have an impact on the human and spiritual wellbeing, which is only possible when activities are guided by healthy reasoning, a healthy mind and intellect.