Expert Interview - Mr. Zahid Rafiq, CEO HRL, Pakistan


Expert Interview - Mr. Habib Rafiq, CEO HRL, Pakistan

Habib Rafiq (Pvt.) Limited has become a trendsetting company in the ever expanding arena of housing and infrastructure sector of Pakistan in the ten years. Habib Rafiq Group came into being around six decades ago and has been fulfilling the customers' requirements both in Pakistan and abroad since then. It is not wrong if we say that it has earned reputation of being the most recognized name in the market.

HRL has added value through a useful engineering contribution towards the concept of housing and infrastructure development and other disciplines. Team highly appreciates the time Mr. Zahid Rafiq took out for us to give insight into his future plans, vision and to discuss advancements in construction sector of Pakistan

Q:1 Let us know the road map of your professional journey since the beginning?

University life and its carefree boisterous days transformed into thoughtful and rather laborious work life when, after completing my graduation from UET, Lahore, I joined my sixty years old family business organization Habib Rafiq Limited (HRL). When I joined my family business instituted by my dear father and loving uncle, no doubt, it was a big test of my abilities to carry the legacy by keeping the bar higher. At that time, what I visualized is that we should invest in the next level of solutions and services before the customers' demand and strive to remain always on the top.

With more than thirty six years experience, I first got my feet wet in Lalpir Power Project, Muzafargarrh. Then I rubbed the shoulders with some of the leading firms like Siemens and Mitsui Japan to accomplish different projects in different sectors like Power & Energy, Airport & Aviation and Oil & Gas etc.

With an extensive portfolio of prominent developments across Pakistan and a track record in innovation and leadership, I decided to take up the challenge of the infrastructure development projects and also launched the HRL's first ever own housing brand "Royal Orchard" in my native town in South Punjab. This project embraced with amazing success. But, to me, this was not the end actually. This success was the beginning of a new dream i.e. Capital Smart City, an absolutely new concept of lifestyle. Keeping in view the future impact of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), I am keen to experience the transformation of Pakistan real estate development through the project like Capital Smart City.

Q:2 How do you evaluate your role and standing in the real estate market of Pakistan?

Nothing comes easy in life. You must have a big heart, a good attitude, and belief in yourself. It is very important to have the right people, to do the right thing in the right place and at the right time. I always evaluate myself on the basis of my contribution to my motherland, Pakistan. While launching my very own Royal Orchard housing scheme, I was the firm believer of the fact that building a house is not the same as building a home.

Fifteen years back, when I visited Singapore and observed the concept of Smart City. The very first thought that came into my mind was 'Why Not Pakistan'? Singapore is an undisputed leader when it comes to smart mobility, safety, healthcare, and convenient administrative services to its people. Smart City is basically a residential solution where operational efficiency is established and increased by using information and communication technologies. So, at that time, I envisioned developing Smart City like Singapore in Pakistan.

Fortune favours the bold. The vision to create our own opportunities and grab them at the right time with innovative application decides your placement in your sector. Today, by the grace of Allah the Almighty, I fairly sure that Capital Smart City project has placed HRL in a leading position.

Q:3 How political and economic upheavals effect a construction company business?

That's a very interesting question and a bit tricky, too. Economic stability and political stability are interlinked. Both affect each other. In today's world, if some incident happens in east or west, the whole world feels the wave of that happening. But I look at your question in a different way. Political and economic situations and scenarios are not always business friendly as they have their own mechanics and each line of business has its own; so as the construction business.

I am a firm believer of Warren Buffett saying, who is, I think, the second richest person of the world that, "Do not put all eggs in one basket". If you read and try to understand what Warren Buffet is trying to say then believe me that no businessman will ever complain of political or economic scenarios.

We have personally experienced this as the enriched history of HRL is witnessed to my claim. We were in government business and delivered landmark projects in stringent timelines but then with the passage of time and scenarios, we accomplished numerous projects in Power & Energy sector, Petrochemical, Infrastructure development, Airports & Aviation, Water Resources Engineering, and Environment and then finally launched our own brand Royal Orchard Housing Scheme and today the dream project of Capital Smart City is in progress.

What I want to say is that diversification, innovation, and courage to accept the challenges make you free from all hindrances and obstacles, I always believe to lead my sector rather follow others with new ideas and their amazing execution.

Q:4 What do you enjoy the most at your organization?

Culture, yes it is the culture that I enjoy the most at HRL. I am a believer in a happy workforce. To me, without a positive corporate culture, an employee will be unable to find the real value in his work. To remain on the top it is necessary to lead the whole team in one direction from top to bottom. If you want to retain top talent and wish for employee loyalty, this is in your hands. Honestly, it is you who decide for an employee to stay or leave your organization. The formula is very simple, "Invest in your employees". The organizations who invest in the well-being of their employees are rewarded with happy and dedicated employees.

At HRL, when I planned to move fast and remain on the top, I was fully aware of the fact that this was not possible without a competent and professional team. On the other hand, I was also very much cautious of the fact that although it is difficult to hire a good team yet it is even difficult to retain the pool of talented team players. In the construction industry, especially, quality is the mother of performance and timeline is always the irritable part of every project. There is no time for experiments and the reputation always travels faster than performance.

So, I designed a system comprised of the ingredients of Inspiration, Participation, and Reward. Inspiration keeps the team members motivated. Participation gives them the liberty to express and come with new ideas and rewards means the financial benefits. So, the HRL culture means that our ultimate goal is not only to make money, but to look after the interests of all of our stakeholders.

Q:4 What is the biggest dream in your life?

Before I respond to this question, I would like to share very humbly that I am very much impressed of the famous Sufi and scholar Hazrat Wasif Ali Wasif R.A. He has inspired my soul and spirit and entirely changed the meaning of life to me. One of his sayings is eye opener especially for every businessman that "A man is happy who is happy with his Naseeb (luck)" and believe me that this is the whole philosophy of life.

After reading and understanding this saying I have stopped dreaming as I always try to remain satisfied with my Naseeb, and what Allah the Almighty has awarded and rewarded me. Believe me that I am unable to justify what and how much Allah the Almighty has blessed me. So, this is my philosophy and vision about dreaming. Yes, there is a message but again in the words of Hazrat Wasif Ali Wasif R.A that "If you want peace then remove the conflict between your desires and your duties".

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