COMING FROM A BACKGROUND OF ECONOMICS AND FINANCIAL LEADERSHIP, JUNAID IQBAL, CEO – CAREEM, HAS A VARIED EXPERIENCE OF PROFESSIONALISM. JUNAID IQBAL IS ONE OF THE YOUNGEST CEOS IN PAKISTAN’S FINANCIAL SECTOR. SIGNIFYING HIS CAPABILITIES TO CONFRONT DIVERSE CHALLENGES. HE HAS BEEN SUCCESSFUL IN DIFFERENT SECTORS; FROM BEING ON THE LAUNCH-TEAM FOR CNBC PAKISTAN IN 2005 AND ANCHORING ITS FLAG-SHIP SHOW ‘POWER LUNCH’ TO CO-MANAGING A $381MILLION TRANSACTION IN 2014 AS CEO OF ELIXIR SECURITIES, THE LARGEST SUCH TRANSACTION IN PAKISTAN IN THE LAST 7 YEARS. JUNAID HAS BEEN INVITED TO MULTIPLE FORUMS TO PROVIDE HIS EXPERTISE AS HE HAS YEARS OF EXPERIENCE OF GROWTH, INNOVATION AND SUCCESS. HE WAS ALSO SUMMONED AT THE U.S. PRESIDENT OBAMA’S 2010 SUMMIT ON ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND ON TV AS A REGULAR COMMENTATOR ON PAKISTAN’S ECONOMY. RESULT ORIENTED, ENTREPRENEURIAL, PEOPLE-FOCUSED, BOLD, VISIONARY, UPFRONT, EXCELLENT COMMUNICATOR, POSSESSING MATURE APPROACH.
BM: Your academic and professional background diversifies from finance to media and much more. Explain the reason behind this diversity?
JI: It is difficult to say because I am not fixated on any sector or any particular industry. People often get too fixated within expertise but I don’t believe in that concept, I believe that everyone have their own skills, whereas I have three – I can sell, I can manage people and I am a strategist. I feel these skills can be applied anywhere, so why should I restrict myself to one sector when I can get opportunities to work for different sectors. This way you get to learn a lot by applying the same skills to finance, energy sector or your own business venture. Every industry has a different environment but in the end it’s all business.
“WE LOOK FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE INTELLIGENT, HARDWORKING, PASSIONATE & BORDERLINE CRAZY.”
BM: Even for a person with as diverse professional experience as you, Careem must have brought forward a new set of challenges. Name some challenges?
JI: I have been lucky to have the most amazing work experiences; out of all Careem is the most exciting one. I have done Pakistan’s first stock market show on GEO TV, TeziMandi. I have done the largest acuity transaction of billion dollars of the privatization deal for Habib Bank Limited in Pakistan and they all were amazing experiences. These experiences have been very rewarding financially and personally but nothing comes close to Careem. Careem already existed in UAE and GCC markets.
The founders of Careem were looking for someone for operations in Pakistan, I got to meet these people through a friend, and he introduced me to them, termed as the Uber killers. I got interested in meeting these people and the moment I met them only two things stood out – they were exceptionally smart and extremely humble. What I love being at Careem the most is the privilege of creating jobs in Pakistan. The second thing is learning how the new world economy works, it is a fantastic opportunity for everyone who works at Careem, the way the world transacts has changed, it’s now peer to peer.
BM: What was your core motive behind launching Careem service in Pakistan?
JI: Pakistan does not have a public transport infrastructure. It just simply doesn’t have it. You have buses, taxis and rickshaws and except the entire middle class no one uses buses or rickshaws. They wait for someone to pick them up and drop them, especially when it comes to women, students and the youth starting off with their professional careers to make a respectful mark with regards to the transportations they use.
BM: Has the law & order, traffic situation in Pakistan affected the quality of your service?
JI: It affects us more in Karachi than anywhere else. It’s a failure of public infrastructure, the road and the sewerage system. If there is 3ft water on the road, a corolla or suzuki cannot be driven like that. It’s not Careem’s failure but the civil authorities are responsible for this. The law and order situation is still worse here.
BM: How did you build the strong team behind this dream service?
JI: This is the core. We look for people who are intelligent, hardworking, passionate and borderline crazy. We look for academics, past work experience and the people who are determined to do something big in their lives.
BM: For our readers, briefly take us through the procedure of booking a Careem Cab?
JI: It’s pretty simple! Download the app from Play Store or App Store, sign-up and put your name, number and e-mail address, press a button and you get a car. You can choose to pay by credit card or cash and that’s about it.
“THE PRIVILEGE OF INITIATING CAREEM BROUGHT ABOUT VAST JOB OPPORTUNITIES IN PAKISTAN.”
BM: Were you well aware of the amazing outcome you got from this service? We all know Careem has revolutionized the transport industry.
JI: It’s been an over whelming response and demand constantly. It took a little bit of time for us to build some critical mass but now the response it massive. We are fortunate as a company; we are trying to solve the problems that exist.
We had quite a lot of questions in our mind, whether people will adopt the technology or not, everything that has happened now is different from what we have thought. So, no complains, we bow our heads and keep aiming to serve our customers.