Interview with Najeeb Ghauri
“We can’t say what someone’s destiny is going to be, but we can provide them with opportunity.”- Najeeb Ghauri
Najeeb Ghauri, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NetSol Technologies, is a businessman, a philanthropist, and a passionate advocate for the economic empowerment of girls and women. DIL Executive Director, Kendra Puryear, recently sat down with Najeeb to learn more about his inspiration for giving back and to hear why he believes supporting DIL schools will change the trajectory for girls in Pakistan.
Kendra: I heard you speak at an Economic Forum recently. You shared the opinion that “the biggest hidden gem in Pakistan is the talent of the people.”
Najeeb: “Yes. The quality of work we do at Netsol in Lahore is the same in Silicon Valley or Bangalore; the only difference is cost. Intelligence, work ethic, and creativity is very common in the 1,600 people we employ, and not just in Netsol, but all across Pakistan.”
Kendra: At the Forum you also mentioned that you are committed to creating a workplace that includes women at Netsol. Tell me a bit more about that.
Najeeb: “We have the highest % of females in our company throughout Pakistan. 35% of our staff is women.”
Kendra: Why is hiring women important to you? Do you think there are benefits to hiring women?
Najeeb: “Countries like Pakistan are male-dominated (patriarchal) societies. Women don’t get much say or have much exposure. I have found that in my experience, female employees are as smart and as capable as the men. The women who work for me are stable, calm, composed, and are straightforward communicators.”
Kendra: I understand you also provide transportation for women to get to work.
Najeeb: “Most of the women who work for us come from outside urban areas, or do not have access to cars. We provide them with transportation as well as a nursery facility for those with young children. I believe it’s a very good incentive for the women to work.”
Kendra: You support a DIL school. Tell me what inspired you to support DIL?
“Organizations such as DIL, and any education NGO, are not really a charity but an investment. Like Warren Buffett says, investments in education have the best return.”- Najeeb Ghauri
Najeeb: “People like Fiza Shah, or business people like myself, we both have the same thing in common – we believe in creating opportunities. Organizations such as DIL, and any education NGO, are not really a charity but an investment. Like Warren Buffett says, investments in education have the best return.”
Kendra: You’ve had the chance to visit a DIL school. What was that experience like?
Najeeb: “It was a very moving experience. I visited a DIL school called Khuda Ki Basti and was very touched. I spent 2-3 hours talking to the kids, teachers, and principal. I asked a girl ‘what is your aim after your finish high school’? She replied ‘uncle I would like to become a psychiatrist’. Now, this is a girl who is coming from below the poverty line, and she had enough intelligence to tell me confidently that she wanted to be a psychiatrist. Another said she wanted to become a fashion stylist! Hearing those things really stuck with me. This kind of empowerment – human development, and creating education and literacy, is a game changer in Pakistan.”
Kendra: What would you like to see for Pakistan’s future?
Najeeb: “When you go to these villages and rural towns, you see that there are no schools for miles. You’ll see kids running around with nothing to do, and nowhere to go. When you go to these places you realize not just how much poverty there is in these parts, but how much potential there is that is going to waste. Lack of education is the root cause of so many ills and is also the best remedy to cure social issues such as poverty, unemployment, crime, and extremism. This kind of empowerment – human development, and creating education and literacy, is a game changer in Pakistan.
Kendra: It sounds like your family had a huge influence on your desire to give back.
Najeeb: “My family has been supporting schools, poverty alleviation for many years. We have always believed in empowering kids who have no other way of making a decent living and help to give them the same kind of opportunities that we had. We distribute and provide free food for people that cannot afford it. When I go see this myself, it gives me a real perspective on life. What we have is not ours – it belongs to others as well. What good is that money sitting in the bank that is adding 3 or 4% interest for a few people? A small % of that money could be shared for the betterment of people. When we become successful, is it absolutely mandatory, not optional, to share that success with others by creating opportunity. Education leads to those opportunities. DIL has become a part of our lives.”
Kendra: I’m impressed that you spend so much of your own time out in the community. What motivates you to do this?
Najeeb: “Getting personally involved is more important to me than just giving money. The reason I go to the schools, or help in distributing the food, is that I want to feel their pain. People that live there are just like us. The only difference is that I grew up in an upscale family, whereas these guys who had no opportunity, unless we, all of us, help them by getting involved.
*Najeeb Ghauri was recently honored at our DIL Los Angeles Annual Gala on September 15th, 2017 and spoke from the heart about DIL’s mission. If you would like to support DIL in honor of Najeeb, please do so here.