I was passing by NCR building (Islamabad) yesterday, along with one of my friend who had worked with Mr. Bader ul Islam. He (and me too,I had a chance to see him at couple of occasions) is great admirer of this person who worked for 25 years for it IT industry of Pakistan and left a significant impact on the domain.
His demise, earlier this year is considered as a great loss to Information Technology of Pakistan. May Allah rest his soul in eternal peace.
Following is a tribute to Mr. Bader ul Islam (late) written by his brother Mr. Veqar ul Islam, Country Manager Nokia Handsets.
By: Veqar ul Islam
Bader – My Brother, my Mentor, My role model, my inspiration
Ladies and Gentlemen it is with great pleasure that I invite my brother, my mentor, my inspiration, my role mode – Bader ul Islam to speak on this occasion. This was the typical line I used when we were doing the farewell round for Bader in 1999. This was when he was transferred to head NCR West Africa region after serving as Country Manager for Pakistan for almost 9years. I was so proud and delighted that I am taking over the reigns of NCR from a man who was not just Bhaijaan to me, but who was my boss and the sole reason of how and why I landed in the corporate IT world. It was an incredible coincidence that in 2005 I again handed back the reigns of NCR Pakistan to Bader, when I decided to jump ship and move to the Telecom world.
Bader left us when he was only 58, however, the richness with which he passed his life, the commitment he had to whatever cause he opted for, the way he handled pressure, the way he climbed the ladder of success is simply a fairy tale story. He passed a complete life. As tears roll down my eyes, I will make an attempt to live through some of those moments to motivate all those who will read this humble tribute and to convince them that anyone with passion, hardwork, adherence to right values, humility, focus, family bondings can go places in life. Bader was no ordinary man. He was no ordinary corporate leader either. The story of his life is one that can inspire anyone to take on bigger, higher, greater challenges in life despite all the hurdles, uncertainties and unfairness of life.
Bader was a simple graduate. Even in the 70’s someone with a Bachelor’s degree would not get a half decent job. I remember fairly well that one time Bader was so disgruntled and frustrated with life that he decided to take on the job of a labourer to do some digging work at Shahrah e Faisal in Karachi. Interestingly the day he was about to opt for this, he got a job of a store keeper in a spinning mill which he opted for. However, this surely was not something he would have ever settled for. He wanted a job to get things going in his life and then take one step after the other to keep surprising people. He only worked in the spinning mill for couple of months and then with the help of a friend set up (probably the second of its kind) a Computer Training Institute in Karachi. This lasted for sometime and then he got a job with a Wang distributor in Karachi. A shining career started. Bader always had the potential and was waiting for the right break which he now got with sheer perseverance and persistence. During this time he got married (in 1975) and found one of the finest lady (my beloved Bhabi) to walk shoulder to shoulder to him in this march to progress. He left for Kuwait in 1977 to join Burrough (which subsequently merged to form Unisys) as an Account Manager and continued to ride the success ladder. In 1982 my family met with a major tragedy when my father died. We were all very young and except for one of my sister (who is younger to Bader) who was already married, all other 6 brothers and sisters were studying.
Bader was a family man with strong family values and bondings. He made one of the most shocking decisions to abandon his rising and shining career with Burroughs and took the flight back home. For him to be closer to our Mother and all young brothers and systers was lot more important than the attraction of making money and a career outside Pakistan. The family needed money; however, for him his presence was lot more important. Bear in mind that he was only 33 when this happened. Not an age where you accept such a huge responsibility of becoming a lynchpin for the family and assume the role of a father and a mentor. His faith that he is doing it for all the right reasons and God will reward him with his blessing was close to being unbelievable. Rewarded he was to the full. He got a job with NCR and since then he never looked back. What made him so special to the entire family was the role he assumed to be the father, to be pillar to be the mentor to guide the family to success. The fact that today the family comprises of doctor’s, engineer’s, corporate leaders speaks volumes of how he fulfilled his responsibility in this role. While he helped the family succeed, his own journey of progress continued unabated. Years after years he continued his march and finally in 1989-90 he became the Country head of NCR, a position he held for 9 consecutive years with great success and innovation.
I think it would be only fair for me to say that Bader was the founder of modern day NCR in Pakistan. He would always think out of box. He would always want to be different. He knew that differentiation in today’s world is the key to success and he would think and work tirelessly to position the organization as an innovator and a leader in the IT landscape. He gave so many new concepts to the IT industry of Pakistan that the entire industry subsequently followed his footsteps. From the approach of establishing first of its kind NCR Education Center for students to learn IT, to establishing a Corporate Development Centers for professionals, from initiating Self Service Banking concept in Pakistan to initiating the concept of Open Systems and Industry standards, from organizing first of its kind IT week in the country to initiating IT Excellence Awards, from giving the concept of developing a local self service application to coming up with indigenous solutions which were also adopted within NCR region – he was innovation personified. Besides innovation, Bader’s personal touch was almost unmatched.
It was Bader’s ability to connect with people with consummate ease which also sets him apart from almost the rest of the corporate leaders or other mortals one comes across in life. Many people who have worked with me over the years would be familiar with terms like “What’s up partner”. “ How are you boss”. “Kiya Haal hai Boss” These terms were coined by Bader and I just carried on with them. I realised the power of these statements and thought that using them establishes you in a league where any and everyone you work with or you come across with is able to relate to you. Imagine saying this to a young graduate who is just starting his career. Thiink of the impact on an office boy or a driver when the country head calls him a boss or a partner. To him all humans were equal and he practised this principal to the core. To say that he was humble would be an understatement. To say that humility was completely ingrained and was part and parcel of his personality may just do some justice to the man he was. He was people’s man who would always give his time and attention to any or everyone who would walk into his office or he would come across – the status, the titiles, the background, the stature were all immaterial to him. While he was a schrewed corporate leader, but he always believed in having a benevolent intent in every activity or any decision he made. It is no surprise that he mentored hundreds may be thousands of people during his lifetime and was truly a source of inspiration and motivation for them. He would speak for hours on subjects he liked to talk and will provide examples and explanation which even the most common man would be able to relate. I have seen people sitting in complete awe and amazement when he used to speak and motivate them. He was a natural leader who knew how to lead, how to assume responsibility, how to lead from the front, who knew that leaders need to be compassionate, who knew how to earn respect – in short who was a perfect leader. He was not just a fantastic leader, he was a superb human being.
He was looked up by all and sundry in the family. Not just his immediate family of wife, sons and daughters, but his brothers and sisters and even to the extended family. To us he was a father, the eldest brother, a confidant, a friend, a problem solver,a mentor – someone who was holding everyone together. He was an outstanding son. Not just when my father was alive, but the way he took care of my mother, her needs, her requirements, her emotions, her anger was incredible. It would be every parent’s dream to have a son like Bader. To the extended family he was a role model and someone who would be there when they they need them. Time of the day, who it was, which place, what occasion – it did not matter. If he thought someone needed him he would without thinking twice be with them. He was a great friend. Sincere, committed and trustworthy. His larger then life personality, his inimitable smile, his sheer presence in any event or occasion will bring happiness and smiles to all. The way he used to manage all this despite being a true workaholic was just out of this world. Bader was a courageous man. He went thorough very difficult times in some part of 2005 when he returned from Africa due to a massive heart attack, however, during June to Sept. 2006 his condition really deteriorated.
He fought with this illness and started recovering around the beginning of October 2006. At one time he felt he has played his innings and it is time to take it easy. With this in mind he took early retirement from NCR, however, only after one month he was up and about again. His usual innovative self, his visionary thinking, his commitment to work, the country and the Industry, his passion for excellence, his workaholic nature was at play again. He decided to form his own company with a vision to establish a true Pakistani Corporate entity which has all the ingredients of the finest multinationals in the country. He established touchpoint with this vision and in such a short time was able to lay a solid foundation for this organisation. This was not enough. During this time, despite his fragile health he also took the reigns of Computer Society of Pakistan as the Chairman. No ordinary man would have ever dared to venture into these things knowing fully well that the health was not on his side. However, his will, courage and determination were and these were the key to him. I am not surprised when in many of the condolence messages I received from the IT industry, it is mentioned that he brought a new life to Computer Society of Pakistan. He truly was amongst the pioneer of IT industry of Pakistan and brought a new dimension to this industry.
I had a very very special relationship with Bader. I grew up looking up to him. I always wanted to speak like him, dress like him, smile like him, motivate like him, be with people like him, progress like him, be compassionate like him. Truly I wanted to be his mirror. However, today I realised how miserably I failed for it is impossible for someone like me to even come closer to the greatness of the man Bader was. There can only be one Bader and now he is gone. He was not just my eldest brother. He was a father, a boss, a colleague, a counter part, a friend, a source of inspiration for me. After God’s help and my mother’s prayers, whatever I am today is all because of him. One can never thank God enough to give someone like Bader to groom you in life. The fact that Bader breathed his last in his office after finishing meetings with people just about sums up his commitment to work and to people. All my brothers and sisters believe that we have been orphaned the second time in life. Such was his presence and aura for all of us.
Yes the life will move on. However, it will never be the same without Bhaijaan. You will be greatly missed by your ailing mother, wife, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, cousins, friends, colleagues, competitors and everyone who knew you. I will miss you now and for as long as I live. However, the legacy you have left behind, the Bader doctrine you created, your struggle and subsequent success in life, your humility, your value system will live forever. Yours is a story of someone who almost started as a labourer to the one who reached the peak by heading one of the leading multinational of the country in Pakistan and abroad. You conquered our hearts and our mind. May God rest your soul in peace, May God place you in heaven, may you live as happily in the real world as you did in this mortal world (Amen).