SHEIKH HASINA WAZED

THE IRON WOMAN

Politics in Bangladesh is not easy with intermittent military coups and rules since Bangladesh’s independence in 1971. Being a woman in such a scenario doesn’t make things easier. Sheikh Hasina Wazed took up the position of Prime Minister of Bangladesh for the third term in 2014, and has more than four decades’ experience in the field of politics. She is the eldest child of the founding father and the first President of Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Hasina was born during the violence of partition of India and Pakistan in 1947, and grew up amidst fear owing to her father’s political association. The year 1975 proved to be an unfortunate year for Sheikh Hasina Wazed, as she lost her family (father, mother and three brothers) in an assassination by several military officers at their residence; she and her younger sister survived as they were in West Germany at the time of the attack.

Even after losing her dear ones, this brave soul did not run away from her responsibilities towards the people of Bangladesh. She lived in self-exile in India till 1981, and returned to Bangladesh after the assassination of the then President of Bangladesh, Ziaur Rahman; she was immediately house arrested. However, she resiliently faced the political hostility in her country and eventually emerged a winner.

PRIYANKA GANDHI VADRA

THE HERMIT POLITICIAN

Politics and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra have a thing going on and it’s magical! Each time she enters the limelight, an average Indian can’t help but wonder: will she [join politics] or won’t she? And the way she has handled the Congress party campaigns in the past, there is no doubt that she shows an immense capacity for the power game. Though she has been denying the speculations about her joining politics, people do not seem to be convinced. And why will they be? After all, she is a Nehru–Gandhi scion and a member of India’s first family. The lady’s lineage speaks volumes about the chances of her being a political success. Gandhi–Vadra’s father, grandmother, and great-grandfather – actually almost every single person in her family – have been at the forefront of the Indian politics.

A good orator and a charismatic leader, she has often been compared to her grandmother, Indira Gandhi, an enormously influential Prime Minister, to whom she bears a striking resemblance. And this talent of her was discovered in the Indian General Elections 2004, where she played the role of a main campaign manager for her mother, Sonia Gandhi and outshined everybody.

Despite the hoopla Gandhi–Vadra has been generating, she prefers a quiet life and refuses all kinds of public engagements. She believes in living her life on her own terms and conditions!

ZHANG XIN

THE BRICK AND MORTAR GENIUS

Fondly called as “the woman who built Beijing”, Zhang Xin’s two decades in the real estate business has brought her huge respect and fortune. The CEO and Co-founder of SOHO China, the largest commercial real estate developer in Beijing has long been hailed as one of the highly regarded self-made billionaires.

Picking up from a poor childhood and living in the outskirts of Beijing to forming the face of the city, she has definitely come a long way. Zhang Xin formed SOHO China with her husband, and she took that company from the grassroots level to huge projects directly influencing the economy of the country.
A simple elegant woman who likes to spend weekends carrying out her parental duties looking after her boys refuses to live like a billionaire. The cutting-edge skyscraper buildings depict a great sense of style as Zhang Xin personally pays special attention to the designs.

Her buildings are an expression of China’s emergence into the modern world, as china is now becoming the country that has produced more self-made billionaires than any other country in the world. She uses her Wall Street know-how to raise money abroad, and hires the world’s top architects.

Her buildings are said to be fluid and futuristic, and she is proud to have helped Beijing create an attractive skyline.

PANSY HO

THE GAMING LORDESS

The deftness with which Pansy Ho handles responsibilities and various projects is admirable. She is the co-chair of MGM China and Managing Director of property-and-transport outfit Shun Tak. Ho has successfully got herself included in the list of Hong Kong’s richest women when the casino outfit went public in Hong Kong a few years ago. MGM’s property, the MGM Macau casino, is a five-star integrated casino and luxury hotel resort located on prime waterfront property.

The daughter of Macau casino magnate, Stanley Ho, she succeeded in becoming the Chairman of Jetstar too after Qantas Group and China Eastern Airlines sold their one-third stake in the budget airline to her family’s conglomerate, Shun Tak Holdings. Ho studied marketing and business at Santa Clara University in California and also had a brief stint as an actor in TV in Hong Kong before opening her own PR firm. The lady has a winning streak and has paved her way to success through persistence and hard work.

It is no surprise that one of the 17 children of gaming marvel, Stanely Ho, is amassing wealth at such a commendable pace. After all, she learnt the art of multitasking and managing projects right in her school, the Catholic Secondary School, Hong Kong, where she was encouraged to participate in ECAs. In the process, she developed a competitive streak and was driven by the desire to win, which she exhibits in her business decisions now.

SOLINA CHAU

THE ARDENT DREAMER

Solina Chau knows how to dream big and manifest it. She has left a success trail for every woman to follow. This Cofounder of Horizon Ventures aspired for stars even as a child. Born in 1961, Chau attended Diocesan Girls’ school where she had an impressive record as a student. Later, she went to study in Sydney and moved to London in search of work. It was here that in 1980s her dream to be a business woman was realised when she struck up a friendship with Debbie Chang, a cousin of the former Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa, becoming her flatmate and a business partner.

In 1993, Chau created quite a stir in Hong Kong business circles by winning a project on behalf of one of Tung’s firms to build the Oriental Square in downtown Beijing. After that, there was no looking back. Today, she sits over a heap of successful endeavours. She continues to invest in tech ventures, including companies that address innovations in the global environment and food, tackle infectious diseases and tap artificial intelligence and virtual reality.

Some of her notable ventures are Hampton Creek, Impossible Foods, BlueDot, and AI software provider Sentinel Technology. She is also the director of the Li Ka Shing Foundation, which stands at $9 billion fortune.

LI NA

TENNIS TRAILBLAZER

Last autumn, in September 2014, she stunned the world with her unexpected retirement at the age of 32 from the world of Tennis. The two-time grand slam winner was the first-ever Chinese player to be ranked amongst the top 30 players in the world. Bringing laurels to the country, Li has become a household name as she introduced tennis to the masses in China.

Her father died when she was 14, but her mother supported her, and in 1999 at the age of 16 she became a professional tennis player. As she won tournaments one after the other, she became the most successful and popular Asian tennis player ever. In China, following her success, tennis just exploded! Today, there are about 15 million tennis players in China.

Li Na became the first Asian to win a Grand Slam singles tennis major after winning the French Open in 2011; she later won Australian Open in 2014 too. She is famous for her smiley, funny and witty demeanour on court.
Li Na’s worth is estimated at around $40 million after her win, is known as something of a rebel in China. She was selected by government coaches at the age of nine and training in the state program for years, she first left the national tennis team in 2002 to hone her technique on her own. Her decision for marriage took the entire country for a shock as Chinese state athletes are banned from even dating. She’s even turned down (link in Chinese) being on China’s grand Spring Festival television special in favour of going home to ring in the Lunar New Year with her mother.

She stated in the open letter posted online that most people in the tennis world know that my career has been marked by my troubled right knee, After four knee surgeries and hundreds of shots injected into my knee weekly to alleviate swelling and pain, my body is begging me to stop the pounding.
She is not only an icon, but also represents freedom of thought in China.

ANIL DHIRUBHAI AMBANI

The Fortune Spinner

When Anil Dhirubhai Ambani inherited business from his father in 2002, he was quite confident of turning it into a billion dollar conglomerate. An avid marathoner, Anil Ambani has paced his career too well. For Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG), being a giant in the Indian conglomerate sector with an impressive presence in power, communications, infrastructure and capital funds across India was not enough. And Anil Amnbani was well-versed with this reality. Anil took on the management of the Reliance Group as the Chief Executive Officer.
At present, the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group is amongst India’s top 5 business houses and has the world’s largest Shareholder/Investor base of over 13 million.

Over the past couple of decades, Anil Ambani has transformed Reliance ADAG from being restricted to a single sector to being the leading business conglomerate in India. The group has assets in excess of Rs. 2,60,000 crore (USD 43 billion); annual revenues of the order of Rs. 56,000 crore (USD 9 billion); net worth of over Rs. 98,000 crore (USD 16 billion); and over 1,00,000 employees.

He currently chairs the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, with an estimated net revenue exceeding USD 12.5 billion. Anil took Reliance to great heights and today the group is a prominent name in several industries. He was also elected to be an independent Member of the Rajya Sabha in the year 2004. One of his many successful ventures has been the business acquisition of Adlabs, a dominant name in the entertainment sector.

He is the man who positioned Reliance at an approximate worth of USD 2 billion from the overseas financial markets. Not only is he an eminent personality in the corporate world, but is also popular amongst the youth, as he is fondly called a youth icon by many budding entrepreneurs across the world.

Sculpting Tanzania’s Future

When it comes to excellence, Quality Group Limited, Tanzania, has excelled in every sphere. It has made a name for itself in terms of technological know-how and innovation in East Africa, and is busy scripting several tales of success under the effective leadership of Yusuf Manji, the Chairman of QGL
With the entry of Quality Group Limited in the early ’70s, Tanzania as a country was introduced to the idea of quality, expertise and novelty. In many ways, the organization has been a driving force behind the improved socio-economic structure of the country, and has eventually turned into an institution that is basking in the glory of rich history and legacy. Having been in the race for more than four decades, QGL has lived with a vision to promote and keep up with its leadership standing coupled with fineness and superiority. And there has always been an effort to deliver more than what is promised under the headship of Yusuf Manji. Founded by Mehbub Manji, Yusuf Manji’s father, as a motor works company in the late 1960s, QGL has been a witness to several social and economic restructuring in Tanzania. And down the line the company has emerged as a reputed business enterprise, and has eventually become Tanzania’s lifeline. The organization’s headquarters are housed at ‘Quality Plaza’ at Nyerere Road in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, which is a noted landmark and one of the most modern offices and commercial complexes in Tanzania.

THE VISIONARY

When Yusuf Manji took over the reins of the family business in 1995, he was only 20 years old. Under his direction the Dar es Salaam-based motor works company, QGL, grew from strength-to-strength and became a successful phenomenon. Today, QGL is a USD 1-billion conglomerate that deals in a wide range of verticals like automobiles, real estate, food processing, consulting, transport, aluminum, entertainment, e-commerce, media, and health care. Though things weren’t easy in the beginning, Yusuf took all the challenges head-on and through his vision and hard work, paved a way for QGL’s triumph. This evolution has been possible only because of Manji’s sheer determination, hard work, sharp business acumen, and his dream to conquer the world. However, it was sheer luck that when Yusuf took over QGL, the previously adopted socialist economy in Tanzania made way for a free market economy. Furthermore, the liberal market helped in the business growth.
Humane and pragmatic, he has immense capacity to turn any venture into a roaring success. Always looking out for opportunities, Manji is brimming with ideas all the time and believes in defying all odds. In fulfilling his vision, he is assisted by an experienced and senior team of professionals with local and international expertise.
When asked about his journey so far, Yusuf Manji says, “It has been all about my company and my work towards its expansion.” Manji uses every challenge as a stepping stone to success and has learnt a lot from his father, Mehbub Manji. He elaborates, “In my teens, I used to work with my father in his garage and watch him work till late hours. He loved what he did and worked with pure dedication and passion. It was an interesting phase as I was learning how to handle a business, and was also witnessing my father’s dedication towards his work. Moreover, I always aspired to be like him and decided to carry forward his legacy by expanding our company and bringing it to such a great height that he would be proud of me. Today, people from all over Africa, and from other parts of the world, identify Quality Group Limited by its name and work. What else could I want?”
Having learnt the ropes of business from his father, Manji has been well groomed to face adversities. He shows immense capacity as a leader and always keeps himself abreast with the latest developments. He has delivered exceptionally and has surpassed all expectations.
And how does he manage to achieve so much? What makes him tick? He says, “I love my work and it is passion that drives me ahead.”

INDIA CONNECTION AND EDUCATION

A native of Gujarat, India, Yusuf Manji spent most of his childhood in the USA and Tanzania. While he pursued his primary education in the USA, in Tanzania he completed his secondary education. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Administration that necessitated him to spend a year each at The American College of Switzerland (Switzerland), More House College (Atlanta, USA), and Hofstra University (New York, USA).

THE GO-GETTER

Having taken the reins of his family business in 1995, Manji introduced numerous changes in the organization, which went in sync with its dynamic structure. The set-up was completely overhauled and experts were hired in the respective fields. This professional approach helped Quality Group Limited scale new heights and create a niche for itself in the market. Support came pouring in and attracted several lenders from the East African region. This not only perked up the status of the conglomerate, but also built a spotless reputation in the market.
Manji single-handedly steered the Group to success, and in no time diversified and expanded the Group’s business portfolio. Hence, QGL today stands tall with its credible growth graph. One of the factors that make QGL a unique Group, is its investment in human capital sustaining the fact that employees play a pivotal role in the growth of any organization; an idea which Manji has been promulgating. He says, “I believe in exceeding expectations and this can only be possible if one is passionate about their goals.”
As far as business is concerned, Yusuf swears by QGL’s corporate motto of ‘Exceeding Expectations’. Devising his policies around the adage, he has created several milestones and makes sure to spread the essence to his employees as well. He makes it a point to encourage exchange of ideas and participation of the staff members during celebrations like QGL Day, Ramadan, Diwali Christmas and other functions.
A humanitarian at heart, Yusuf has unveiled several CSR initiatives through QGL. Besides helping the marginalized people in the society on a personal level, Yusuf makes sure that QGL plays a part in uplifting the poor. Under its CSR initiatives, QGL sponsors scores of students for higher education and also provides monetary aids during national crisis. The CSR initiatives by QGL in spearheading the Ebola control campaign of African Union Commission (AUC) have attained a pan- African stature and stand as a stellar example. Such has been the work of QGL in combating the epidemic, that Manji was elected as one of the Founder Trustees of Ebola Solidarity Trust established by the AUC.
In appreciation of his work towards motivating the young population of Tanzania, Manji was elected as the Chairman of YANGA, the Young African Sports Club. He has always been a major contributor towards the growth of the youth; hence, being the leader of such a prestigious organization gives him an additional platform to execute his inspirational programs.
Extremely passionate about his work and actively involved in Tanzania’s development, Yusuf Manji is also a family man. He says, “I don’t take a break, except when I go for a month-long holiday with my family to the mountains for skiing. There, I am totally cut off from work, as there is no network.” What’s his hobby? He says, “I love skiing and spending time with my family.”

MOUNTING HORIZONS

Quality Group Limited forms one of Tanzania’s premier and diversified business groups with over 50 wholly-owned and associate companies that enable them to provide employment to several thousands. Its manufacturing and export operations that cater to the demands all over East Africa are proof of the fact that its ambitions have no limit.
Always keen on exploring new vistas, which the ever-growing Tanzanian market provides, the company also keeps challenges and risk in the purview while doing business in the African continent. The sole purpose of QGL is empowerment of the locals in Tanzania, and it has tried to bridge the existing gap by setting up state-of-the-art energy facilities, infrastructure, revolutionizing communications and agriculture sectors, and working towards high-quality real estate options.
QGL produces a variety of products, many of which are market leaders in Tanzania and are exported to a number of countries spanning the African continent. Providing quality products and services to Tanzania with great zeal and passion, the Group represents some of the world’s most reputed organizations. Currently, QGL is venturing into newer businesses providing a variety of high-tech services such as e-education, e-health care, media service and mobile applications.
Quality Health Limited (QHL) is one of QGL’s latest ventures, wherein they have introduced the concept of e-MediClinic. QHL plans to launch a number of such clinics all over the country, which will help them to eventually reach out to the rural population as well, and provide them with the most advanced medical facilities in the whole of Africa.
FastaFasta, a mobile application-based service, has been initiated by QGL to provide services for booking taxis and bodabodas instantly. Such an application, which is quite popular all over the world, has been introduced in East Africa for the very first time. It aims to solve all the transport-related needs of the country.
Quality Media Group (QMG), a subsidiary of QGL, is a company that is in the process of becoming the largest media agency in East Africa. It is the one-stop media service provider, dealing in branding, radio, print and TV advertisements, billboards, signage, electronic media, and 3D animation. QGL gives high weightage to education, and believes that it should reach every citizen of this country. It is currently very difficult for the people to gain access to professional teachers, good quality books, and proper educational assessment. It is thus, for this purpose that it introduced e-education, a new concept in East Africa, which could reach even the rural parts of Tanzania at the most reasonable prices.
Ensuring that the Group contributes to the overall growth of the nation, it covers a wide spectrum of activities including agriculture, contracting, finance and investments, fisheries, food processing, manufacturing, services, trading and agency representation, and health among others.
Quality Group has also expanded their domain by forming long-term partnerships with numerous international brands. The world’s leading car rental brand, Hertz, recently entered into an alliance with Quality Group as a franchiser, with the aim of changing the way people travel in Tanzania. The Group has also partnered with high-end automobile companies like Chevrolet, Isuzu and Honda to bring elite brands in the country. Other internationally known brands like Kubota, Sonalika, BEML, Bridgestone, ASPEE and Greaves Cotton are also the main partners for the company’s farm equipment and automotive businesses.
The Group is now looking out to increase the export market of its manufactured products by seeking newer territories and adapting its products to suit these markets, and in the process, achieve self-reliance. To this end, ‘Employment Support’ for Tanzanian nationals, an area that has always been a priority to the Group, will continue to play a pivotal role in every facet of the Group’s growth and development.
Today, QGL and Manji, both are continually contributing towards the growth of Tanzania, and foresee the country’s economic progress to take place soon. When asked to share his vision for the future growth of the company, Manji says, “I want to see Africa, and specifically Tanzania, in the leadership map for bringing in the next generation change in the world. This, I believe, can happen only with sheer passion. In the near future, I see my company at such a great height, where it is capable of supporting efficiently, the aspirations of the people of Africa and develop the continent faster.”

Education in the Middle East and India

“Education is not only a fundamental human right but perhaps the most necessary element of development of any nation” – Dr Wasil
Appointed Chairman of the CBSE Gulf Council, received the President’s Teacher Award, awarded a Fellowship for research at Cambridge, received the Sharjah Economic Excellence Award as CEO, felicitated at various forums, recognized as a key note speaker at diverse education conferences – these are some tangible outcomes of the meaningful and constructive role that Dr Farooq Wasil, CEO of Goldline Education, has played in his 30 years as an educator contributing to the education system in the Middle East.
An expert on the Middle East education sector, he has been witness, since the 1990s, to an exponential growth in the GCC countries in terms of increase in education spend as well as enrollment.

Government Support

To create a high level of awareness and a high standard of education in the Middle East, the Government of UAE has been extremely benevolent and supportive towards nurturing the education sector. Dr Wasil endorses the highly progressive vision of the UAE which currently devotes approximately 25 percent of the total federal government spending to education. The overall literacy rate in the UAE is 90%. The GCC governments, on average, spend about 3.3 percent of their GDP on education. Saudi Arabia in particular spends 5.6% of GDP on education.

Gender Parity

Statistics in Saudi Arabia show that more women are attending institutions of higher learning than men. Saudi women are studying abroad alone. Women are overcoming barriers and gaining more confidence and freedom, as female education and equality is on the rise in the Middle East.
Dr Wasil is enthusiastic about the developments, “Education is the only ladder to development for a nation, and contribution to this development comes from both genders. Particularly for women, education is a gateway to a better life, to better understand their human rights and to protect themselves against gender discrimination.”

UAE As a New Destination for Education

A remarkable feature of the 21st century is the fact that the world is now just one big village and the Internet makes us all think we are close irrespective of geographic distances or boundaries. With the increase in penetration of connectivity, today’s children are acutely aware of what is available as education not only in their own country but also across the globe along with a huge never-before exposure to the global employment markets as well as information on the skills necessary to succeed in these markets.
“Governments are also aware of the need for educational reforms as well as the need to inject the much-needed ‘new blood’ into education, so local education systems are at par with international standards,” observes Dr Wasil. “The UAE is a welcoming environment, which attracts international institutions to set up base in the GCC countries for the following reasons: strategic location of the United Arab Emirates within easy access to half the world’s population; a multi-cultural society in an increasingly globalized economy; degree recognition not only in the UAE and GCC nations, but also in the country of origin of the issuing institution; lower cost of living as compared to Canada, the US, Australia and the UK; offices of international businesses in the UAE, giving students a valuable opportunity for hands-on experience during their MBA programmes.”

Reflections on India

He has served as Chairman of the CBSE Gulf Council from 2002 to 2003. He notes, “The rules and regulations are the same in the Middle East and India. However, there is a vast difference in terms of cultural adaptability for our curriculum and schools which is an overarching priority for functioning in the Middle East. “Research-based evidence strongly suggests that no developing country can sustain high rates of growth without investing heavily in educating its young people, as education helps in the all-round development of the individual, makes them better prepared to face the myriad challenges of lives, and enhances people’s ability to lead happier, healthier and more productive lives.”

e-learning

Middle East’s education system is very advanced as they have already shifted to the e-learning mode. India has been cautiously moving towards it; however, whether the mode of learning is ‘e’ or otherwise, the watchword is quality. India is not very far behind in terms of creation of e-learning materials to suit the local curricula. Dr Wasil remarks, “While the phenomenon is mostly urban, with Digital India now gaining momentum, e-learning would also penetrate rural areas. This would be a plus for consumers since the Government would also initiate low-cost robust e-learning platforms and packages, which in turn will force private players to relook their price point.”

The Future

So, where is the future of learning spaces in the Middle East and India heading? As an educationist, he takes note of the research that old school facilities and the struggle of students & teachers with noise, glare, mildew, lack of fresh air, and hot or cold temperatures have a huge and often negative impact on children’s education. 25–30-year-old school designs must give way to new tools, techniques and teaching methods such as open and flexible floor plans with natural light to avoid Vitamin D and B12 deficiency, electronic chalkboards, portable computers, expandable networking and interactive video. Dr Wasil explains, “The difference can be similar to writing in the sand and surfing the Internet.”
In the future, the student population would be more multi-cultural, and teachers need to ensure that their individual teaching style encompasses students’ diverse cultural needs. To enable this shift to be successful, learning spaces and environments will need to be dynamic and fluid. A tech-rich environment and teachers as powerful facilitators and enablers in the learning process is the future.
Quoting the visionary leader of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed, Dr Wasil sums it up, “The real asset of any advanced nation is its people, especially the educated ones, and the prosperity and success of the people are measured by the standard of their education.”