Remembering a visionary

Ali Suleman Habib has left his imprint on several industries in Pakistan, particularly the automobile sector

According to John Maxwell: “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” Ali Suleman Habib exemplified all three.

On April 17, with the demise of Mr Habib, Pakistan lost one of its finest business leaders.

He was a visionary who shaped up the entrepreneurial and industrial landscape in Pakistan.

From automobiles to packaging, from banking to ceramic tiles and from food retail to education, Ali S Habib has left his mark on many industries.

With his departure, the country has lost a visionary business leader who was passionate, focused and entrepreneurial as well as a life-long learning enthusiast.

He touched the lives of all those he worked with during his career. He will be missed for his great presence, which commanded immediate respect; for the immense wisdom he brought to every discussion; for constantly challenging the status quo; for always striving for perfection; for not believing in the word ‘impossible’; for his remarkable analytical mind; and above all for being a truly remarkable human being.

Habib devoted a large part of his career to building a conglomerate spanning business interests ranging from automobiles to auto-parts, ceramic tiles to packaging materials, property management to building material; and the energy sector amongst others. Under his leadership, the House of Habib (HoH) grew into a diverse portfolio of companies.

He started his career with Baluchistan Laminate which launched the famous fomite brand and then went on to manage Thal Jute which now employs 4,000 people. It has now grown into one of the largest and finest jute mills of Pakistan. He was the brains behind bringing MAKRO to Pakistan – one of the largest food retail chains in the world. The initiative culminated in a successful joint venture with eight stores nationwide.

He also contributed towards the growth and expansion of Shabbir Tiles and Pakistan Paper, which has now grown and diversified into food and retail packaging along with cement, which is its flagship product range.

However, his watershed contribution came in transforming the automobile industry in Pakistan. Habib was the pioneering force behind the joint venture with Toyota – the largest global automobile brand.

His watershed contribution came in the form of transforming the automobile industry in Pakistan. Habib was the pioneering force behind the joint venture with Toyota – the largest global automobile brand. Under his iconic leadership, Indus Motor Company grew into one of the finest corporations of the country.

Through his iconic leadership, unwavering support and hard-work, Indus Motor Company grew into one of the finest corporations of the country. This did not stop him from venturing further into the automobile sector of the country. In fact, it proved a stepping stone for him to enter the auto-part manufacturing industry of Pakistan. With his sheer zeal and entrepreneurship spirit he founded three auto-part companies which now cater to a majority of the auto-parts demand across Pakistan.

It will thus not be an overstatement to call him the father of automobile development in Pakistan. It was through his efforts that Pakistan joined the league of 40 automobile producing nations in the world. His core philosophy was “Make in Pakistan.” He campaigned restlessly to promote the local engineering base in the country.

Habib’s business acumen and foresight led him into a lifelong belief in the power of strong partnerships. The group’s energy investments are a testimony to the fact. With his philosophy of creating positive impact across Pakistan, Habib contributed towards the Thar dream and became part of Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC). He also setting up a joint venture for construction of a 330MW coal-fired plant.

Habib gave a lot of his time to social welfare and was a stalwart supporter of education in Pakistan.

Despite his busy schedule he always found time to mentor the young.

His philanthropic goals were lofty. He remained personally attached to many social causes such as the Chanesar Goth Girls School and AURA. He participated in many other philanthropic activities in his capacity as member of the Board of Governors of Habib Public Schools, and Habib University. He also acted as a trustee on various social initiatives of the group which included Mohammedali Habib Welfare Trust; Habib Education Trust; and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Programme.

He also remained on the Board of Governors of Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust.

Ali Habib had a profound effect on the world outside the House of Habib. His last six months were spent advising the government of Pakistan on commerce, industries and trade. He was working closely with the prime minister on increasing the country’s exports.

His love for the outdoors and his passion for climbing mountains resonated with his personality. They say the most humbling part is the sense of accomplishment you get after climbing a mountain.

Amongst his many adventures were a climbing expedition to Mount Kilimanjaro. His last was to Mount Fuji. According to him, one had to be focused and determined to finish the climb which he did on a heavily overcast day with one of his friends.

No words can adequately express the sadness felt by thousands of people who had known him on learning of Ali Habib’s passing away. The House of Habib has lost a visionary leader and the world an amazing human being.

Those who worked with him have lost a friend and an inspiring mentor. He will forever live in many hearts and many will honour his memory by dedicating themselves to advancing his legacy.

Remembering the visionary Ali Suleman Habib