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December 1, 2019

349 graduates get degrees and advice for a bright future at Greenwich University’s 14th convocation


December 1, 2019

As many as 349 degrees were conferred at the 14th convocation of Greenwich University in Karachi’s Defence Housing Authority (DHA) on Saturday evening.

The degrees included 21 gold medals for Bachelors, Masters, MPhil and PhD programs. The convocation also featured the first-ever batch from the Mauritius Campus of the university with graduates from Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Nepal, Nigeria and Pakistan.

Draped in black gowns with a blue strip and graduation caps perched around their heads, students, along with the proud parents, proudly sat on the back portion of the stage, while the front rows were filled up by guests of honor, who included diplomatic corps, political leaders, dignitaries from the corporate sector, and eminent personalities from all walks of life.

The director administration of the varsity, Saeed Kamal Mughal, and Vice Chancellor Seema Mughal were also present on the stage.

The national anthems of Pakistan and Mauritius were played back to back in the ceremony.

The director of Century Cinemax Group, a company with diverse subsidiaries, including hotels, gyms, entertainment dining, real estate and retail, Shafina Jaffer, who is also an alumnus of the varsity, shared her journey to success with the fresh graduates.

“The word alma mater means nurturing mother and that’s exactly how I feel in the presence of this family- like institution,” she said.

Greenwich was a life-altering and phenomenal experience for her growth in her life. “A university where I broke all the rules,” she laughed and shared how during her MBA she moved to Africa against all odds. “I was on my journey to East Africa. We were broke, we slept on mattress, we had no money, but we had the degree of Greenwich between the two of us,” she said about herself and her husband.

Due to her degree she found a job within the first two weeks of her stay and then she realised in first two months of her job that she was smarter than her boss and quit. She went to her father and borrowed money and shared that with her husband.

“We opened our first business together and everyone told us that we would fail,” she said. “But one thing people did not warn me about was when you work with your husband you can have the director’s meeting even at midnight.”

On the opening night of their first cinema complex, she recalled she made a grand speech in front of hundreds of invitees, highlighting the beauty of her multiplex. Half-an-hour into the movie, the screen went black. “The silence was deafening,” she said and shared how they struggled to get the projector work again. This led to her second speech of announcing how sorry she was due to the technical difficulties and requested guests to leave.

“That was undoubtedly one of the most embarrassing experiences of my life,” she said. Two weeks later the couple opened again with a bigger bang. Now they’re the East Africa’s largest cinema group controlling 80-per cent of the market share.

Jaffer left Greenwich with one degree but later acquired almost 50 certificates from prestigious international institutions. She shared how she used four Ps of marketing she learned at Greenwich: product, price, place and promotion. She added four more Ps to this: perseverance, people, prayer and patience. “Over the past two decades, I have sat with heads of states, hung out with international celebrities and sportsman, study under some of the most accomplished healers, scientists and life coaches and world renowned artists. This is the learning which I had to share with all of you,” she said.

The vice chairperson and group director of courier company TCS, Saira Awan Malick, shared her tale of determination and tenacity. By the time she graduated from Yale with a degree in history, she knew she wanted to be a lawyer.

“Marriage came right after college, but that didn’t derail me,” she said with a smile on her face. She ended up delivering her first child in the middle of her law degree at Cambridge.

“One more child and a few years later I committed myself to working fulltime at an American corporate law firm in London,” she shared and added that those who knew it was tantamount to writing your life off.

In those six years she became a multitasker. “Doing math’s homework during conference calls, planning birthday parties, while marking up term sheets – the list goes on,” she said. At this point, she said that the lure of home became irresistible and she decided to join her family business of TCS-Pakistan, which was built around her father’s vision.

Malick asked the fresh graduates to ask themselves three questions: What do you want to do? Why do you want to do that? How you are going to get there? The what, she said, is the easiest to answer and different to everyone. “It doesn’t matter if you choose to become teachers, lawyers, and bankers or indeed if you choose to stay at home to raise children. These all are equally worthy choices, as long as you bring your ‘A’ game to whatever you do,” she said. “Don’t have a sense of entitlement but focus on earning your place. Whatever you do, be ambitious, aim for the top to get the seat at the table and to shape the conversation.”

As for the second question why anyone does want to get into their chosen field, she said, “Lead a life of purpose not privilege.” When the purpose is defined, one decides themselves, rather than living out someone else’s recycled idea of what one should be doing. “Do what brings you joy,” she said.

Physically challenged Farhat Rasheed, who runs her company ‘Show You Care’ for special people, also spoke at the graduation ceremony. She earned a gold medal in MBA marketing from Institute of Business Administration IBA (IBA).

Chairman Hilton Pharma Group of Companies Dr Sardar Yasim Malik and Group Financial Institution CEO of Habib Metro Bank Dr Siraj Uddin Aziz also spoke at the event.