An entrepreneur reveals the secret of continuous growth and success
CS’s growth is a testament to continuous innovation and visionary leadership. Starting with a single delivery vehicle, its fleet has grown to include air, sea and land transport and is supported by a wide network of warehousing facilities, including temperature-controlled vehicles and storage for heat-sensitive parcels, e-commerce and CSR projects.
It also has a TIR licence for regional trade.
Khalid Awan, the founder and chairman of TCS, willingly shares the stories of his early days in business; what did not work and what did. It’s a fascinating journey and he describes it with great excitement. He mentions sitting in a Harvard classroom where the TCS story was taken up as a case study. He says that was the second time he felt that his work had been truly substantial. The first was when he saw a smile on a client’s face following a timely delivery during the early days.
“The fact that the TCS saga has become a case study at the Harvard Business School is as much a testament to the success of the firm as it is a recognition of Khalid Awan’s extraordinary capabilities. Few other Pakistani enterprises and corporate leaders have been similarly honoured. This makes Khalid’s fellow citizens doubly proud, though the laudable success of the firm is specific to its sector,” says filmmaker-politician Javed Jabbar.
Khalid believes in ‘authentic leadership.‘ He prioritises people, strategy, leadership and employer branding. He has worked for the company to not only become a benchmark in a long-term vision, value-enriched environment, professional excellence and innovation but also to be known as an incubator for future leaders. He is always on the lookout for new, ambitious plans. That is perhaps why TCS grew from a handful of employees and 25 shipment orders on day one to a company of 12,000+ employees with an international footprint, handling 130 million shipments annually.
For Khalid, integrity, insight and inclusivity are the guiding principles; leadership means growth, individually as well as for the company. It must create relevance and targets for everyone associated with the firm with a growth trajectory. That is why we hear proud proclamations from many of TCS’s senior team members, of humble beginnings in the company and a journey from couriers and junior managers to C-Suite executives. They are not only emotionally connected to the company but also empowered and qualified to take quick decisions on account of their thorough understanding of how things work at various levels in the company.
Khalid Awan says that leadership succession can be the most crucial event in the life of a company: a make-or-break event for an already developed system and structure. Naturally, new leaders bring their own unique perceptions and understandings. They can also bring innovative ideas that are in greater sync with the present and the future. Aligning them with the company’s needs requires insight, compassion and commitment. Policies will change, procedures will get updated, and people may come and go – the company must continue to evolve, change and adapt as a living being. He is confident about his children, Saira Awan and Qasim Awan, taking lead roles. Experience and business acumen aside, he is sure of their taking the ethos of the company into the future. His senior team will provide the necessary support.
For Khalid, integrity, insight and inclusivity are the guiding principles. Leadership means growth, individually as well as for the company.
“Selecting Uzbekistan as a destination for regional trade was a game-changing decision for me.” Khalid says. He says he has great faith in the business corridors linking Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Central Asian Republics. As the first company to get the Transports Internationaux Routiers (TIR) or International Road Transport licence in Pakistan, TCS is on the road to becoming a significant contributing partner to regional prosperity by enabling Pakistan’s utilisation of its economic channels.
With a strong focus on 21st Century challenges of gender diversity, inclusion and innovation, Khalid has taken TCS to the next level through new initiatives and continuous development, adapting to the new dynamics of entrepreneurship and trade. The organisation can now consolidate its leadership position in the market by adopting global paradigms of employee well-being and corporate excellence and be a great ambassador for Pakistan.
On the professional development front, Awan has introduced summer internships, hiring of management training officers, and ‘rising star’ initiatives to find the best talent. He has expanded the value-oriented horizons into CSR, with education for the underprivileged and for children with special needs. Realising the value of public speaking as integral to learning, he pioneered the establishment of debate forums for schools, such as Hyde Park Juniors, preceding the Model United Nations and parliamentary debate fervour by a decade.
Khalid Awan‘s vision has enabled TCS to continue its value-rich approach towards professional excellence and nation-building. The latest projects are being undertaken with all the enthusiasm of their very first mission statement and the farsightedness of the initial vision for steady growth and expansion through innovation. The TCS mission supports a strong connection with each Pakistani and Pakistan’s connection with the world across frontiers, promoting people-to-people contact and business opportunities. Awan concludes the conversation with a quote from Sigmund Freud; “Out of your vulnerabilities will come your strength.”
He explains, “Every time I failed, I got up to rise higher; my failures shaped the route to success. The journey from here onwards may have the foundation of 40 years, but the challenges are stronger in terms of competition and global outreach. It remains to be seen whether the company continues with the historical trend of continuous innovation or adopts a new strategy to stay ahead of the game.”
The writer is an educationist, a content developer and a public speaker. She can be reached at @shahajamshed